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Keeping Tabs On The UFC Bantamweight Division 3/19: Barao, Faber, and the UFC's top 15 bantamweights
Mar 19, 2014 - 11:55:18 PM
Keeping Tabs On The UFC Bantamweight Division 3/19: Barao, Faber, and the UFC's top 15 bantamweights
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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

We’re back on the rotation in our “Keeping Tabs On…” series, where we break down the UFC’s Top 15 ranked fighters in each division. We'll let you know where we've got them ranked, what they've got coming up, how often they've been competing, what we've said about them recently at MMATorch, and more. We continue today with the bantamweight division.


Champ: Renan Barao

MMATorch Rank: 1
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Urijah Faber (Win), UFC 169
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 5
Contender Status: Current Champ
What We're Saying: "Barao showed that he's one of the best fighters in the world with this performance. He dropped Faber over and over, and proved his dominance. The stoppage was odd in its timing, but it wasn't wrong. Barao was clearly winning and would have likely ended the fight for sure later." - Frank Hyden


1. Urijah Faber

MMATorch Rank: 2
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Renan Barao (Loss), UFC 169
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 6
Contender Status: Falling, but title hopes aren’t dead
What We're Saying: "It's highly unfortunate that Cruz still doesn't have a timetable for return, but if it can be a little later in the summer, Faber remains a top option for him to fight. It'd be a great rematch if it happened, but at this stage it appears Cruz may be out a little longer still." - Jamie Penick


2. Michael McDonald

MMATorch Rank: 3
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Urijah Faber (Loss), UFC on Fox 9
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 4
Contender Status: Falling, but could still easily bounce back
What We're Saying: "That's the most maddening thing for any type of ailment, to have no clear idea what is actually causing it, and with strength leaving his hand it's got to be throwing him off entirely. Hopefully after this extra month and an MRI, they can figure out what it is and get a more concrete idea of how long he'll be out." - Jamie Penick


3. Raphael Assuncao

MMATorch Rank: 5
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Pedro Munhoz (Win), UFC 170
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 4
Contender Status: Likely next contender
What We're Saying: "If you win six consecutive fights in the UFC, you deserve a title shot. It doesn’t always happen, but he definitely deserves one. It also helps that Renan Barao has virtually beaten everyone else who was worthy of contention." - Dan Moore


4. Eddie Wineland

MMATorch Rank: 6
Next Fight: Johnny Eduardo, UFC Fight Night 40, May 10
Previous Fight: Yves Jabouin (Win), UFC on Fox 10
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 4
Contender Status: Rising, off to good start, needs more wins
What We're Saying: "Wineland is working his way back into title contention after a loss to Renan Barao last September. In his first outing since that loss, Wineland knocked out Yves Jabouin in January." - Jamie Penick


5. T.J. Dillashaw

MMATorch Rank: 11
Next Fight: Takeya Mizugaki, UFC 173, May 24
Previous Fight: Mike Easton (Win), UFC Fight Night 35
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 6
Contender Status: Rising, looked great against Easton
What We're Saying: "Dillashaw, the runner-up on The Ultimate Fighter's 14th season, was well on his way to a shot at the UFC Bantamweight Championship when he fell short against Raphael Assuncao by split decision late last year. He bounced back impressively in his first 2014 outing, defeating Mike Easton in a one-sided decision in January." - Jamie Penick


6. Takeya Mizugaki

MMATorch Rank: 10
Next Fight: T.J. Dillashaw, UFC 173, May 24
Previous Fight: Nam Phan (win), UFC Fight Night 33
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 5
Contender Status: Rising, still a few relevant wins away from legitimate contention
What We're Saying: "Takeya Mizugaki… is hoping to continue his ascension into contention following years of inconsistency. From his debut in the WEC in 2009 - which came in a title fight against Miguel Torres - through 2012, Mizugaki alternated wins and losses every time out. But starting with his win over Jeff Hougland on the UFC on Fuel card in Macau, China, Mizugaki has strung together four straight victories, defeating Bryan Caraway, Erik Perez, and Nam Phan in succession." - Jamie Penick


7. Mike Easton

MMATorch Rank: Not Ranked (received votes)
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: T.J. Dillashaw (Loss), UFC Fight Night 35
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 5
Contender Status: Falling, not likely to be a title contender
What We're Saying: "Good fight, really good performance from Dillashaw, who just completely picked Easton apart in that fight." - Jamie Penick


9. Dominick Cruz

MMATorch Rank: Not eligible due to inactivity
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Demetrious Johnson (Win), UFC on Versus 6
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 0
Contender Status: Stagnant, could fight for title again this year
What We're Saying: "It's highly unfortunate that Cruz still doesn't have a timetable for return, but if it can be a little later in the summer, Faber remains a top option for him to fight. It'd be a great rematch if it happened, but at this stage it appears Cruz may be out a little longer still." - Jamie Penick


8. Iuri Alcantara

MMATorch Rank: 12
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Wilson Reis (Win), UFC Fight Night 36
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 6
Contender Status: Stagnant, got back in the win column but needs to do more
What We're Saying: "For a Fight Night event this is a really intriguing undercard, probably even better than the disastrous UFC 169 on paper. I never get tired of watching an Alcantara fight." - Dan Moore


10. Francisco Rivera

MMATorch Rank: Not Ranked
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: George Roop (Win), UFC Fight For The Troops 3
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 5
Contender Status: Rising, but still several fights from contention
What We're Saying: "The hand injury delays Rivera's return, and halts his attempt at ascension towards a title fight. He had been unbeaten in six straight fights. It would have been a six fight winning streak were it not for a no contest due to a failed drug test." - Jamie Penick


11. Erik Perez

MMATorch Rank: Not Ranked
Next Fight: Alex Caceres, “TUF: Nations” Finale, April 16
Previous Fight: Edwin Figueroa (Win), UFC 167
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 5
Contender Status: Stagnant, needs to put together a streak to contend
What We're Saying: "I could see him fighting Yves Jabouin in Mexico City this spring. The winner of Alex Caceres vs. Mitch Gagnon makes sense (especially if it's Caceres). Bryan Caraway could be in the cards, depending on what management thinks of Caraway's ceiling." - Rich Hansen


12. Alex Caceres

MMATorch Rank: Not Ranked (received votes)
Next Fight: Erik Perez, “TUF: Nations” Finale, April 16
Previous Fight: Sergio Pettis (Win), UFC on Fox 10
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 6
Contender Status: Rising, has been quite impressive in the UFC’s bantamweight field
What We're Saying: "Alex Caceres might not be elite, but he's very good, and Sergio Pettis was still on his way to a win. Pettis survived a flash knockdown in the second and showed a ton of poise for a fighter his age. That makes it all the more impressive that Caceres was able to transition into that rear naked choke in the final minute, and I came away from that fight wanting to see more from both of them. It's a huge, propelling performance for Caceres who really seems to be hitting his stride at bantamweight" - Jamie Penick


13. Brad Pickett

MMATorch Rank: 9 (will not be eligible next month as he’s at flyweight)
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Neil Seery (Win), UFC Fight Night 37
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 6
Contender Status: Now at flyweight
What We're Saying: "The UFC wanted to book [Pickett vs. McCall] before, and it still makes sense now after the London event. Putting it in Germany or Ireland certainly works if they want to keep Pickett as a part of their EMEA tour, and really it's just a sensible fight at this stage." - Jamie Penick


14. Bryan Caraway

MMATorch Rank: 15
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Johnny Bedford (Win), UFC 159
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 3
Contender Status: Stagnant, needs to win several consecutive to contend
What We're Saying: "Caraway's return gets delayed even further, as he hasn't been in the cage since last April. The 29-year-old Caraway beat Johnny Bedford at UFC 159, but spent the summer helping his girlfriend Miesha Tate coach on The Ultimate Fighter." - Jamie Penick


15. Wilson Reis

MMATorch Rank: Not Ranked
Next Fight: TBA
Previous Fight: Iuri Alcantara (Loss), UFC Fight Night 36
Number of Fights Since Jan. 2012: 5
Contender Status: Not close to contention yet
What We're Saying: "[UFC Fight Night 36 had a] really poor night of prelim fights - save Iuri Alcantara vs. Wilson Reis." - Jamie Penick


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MMATORCH STAFF

EDITORS:

Wade Keller, supervising editor
(mmatorch@gmail.com)

Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
(mmatorcheditor@gmail.com)

STAFF COLUMNISTS:

Shawn Ennis - Jason Amadi
Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey


Interested in joining MMATorch's writing team? Send idea for a theme to your column (for Specialist section) or area of interest (i.e. TV Reporter) along with a sample of writing to mmatorch@gmail.com.

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