With UFC Fight Night Mendes vs. Lamas taking place this weekend and in anticipation of the title bout between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor in July, Pundit Arena takes a closer look at the UFC Featherweight Division.
Number 1 ranked contender Chad Mendes takes on number 4 ranked Ricardo Lamas in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Fairfax, Virginia this Saturday, as another two bouts in the most talked about weight class in MMA also take place on the night.
12th ranked Clay ‘The Carpenter’ Guida faces Robert Peralta, and Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier (#6) battles Diego Ferreira in his first fight since his crushing defeat to Conor McGregor back in September.
Episode #10 of the most bonkers UFC ‘Embedded’ series we can remember has now been posted, as anticipation reaches fever pitch an entire three months before the fight itself!
UFC Featherweight Rankings as of April 2nd. 2015
Champion: Jose Aldo
1 Chad Mendes
2 Frankie Edgar
3 Conor McGregor
4 Ricardo Lamas
5 Cub Swanson
6 Dennis Bermudez
6 Dustin Poirier
8 Nik Lentz
9 Charles Oliveira
10 Max Holloway
11 Jeremy Stephens
12 Clay Guida
13 Dennis Siver
14 Darren Elkins
15 Hacran Dias
(Fighters Conor McGregor has defeated are highlighted in green, Aldo in red)
The One and Only
Undefeated in almost ten years (unprecedented at this elite level of the sport), Jose Aldo is the inaugural UFC Featherweight Champion. He became the WEC Champ on November 18, 2009, defeating Mike Brown. The WEC Featherweight division was absorbed into the UFC on November 20, 2010, as part of the UFC-WEC merger and his mercurial reign as the incumbent Champion has lasted 1594 days.
His nine title defenses include victories over the top four ranked contenders above (excluding McGregor). A sample of his scary talents follows.
Renowned for his vicious leg kicks, knockout power and speed, Aldo has justifiably earned the respect of his peers. Well, almost all of his peers. . .
Since his debut on April 6, 2013, the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor has caused an absolute riot in the MMA world seldom seen since the days of Brock Lesnar’s title reign.
His harsh, disrespectful trash-talk apes the path that many athletes before him have trod, but in fairness to the Dubliner, he has backed it up in emphatic fashion; four KO’s in five fights including three in the very first round.
Having spent less than 29 minutes in the Octagon, McGregor stands on the brink of becoming a World Champion just two years removed from ‘being on the dole’ – a staggering fact that is a testament to his determination, skill and showmanship.
Chad Mendes – ‘Money’ Mendes stands out as the main man; he’s 1/5 to win this weekend and is currently the top ranked challenger in the division. However, the accomplished college wrestler has already fallen to Aldo twice, although he was exceptional in the second bout:
Ricardo Lamas – The ‘Bully’ might best be recognised by some fans for this seven(!) minute spoof he did on McGregor
He shares his opponent’s many wrestling credentials and of the chasing pack he’s the most outspoken on the Irishman, perhaps a measure of his confidence if they were ever to meet:
“Chad is a great fighter and I look forward to this challenge. This will be the TRUE #1 contender fight.“
Cub Swanson – Criminally overlooked, Swanson has a highlight reel of knockouts to rival most in the business:
Seven wins by submission shows that he is well rounded, but the main drawback in regarding him as a contender is that Aldo once KO’d him in eight seconds with a flying knee:
Frankie Edgar – ‘The Answer’ was a former UFC Lightweight Champion, often fighting (and beating) opponents much larger than him. Since moving down to the Featherweight division, the College Freestyle All-American wrestler lost in a disputed decision to Aldo.
A very well rounded ‘Rocky’ type, Edgar has since beaten Charles Oliveira, BJ Penn and Swanson, making him the frontrunner for a title shot should Lamas upset the apple-cart this weekend.
Diego Brandão & Marcus Brimage – Both were beaten by McGregor in short order. Brandao hasn’t fought since his loss to McGregor in July last year while Brimage has since moved down to Bantamweight. Interestingly, both men are TUF 14 alumni and had a hilarious bust-up on the show (as an aside, the season itself is brilliant if you can find it).
Max Holloway – Since the McGregor loss, Holloway is riding an impressive five fight win streak. He’s the only UFC McGregor opponent to go the distance (although McGregor’s ACL tear was definitely a huge influence).
Dennis Bermudez – Was on a seven fight UFC win streak before being submitted (guillotine choke) by Lamas in November.
We cited the wrestling of many of the fighters listed above – the reason being that many people feel that Conor has been spoonfed strikers suited to his fighting style.
Bantamweight Champ TJ Dillashaw certainly feels that way:
“I think Frankie Edgar would destroy Conor McGregor. Chad Mendes would destroy Conor McGregor. We haven’t seen Conor McGregor fight a wrestler or a top name.”
The Featherweight fights this weekend will go a long way towards determining the future direction of the division.
Crucially, regardless of the results this weekend, both Champion and contender have made noises about a potential move up to Lightweight – Aldo due to having cleaned out the division already and McGregor because he wants to take on all comers and have bigger paydays. This would change the division to such a degree that any one of at least half a dozen fighters would have a legitimate claim to being the top dog – making it the most competitive division in the sport as a result.
Enjoy the ride!