Lightweight or bantamweight? Ranking the 5 best divisions in the UFC

In addition to the ongoing debates about the best pound-for-pound fighter and the greatest fighter of all time, MMA fans also frequently engage in discussions about which division currently reigns supreme. If you were to get a general consensus today, the answer would either be one of lightweight or bantamweight — but we’re going to have a definitive ranking instead. So with that said, here’s ranking the five best divisions in the UFC.

5. Middleweight

The middleweight division is not what it was back in 2015 to 2017, but it’s slowly becoming a solid division again. Israel Adesanya is currently in his second reign as champion and will be facing a fresh, new contender in Dricus du Plessis next. Robert Whittaker, one of the best fighters in the world, will always be among title contention while the likes of Sean Strickland, Roman Dolidze, Brendan Allen, Nassourdine Imavov and Andre Muniz are just some of the names in the top 15 who are yet to fight Adesanya. And that’s without even mentioning Khamzat Chimaev, who will undoubtedly enter the top 15 should he win his next fight.

It’s not the most technical overall right now — especially compared to other divisions on this list — but it still has quite a number of big names and exciting rising contenders. Not to mention, some of the biggest characters in the entire UFC. Looking at you, Paulo Costa.

4. Women’s strawweight

If there’s any women’s division that has consistently held some of the best and most competitive fights at the top level, it’s the strawweight division. This is highlighted by the fact that the title has changed hands five times since 2019 and with the exception of Carla Esparza and her win over Rose Namajunas, just about every title fight over the last five years showcased some of the highest level MMA action we’ve seen. Who can forget Weili Zhang’s five-round war with Joanna Jedrzejczyk back in 2020?

Speaking of Zhang, she’s the current champion in her second reign as she defends her title against Amanda Lemos at UFC 292 next. It’s a new face in the title picture in Lemos, but should Zhang retain as expected, there’s a whole list of names ready to hunt her down from Namajunas, Yan Xionan, Mackenzie Dern, Jessica Andrade and the undefeated Tatiana Suarez — all of whom would be great fights for the Chinese superstar.

3. Featherweight

It’s no surprise that the best and most entertaining male fighters in the UFC come from the 135-155 pound weight classes where the athletes are skilled, quick and yet, have enough power to shut the lights off. There’s no better example of this than the featherweight division where pound-for-pound great Alexander Volkanovski continues to rule following his UFC 290 win over Yair Rodriguez this past weekend.

Volkanovski aside, there are a number of talented fighters at 145 pounds from Arnold Allen, Ilia Topuria, Calvin Kattar, Movsar Evloev, Bryce Mitchell and many more. The only problem is former champion Max Holloway stands in their way as the dreaded gatekeeper defeating just about everybody other than Volkanovski.

Hopefully, Topuria is able to skip over him and face Volkanovski in a title fight that could be one of the most highly-anticipated ones in recent history. If Volkanovski comes out on top once again, he’ll continue to cement his claim as not only the featherweight GOAT, but one of the greatest of all time period given the level of competition he’s beating.

2. Bantamweight

This might seem controversial since many MMA fans regard bantamweight to be the best division. That said, it’s still one of the greatest divisions the UFC has ever had when you consider the wealth of talent in the top 10. Aljamain Sterling is the reigning champion and while he’s under-appreciated, he still remains one of the best grapplers in the world.

He is set to defend his title against the always-entertaining Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 next month. How that fight goes is anyone’s guess, but just look at some of the names lying in wait for the next title shot: Henry Cejudo, Cory Sandhagen, Petr Yan, Marlon Vera, Rob Font and Song Yadong. That’s without even mentioning former champion Dominick Cruz while the likes of TJ Dillashaw and Jose Aldo only recently retired. Simply put, there are just killers throughout the 135-pound division.

1. Lightweight

When it’s all said and done, the reality is the lightweight division is still the premier division in the UFC. In fact, one would argue it’s been the best weight class since 2016 when it had the likes of Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson at the top of the division. Because of that longevity, it gets the edge over bantamweight.

While McGregor, Nurmagomedov and Ferguson are no longer at the top of the 155-pound ranks for various reasons, it hasn’t affected the division’s standing by any means. Islam Makhachev is now the current champion while all-action fighters like Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler still lurk in the top ranks. There’s also the likes of Arman Tsarukyan, Beneil Dariush, Rafael Fiziev and Mateusz Gamrot.

It’s just a stacked division with not only some of the most popular fighters in the entire roster, but some of the best lightweights in the world who are not even ranked as of yet. Consider this as well — when was the last time a lightweight main event, whether it’s in a pay-per-view or Fight Night, wasn’t a banger?

The post Lightweight or bantamweight? Ranking the 5 best divisions in the UFC appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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