|Rank||Fighter||Record||Last 3 Results|
The UFC bantamweight rankings are a showcase of some of the very best fighters in MMA as the division has slowly evolved to become arguably the most talent-rich in the entire sport. Where the lightweight was once considered the deepest weight class in the promotion, 135 pounds has surpassed it with an impressive and wide variety of fighters.
With that in mind, here is the official Sportsnaut top-10 for the organization’s bantamweight class.
Related: UFC tonight: Fight card, betting odds, and watch times for Saturday’s UFC event
10. Yadong Song (19-7)
Yadong Song has been one of the better fighters in the division over the last five years. In that time he is 8-3-1 and has beaten some very established talents at bantamweight. He stepped up his competition level in a big way in Sept. and took on the massive challenge that is Cory Sandhagen. Unfortunately, he was not up to that task.
In April he gets another strong test in eighth-ranked 135-er Ricky Simon. A victory gets him back the momentum he had after winning three straight. A loss would mean the first losing streak of his career.
- Next Fight: vs. Ricky Simon on Apr. 22
9. Umar Nurmagomedov (16-0)
Umar Nurmagomedov has quickly become a fighter to watch in the UFC bantamweight division. Not just because he shares a last name with one of the best fighters in promotion history, but because he is an elite prospect with world-champion potential.
He has been impressive over his first three bouts in the UFC and continued that impressive start with a filthy KO win at UFC Vegas 67. Not only can he grapple, but he has a sledgehammer opponents must now also be wary of.
- Next Fight: TBD
8. Ricky Simon (20-3)
After a pair of momentum-killing losses in 2019, Ricky Simon has been on a tear. He has won five straight and three were finishes. He is one of the best wrestlers in the division and has continued to evolve his striking game to a point where it deserves respect. He has earned a matchup with a top-10 fighter in his next outing. The question is, does a competitor among the bantamweight elites take a risky scrap against a red-hot fighter that is ranked lower than them?
Yong Sadong will take the vaunted wrestling test that Simon offers in April.
- Next fight: Yadong Song on Apr. 22
7. Rob Font (19-6)
After winning five straight and becoming a serious title contender for the first time, the Boston native has suffered back-to-back losses against top competition in the UFC bantamweight rankings. Now, he’s plummeted in the rankings and will need a couple of wins to earn back all that momentum he’s lost. Nevertheless, he’s a tough out and remains a dangerous matchup.
In April he will has been matched up with a similar competitor in talented boxer Adrian Yanez. It is another risky fight for Font but one with “Fight of the Year” potential in 2023.
- Next Fight: vs. Adrian Yanez at UFC 287 on April 8
6. Petr Yan (16-5)
Petr Yan has now lost three straight bouts for the first time in his career. While he was one of the best fighters in the weight class for a couple of years, the division has caught up and he has not been able to stem the tide of the plethora of contenders at bantamweight.
At UFC Vegas 71, he did a good job of thwarting Merab Dvalishvili’s wrestling advances over the first few rounds, however, “The Machine’s” relentless pace had an effect and he was able to take the final two rounds in a highly competitive fight. It will be interesting to see where Yan, a former bantamweight champion, goes next after this latest setback.
- Next Fight: TBD
5. Sean O’Malley (16-1-1)
Aside from an odd setback against fellow ranked fighter Marlon Vera two years ago, O’Malley has been stellar in his eight UFC appearances and has been a wrecking machine in many of his wins. Unfortunately, his UFC 276 clash with Pedro Munhoz ended in a no-contest after an eye-poke from O’Malley ended the bout early. However, he got the chance to redeem himself in a fight-of-the-night clash with Petr Yan at UFC 280.
While it seemed like he lost the bout, the judges awarded him the biggest win of his career. Whether you agreed with the decision or not, O’Malley proved once and for all that he really is an elite fighter and not just a hype train waiting to be derailed.
4. Cory Sandhagen (14-4)
Despite his recent setbacks to TJ Dillashaw and Petr Yan, Cory Sandhagen is still one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. He showed that once again at UFC Vegas 61 when he sliced open rising star Yadong Song with an elbow, and eventually got a fourth-round TKO from a doctor stoppage.
Sandhagen is now booked in one of the most anticipated scraps of 2023 when he battles fellow striking animal Marlon Vera in a UFC Fight Night main event in February. The winner of this one is sure to be in a title fight next.
- Next Fight: vs. Marlon Vera on March 25
3. Marlon Vera (20-7-1)
Vera continues to evolve as a fighter and is now legitimately one of the best bantamweights on the planet. And now he has knockout wins over a pair of UFC immortals in two of his last three wins. His victory over Dominick Cruz at UFC San Diego was classic “Chito.” He got off to a sluggish start, seemed down early, then turned the tide destructively. Following Yan and Dillashaw’s recent losses, he had a strong case to face the champ next.
However, with former two-division champ Henry Cejudo jumping back into the title picture, Vera will take a very dangerous fight against former interim title challenger Cory Sandhagen. In what will be the most anticipated fight in the first quarter of 2023.
- Next Fight: vs. Cory Sandhagen on March 25
2. Merab Dvalishvili (16-4)
Merab Dvalishvili is without a doubt the best wrestler in the entire division. Part of his grappling dominance comes from a relentless style and gas tank that really is second to none. However, he also offers up a high striking output that keeps opponents off balance and out of rhythm. He showcased all of the above in a major win against Jose Aldo at UFC 278 and again versus Peter Yan at UFC Vegas 71.
While the former champion put up as strong a resistance as any opponent has to the Georgian, his endless gas tank and heart continue to be one of the most impressive weapons in the division. The only unfortunate part of his win is that it clearly made him the most deserving title contender in the weight class, but he is unwilling to fight his friend, champion Aljamain Sterling.
- Next Fight: TBD
1. Aljamain Sterling (22-3)
Love him or hate him, Sterling is the best bantamweight in the world and was able to achieve what no other fighter in the UFC has, and legitimately scored a victory over Yan. While his first win over the former champ is disputed, there was no doubt about his victory at UFC 273. However, he earned another questionable win at UFC 280 against TJ Dillashaw. A fighter that apparently entered the bout with a serious shoulder injury that the promotion kept secret on fight week.
Now, Sterling will defend his title for a third time in May when he takes on the challenge of former two-division champion Henry Cejudo. A man that has not fought in three years and only had two previous bouts in the weight class.
- Next Fight: vs. Henry Cejudo at UFC 288 on May 6