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UFC bantamweight rankings: Sean O’Malley is the new king at 135 pounds

RankFighterRecordLast 3 Results
#1Sean O’Malley17-1-1W-W-NC
#2Aljamain Sterling23-4W-W-W
#3Merab Dvalishvili16-4W-W-W
#4Cory Sandhagen16-4W-W-W
#5Marlon Vera21-7-1W-L-W
#6Petr Yan16-5L-L-W
#7Henry Cejudo16-3L-W-W
#8Rob Font20-7L-W-L
#9Yadong Song20-7W-L-W
#10Umar Nurmagomedov16-0W-W-W

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.

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Who tops the latest UFC bantamweight rankings?

10. 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.

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9. Yadong Song (20-7)

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 established stars at bantamweight. He stepped up his competition level in a big way recently with mixed results.

However, at UFC Vegas 72 he scored one of his best wins yet against fellow ranked 135-er Ricky Simon. He handed the American his first loss in nearly four years, and by TKO no less.

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8. Rob Font (20-7)

Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After winning five straight and becoming a serious title contender for the first time, the Boston native suffered back-to-back losses against top competition in the UFC bantamweight rankings a couple of years ago. Since then he has had a lot of trouble building new momentum as he honorably has taken on some of the toughest tests in one of the sport’s best divisions.

He did just that in August when he faced top-ranked buzzsaw Cory Sandhangen at UFC Nashville and he was unfortunately and utterly dominated. Yet, the rankings stalwart is always up for taking on the next great challenge and will serve as former flyweight champion Deivson Figueiredo’s bantamweight welcoming party in Dec.

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7. Henry Cejudo (16-3)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

After three years away from the sport, former two-division champion Henry Cejudo made his Octagon return in May. Unfortunately, he was unable to extend his UFC win streak to seven when he fell by unanimous decision to champion Aljamain Sterling. In defeat, he showed he still has elite-level talent and is willing to climb the ladder to the top.

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6. Petr Yan (16-5)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Also Read: UFC Heavyweight Rankings – Looking at the 10 best at the UFC’s heaviest division

5. Marlon Vera (21-8-1)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Marlon Vera is now legitimately one of the best bantamweights on the planet. And his knockout wins over a pair of UFC immortals, Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz, stamped his place in the weight class. He is a tough out in every fight he is in, however, he has failed in some big opportunities that might have landed him a title fight in losses to Jose Aldo and Cory Sandhagen over the last few years.

Nevertheless, his win at UFC 292 keeps him right in the thick of title contention and he may be a win away from getting his long sought-after championship booking.

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4. Cory Sandhagen (16-4)

Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Despite his recent setbacks to TJ Dillashaw and Petr Yan, Cory Sandhagen is still was of the most dangerous fighters in the division. He showed that 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.

At UFC San Antonio he put on another display of his elite talent in a highly anticipated affair with Marlon Vera where he won nearly every round and pushed himself right back toward the front of the contender line. Then at UFC Nashville, he scored a third straight win with another dominant showing, this time over Rob Font.

If Sandhagen isn’t in a title bout next he should be in a title eliminator.

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3. Merab Dvalishvili (16-4)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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2. Aljamain Sterling (22-4)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Love him or hate him, Sterling is one of the best bantamweight fighters in division history. While his title win was controversial, there was no doubt about his victories in a Yan rematch and against former two-time champion TJ Dillashaw. Then he forever cemented his place with an impressive win over former pound-for-pound star Henry Cejudo.

However, all good things come to an end and Sean O’Malley definitively brought a finish to his title reign with a second-round TKO loss at UFC 292. It will be interesting to see if Sterling seeks out revenge in a rematch with his rival or holds true to his word and leaves the division for a featherweight change.

1. Sean O’Malley (17-1-1)

ufc bantamweight rankings
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Sean O’Malley has been a divisive talent in the UFC since he first entered the company. Many have questioned his rise by claiming he received favorable matchups and avoided certain competition. Nevertheless, “Sugar” worked his way to a title fight with his impressive showings and a big victory over former champion Petr Yan in 2022.

There were still many doubters when he entered the Octagon against Sterling at UFC 292, but he needed a little over five minutes to put that all to rest. Hate him or love him — and there are many more that dig the “Sugar” show — the young fighter is now the bantamweight king and on the cusp of superstardom at just 28.

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