Cruz leads the pack, but on the shelf for a while
HeavyMMA's fighter rankings are back this week with a look at the bantamweight division. UFC 135-pound champion Dominick Cruz was set to defend his title against Urijah Faber in July, but a blown ACL will keep him on the shelf likely through the calendar year. So there could be plenty of shuffling around underneath him until he gets back.
Heavy's panel consists of HeavyMMA editor Matt Brown, writer Duane Finley and writer/editor Matt Erickson. Each panelist compiles his rankings independently, and the votes are tabulated to reach the results listed below. Coming next week, we'll take a look at the featherweight division.
1. Dominick Cruz
UFC champ (19-1, 2-0 UFC)
The champ is here – and will be for a while, on the shelf with a blown ACL suffered while training for his third fight against Urijah Faber. Cruz has said he wants to return in four months since the likeliest time table is nine months. Four months seems impossible. Seeing him back this calendar year would be pretty much miraculous.
2. Urijah Faber
(26-5, 2-1 UFC)
Faber is going to get an interim title fight at UFC 148 on July 7. But against who? We're waiting to hear, and Dana White likely will announce it in the next few days. Renan Barao is probably the best possibility, though don't rule out Michael McDonald, either.
3. Renan Barao
(28-1, 1 NC, 3-0 UFC)
Barao hasn't lost in more than seven years. He's scheduled to fight Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148 – but don't be surprised if he's elevated to an interim title fight against Faber.
4. Michael McDonald
(15-1, 4-0 UFC)
With four straight wins to start his UFC career, including last month's impressive knockout of former champ Miguel Torres, McDonald is one of three names, along with Barao and Ivan Menjivar, being mentioned for an interim title fight against Faber at UFC 148. If the shot goes to Barao, McDonald could slip in to fight Menjivar on the card.
5. Eduardo Dantas
Bellator champ (14-2, 4-0 Bellator)
What an impressive run for Dantas, who won the Season 5 Bellator bantamweight tournament, then pretty much obliterated Zach Makovsky to win the title. He's without question the best bantamweight outside the UFC.
6. Ivan Menjivar
(24-8, 3-0 UFC)
Though Menjivar has won all three of his UFC fights, he's a bit below the radar to picture him getting a shot at the interim title against Faber at UFC 148. His scheduled opponent, Barao, could get the shot. And if that happens, don't be surprised if McDonald is asked to fight Menjivar with the winner getting the next shot at the Faber-Barao winner. Or, of course, everything could stay the same and the UFC could go a completely different direction.
7. Scott Jorgensen
(13-5, 2-1 UFC)
In nearly three years, "Young Guns" has just two losses – a title fight decision loss to Cruz and a decision loss to Barao. He gets former champ Eddie Wineland next month to open up the main card of UFC on FX 3 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He's coming off the loss to Barao, but he's also never lost two straight.
8. Brian Bowles
(10-2, 2-1 UFC)
Bowles is coming off a submission loss to Faber at UFC 139 in November. He's getting due for a fight, so his name should be called again soon so he can try to climb his way back up the ladder toward the belt he once held.
9. Bibiano Fernandes
A highly ranked featherweight, Fernandes is also stellar at bantamweight after making quick work of Antonio Banuelos to win the Dream 135-pound title.
10. Brad Pickett
(21-6, 1-1 UFC)
Pickett had a second straight Fight of the Night and third in his last four – but this one was finally a win for him when he submitted Damacio Page last month. Now he needs to put a winning streak together.
On the fringe: Darren Uyenoyama, Miguel Torres, Eddie Wineland, Zach Makovsky, Takeya Mizugaki, Marcos Galvao, Antonio Banuelos, Chris Cariaso, Raphael Assuncao, Yves Jabouin
Make sure to check out who ruled the roost in other divisions:
HeavyMMA's Pound-for-Pound rankings (March 26)
HeavyMMA's Heavyweight rankings (April 2)
HeavyMMA's Light Heavyweight rankings (April 9)
HeavyMMA's Middleweight rankings (April 16)
HeavyMMA's Welterweight rankings (April 23)
HeavyMMA's Lightweight rankings (April 30)
HeavyMMA's Featherweight rankings (May 7)
And stay tuned for our every-Monday rankings in a new weight class!
HeavyMMA's Pound-for-Pound rankings: Coming May 21