1. Lightweight: As soon as Benson Henderson won the UFC lightweight belt, questions about who he would fight next popped up. There were plenty of qualified options. Frankie Edgar, Anthony Pettis, Jim Miller, and Nate Diaz all show how strong this division is. Take a look outside the UFC, and you have Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez, Bellator champ Michael Chandler and the man he beat, Eddie Alvarez.
2. Heavyweight: A few years ago, I would have put this division at the bottom of the list, but in recent years, stars like Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez have emerged. Alistair Overeem bulked up and went to the UFC and the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix showed the strengths of heavyweights. Even with Brock Lesnar retired and Fedor Emelianenko fighting whoever he can, it's a strong division.
3. Light heavyweight: Jon Jones is at the top of a weight class that includes seven men who have held Strikeforce or UFC belts. Throw in younger fighters with tons of potential, like Phil Davis and Alexander Gustaffson, and you've got one heck of a division.
4. Middleweight: Anderson Silva's reign at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings helped power the 185ers to the top half of the list. What else helped? Chael Sonnen and his near-defeat of Silva, the way Vitor Belfort rebounded from his loss to Silva, and the strength of Mark Munoz and Michael Bisping, who are waiting in the wings for the next title shot.
5. Featherweight: Jose Aldo is really, really, really good, and the rest of the division is trying to keep up. Pat Curran and Joe Warren from Bellator strengthen the division. If Frankie Edgar decides to drop down after his fight with Benson Henderson, the division jumps a few notches.
6. Welterweight: The problem with the welterweights is that Georges St. Pierre is so good and also so injured, so it's hard to tell how much better he is than his counterparts when he hasn't fought since April of 2011. Nick Diaz's retirement/suspension and his inability to rematch with Carlos Condit doesn't help, either.
7. Bantamweight: At the top, you have current UFC champ Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, who will fight for the third time this summer. Then, you have several fighters who have lost to Faber and Cruz. Renan Barao or Michael McDonald have a shot at unseating Cruz or Faber, but they're not enough to make a strong division.
8. Flyweight: I love the way flyweights fight. If you watched last Friday's UFC on FX 2, you probably do, too. They're fast and have cardio for days. But as far as depth? It's still to be seen. Yasuhiro Urushitani, won of the best flyweights to come from Japan, was easily beaten by Joseph Benavidez. They will stay at the bottom of the pack until they're built up.
- Benson Henderson
- Frankie Edgar
- Anderson Silva