Power Ranking Each UFC Weight Class Based on Depth and Excitement

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2013

Power Ranking Each UFC Weight Class Based on Depth and Excitement

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    With unparalleled access to international talent and in-cage matchmaking, the UFC has exponentially expanded over the years.

    This has created an influx of not only Octagon excitement on the heels of budding prospects and key contenders, but also unfathomable depth unseen in the promotion before.

    Now even though each of the UFC's nine weight classes supports itself from within, the landscape of any division evolves as frequently as the fighters competing within them.

    That's just the way it goes.

    With that said, here is a well-rounded power ranking sourcing depth and excitement to calculate which UFC division takes the cake.

9. Flyweight

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    As good as champion Demetrious Johnson, top contender Joseph Benavidez and former title threats John Dodson and Ian McCall truly are, there's just too much of a drop-off outside of the top four to rescue the flyweight division from the pits of this list.

    However, with the UFC currently excavating and sifting untapped talent south of the border, the division holds much promise heading into 2014.

    If the promotion can bring in some high-caliber strikers to help boost knockout rates and highlight-reel finishes, outside of what Benavidez has already done, then the smallest fighters in the UFC will find their way.

8. Women's Bantamweight

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    Nobody really knew what the UFC was getting itself into when they decided to create a women's division late last year.

    People weren't completely sold on women being able to put forth ample excitement and noticeable talent in order to challenge the men for cage time.

    However, despite minimal notoriety and public exposure, the girls have delivered on all cylinders. As a matter of fact, many of the division's key fights ended up being some of the best bouts of the year, period.

    If the UFC can continue to push promotion through outlets like The Ultimate Fighter and optimize the Octagon ferocity that has spilled over thus far, the women's division will thrive.

7. Bantamweight

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    The bantamweight crop heap has always been on the outskirts of the UFC's prominent divisional powers.

    The weight class has done its best over the years by riding the efforts of interim champ Renan Barao, Urijah Faber, Michael McDonald and even Eddie Wineland, but when your true titleholder rides the pine for over two years, things begin to crumble.

    Now while many pinpoint the bantamweight scene as one full of top-teir veteran talent with a sprinkle of mid-tier mediocrity, there's no denying that the division holds invaluable potential.

    Hopefully the addition of guys like Sergio Pettis, Chris Holdsworth and Lucas Martins can provide a youthful spark for a rather stagnant class awaiting the return of Dominick Cruz.

6. Middleweight

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    Champion Chris Weidman not only captured UFC gold when he shockingly defeated Anderson Silva earlier this year, but he immediately handed the middleweight division the abrupt shakeup it yearned for.

    For years, Silva's dominance stifled a division unable to control his elite striking and tumultuous timing. His reign as king more or less transformed the weight class into a predictable calamity.

    However, Weidman's historic upset has given the division a second wind. New matchups, new horizons and new possibilities now surround one of the promotion's most storied weak points.

    Also, it doesn't hurt to add Ronaldo Souza, Lyoto Machida, Luke Rockhold and a smoldering Vitor Belfort into the mix.

5. Heavyweight

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    For what the heavyweight division holds in talent and depth, Cain Velasquez could remain champ for a very long time.

    Now that's not to say the baddest man on the planet wouldn't rack off title defense after title defense if the heavyweight division was stacked to the brim, but for the sake of this list, it simply isn't.

    Sure rising prospects like Travis Browne, Stipe Miocic and Jared Rosholt hold top-level potential moving forward, but it's nothing the champion can't handle.

    So why does a seemingly one-sided heavyweight division land at No. 5, you ask?

    It's easy. Everybody loves watching two ginormous monsters slinging sweaty leather at one another in order to send the little teeth they have left into the fourth row.

    That's excitement. Isn't it?

4. Light Heavyweight

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    Jon Jones is the king of mixed martial arts and the war-tested champion of a slowly depleting light heavyweight division.

    The fact of the matter is that with the decline of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, the absence of Lyoto Machida, the collapse of Ryan Bader and the laughable efforts of Chael Sonnen, the weight class has never looked more top-heavy.

    But with key contenders like Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira and Phil Davis emerging like sunken gems, Jones' road to more effortless title defenses has never looked tougher.

    So despite the consuming quicksand that has engulfed the majority of former top contenders, the light heavyweight roster remains potent.

    Not to mention, Daniel Cormier's inevitable drop down, Gegard Mousasi's coming out party, Jimi Manuwa and Gian Villante's maturation, and Robert Drysdale's arrival can all take the weight class to the next level.

3. Lightweight

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    Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez. That's all you really need to know.

    But considering half of this list revolves around divisional depth, here we go.

    As of right now, on the heels of Anthony Pettis ending a rather uneventful Benson Henderson championship reign, the lightweight division hasn't looked this good since B.J. Penn ran the operation.

    Sure an injured TJ Grant and a depleted Gray Maynard have slightly tainted the weight class over the past year, but with a resurgent Josh Thomson and an undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov gaining ground quickly, things are looking up.

    If Pettis can stay healthy in 2014, we could be looking at the best run of lightweight title fights possible ever.

2. Welterweight

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    Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler, Rory MacDonald, Jake Ellenberger, Matt Brown, Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley, Jake Shields and Hector Lombard.

    Those are the names of all the welterweights who could potentially contend for a title in 2014. That's depth at its finest.

    Now while the whole Georges St-Pierre saga has yet to write its ending, as well as Johny Hendricks waiting for a well-deserved second chance at UFC gold, the welterweight division is simply scintillating.

    From highlight-reel knockouts to bloody brawls, wars of attrition to grappling chess matches, the collection of 170-pound athletes gracing the UFC roster offers something for everyone.

    Sprinkle in Gunnar Nelson, Kelvin Gastelum, Brandon Thatch, Hyun-Gyu Lim, Adlan Amagov, Yan Cabral and a potential Nick Diaz return, and you have a division destined for perennial greatness.

1. Featherweight

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    Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a volcano-induced firestorm, the UFC featherweight division has gone from worst to best in just a matter of years.

    Once recognized as one of the shallowest and least-exciting weight classes in the promotion, the featherweight index has evolved beyond expectation.

    Due in part to former lightweight standouts like Frankie Edgar, Nik Lentz and Clay Guida making a move down from 155, the division is constantly upgrading.

    When you have one of the best fighters in the world in Jose Aldo residing as champ, there better be a handful of guys ready to challenge his dominance.

    Luckily for us, key threats like Ricardo Lamas, Chad Mendes, Cub Swanson, Chan-Sung Jung, Dustin Poirier and Edgar do exist.

    As far as depth is concerned, the 145-pound roster has it. From Conor McGregor to Dennis Bermudez, Jeremy Stephens to Andre Fili, the division has never possessed more diversity and promise.

    Not to mention the return of B.J. Penn.

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