MMA Power Rankings -- Featherweight

Updated: January 2, 2012, 12:40 PM ET
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
Monday, Jan. 2
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In the space of a year, the UFC's featherweight class has gone from a subdivision known as the WEC to an overflowing class of contenders. It began with the exodus of lightweights who made the cut to either reinvent themselves as 145-pounders or because they'd only been parading at lightweight to compete in the UFC. Once the division was introduced, membership numbers skyrocketed.

Yet for all the Kenny Florians and Charles Oliveiras and Tyson Griffins who were/are dropping down, the 145-pound division's top 10 is full of guys who've always been there. Jose Aldo is still the king of the feathers, and he'll defend his strap on Jan. 14 against Chad Mendes on his native soil. As a legit No. 1 versus No. 2, the fight is premium material -- but as a dynamic striker versus a grinding wrestler, the battle of wills makes it compelling. What happens when Aldo fights from his back? Indeed, can Mendes execute his game plan? The Chael Sonnen/Anderson Silva vibe is a live one at UFC 142.

And that's only talking about the UFC. There's also the periphery. The guys in Bellator are wreaking havoc on one another like Pat Curran, Joe Warren, Patricky Freire and Marlon Sandro. All of them are top 10 guys. When you add in up-and-comers like Dustin Poirier and Erik Koch -- not to mention the sudden arrival of Jimy Hettes, who wrecked Nam Phan for three Goliath rounds at UFC 141 -- and the 145-pound division is about as deep as it's ever been.