Continuing on with my seven part series of taking a side by side look at the current champions in the three major MMA organizations here in the U.S., today we move up a weight class to featherweight (145 lbs.) As in the previous look at the bantamweights, there are only two champs to analyze as Strikeforce currently does not have a featherweight division.
That's a shame too because subconsciously with only two fighters to compare, it may look as though the UFC has a clear cut decisive advantage over Bellator; that isn't necessarily the case. It just so happens though that in this class, the UFC champion does happen to be the best featherweight on the planet. However, as you shall see, the only other featherweight who can possibly give him a run for the money also happens to be Bellator's current champion.
Here's my list of champions as I rank them:
1.) UFC - Jose Aldo (21-1, 13 KO's 2 subs)
Not only is Aldo (pictured above) universally considered the best featherweight on the planet, he is also in the top five discussion of pound for pound fighters in the world; arguably coming in at number three in some people's eyes behind only Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre. Like Dominick Cruz at bantamweight, he too was the titleholder at 145 lbs. in the WEC. Yet, that isn't what makes him number one.
It is the way he's toyed with the opposition throughout his career, though his three fights in the UFC haven't been as dominant. That is until his last fight where he demolished previously undefeated Chad Mendes as he's done with so many others, such as Cub Swanson above; with a devastating flying knee timed perfectly to the jaw.
Equipped with lightning fast hands, lethal kicks (just ask Urijah Faber) and a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu from the famed Nova Uniao camp in Brazil, there isn't much in the way of flaws in this still very young 25 year old. Recently working with Gray Maynard to tighten up his wrestling game, there really isn't anybody left to challenge Aldo at featherweight. Thus, the reason UFC President was trying as he might to get former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar to make the move down to 145.
2.) Bellator - Pat Curran (17-4, 5 KO's 5 subs)
Sadly, Aldo's best competition at this weight may actually be new Bellator champ Curran. The record may not look as impressive as Aldo's, but don't let that fool you. Three of his four losses came in his first 12 fights; since then he's (8-1) with eight of those fights coming in Bellator.
That lone defeat was a five round decision loss to former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, one of the world's best, at 155 lbs. After breezing through the competition in a lightweight tourney to earn the berth against Alvarez, Curran disciplined himself and dropped down to featherweight. The result was another impressive run in a 145 lbs. tourney earning him another title shot.
This time the result was different as he crushed then former champ Joe Warren within three rounds to win the belt. Curran continues to impress every single time he fights, showing marked improvement in his all around game. Big for this weight class, Curran is even younger than Aldo at only 24; but like Aldo he continues to expand his game and looks as though he can be the next big star at Bellator.
As stated above, Strikeforce does not have a featherweight champ, however they do have a champ at lightweight; boy do they ever. That will be the next division I will review in a couple of days.