Henry Cejudo – 5-0-0 - American – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-11, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Possibly the most well known fighter on this list, Cejudo was an Olympic gold medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, becoming the youngest wrestler ever to win a gold medal for team USA. In addition to this he also won 4 high school state championships and won gold in the Pan American Championships in 2008. Since starting an MMA career last year he has fought regularly, winning 5 straight fights in 2013 alone. Although he fought as low as 121 pounds as a wrestler, he has fought all 5 of his MMA fights to date at bantamweight. He stopped his first 4 fights in the very first round due to punches and in his most recent fight for the Legacy FC promotion he won a decision over Ryan Hollis (4-1).
Aljamain Sterling – 8-0-0 – American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 22-9, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
Aljamain Sterling is one of the best wrestlers on this bantamweight list, second only to #1 ranked Henry Cejudo – he was a 2X NCAA Division 3 All American wrestler at University. He is the long time CFFC Bantamweight Champion, winning the title in October 2011 with an excellent upset victory over the experienced Sean Santella (8-2), a fight he won via a 5 round unanimous decision. He has since defended his title three times with three straight rear naked choke victories, beating Sidemar Honorio (8-2), Joel Roberts (8-4) and Casey Johnson (4-1). The 24 year old also had a 6-1 record as an amateur and trains at the excellent Serra-Longo fight team, where his training partners include UFC fighters Chris Weidman, Costas Philippou and Al Iaquinta.
Renato Moicano Carneiro – 7-0-1 - Brazilian – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 32-3, Last Fought: Jul ‘13
Last year’s number 4 ranked featherweight recently dropped to bantamweight to take the number 3 spot in this weight class. This drop to 135 pounds makes him an incredibly tall bantamweight at 5’11”, a frame he uses well to help his submission game. He has probably beaten the best competition out of anyone on this list - all 7 of his wins have been over very good opposition. In 2011 he beat UFC veteran Iliarde Santos (21-4) and in just his 2nd fight back in 2010 he dominated veteran Joao de Souza (32-8). He also holds a 2011 win over Joao Nogueira (11-3), and in his two fights in 2013 he has beaten Mauro Chaulet (10-4) and Nilson Pereira (11-6). The 23 year old also fights out of an excellent camp at Constrictor MMA team, where he trains alongside top UFC featherweight Rani Yahya.
Thomas De Almeida – 15-0-0 - Brazilian – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 22-13, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
Brazilian fighter Thomas De Almeida is a former Muay Thai fighter, where he held an impressive 26-3 record (16 KO’s). He is just 22 years old and 2 and a half years after making his MMA debut Almeida has fought 15 times already, winning each of them. His record is even more impressive as he has finished all 15 fights inside the distance, with 14 of the 15 wins coming in the very first round. He has won 11 of his fights by TKO and 4 by submission, including 6 wins in less than 2 minutes. He has fought the majority of his career on the regional circuits in Brazil, although he recently signed for American promotion Legacy FC where he has stopped both George Pacurariu (5-2) and Cody Williams (4-3) in the very first round. He trains out of feared Brazilian gym Chute Boxe and also holds a wins over Valdines Silva (8-4), Jose Alexandre (6-3), Ivonei Pridonic (4-2) and Willidy Viana (3-0).
Julio Arce – 4-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-5, Last Fought: Sep ‘13
Julio Arce was one of the biggest amateur stars in all of America – he was ranked the number 1 amateur bantamweight in the country in 2010, holding a perfect 11-0 amateur record and being the champion of 3 different promotions. He is just 24 years old and been training in MMA for over 10 years already. He is a true martial artist and in addition to his MMA record he also holds a 7-0 record in boxing, 6-1 record in Muay Thai and is also unbeaten in submission grappling competitions, winning two expert division championship belts. Since turning pro in MMA he has put together a perfect 4-0 record, with wins including Dennis Dombrow (5-2) and Corey Simmons (3-4). He trains at a good camp at Team Tiger Schulman, where his training partners include Uriah Hall, Lyman Good and Louis Gaudinot.
Pedro Munhoz – 9-0-0 - Brazilian – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-7, Last Fought: Aug ‘13
26 year old Munhoz has won all 9 of his professional fights and is the bantamweight champion of the RFA organisation. A jiu-jitsu black belt, Munhoz is a no-gi specialist who has competed in numerous jiu-jitsu tournaments. Since singing for the RFA promotion late in 2012 he has faced a huge step up in competition, but passed with flying colours. He got a 1st round submission of Bill Kamery (10-3) in his first fight for them and followed it up with another 1st round submission over Mitch Jackson (19-3). In his most recent fight in August he got the best win of his career when he won the RFA bantamweight title with a close split decision victory over UFC veteran Jeff Curran (34-15). He has finished 6 of his 9 fights, with 4 coming by Submission and 2 due to strikes.
Michinori Tanaka – 9-0-0 - Japanese – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 23-8, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Young Japanese prospect Michinori Tanaka burst onto the MMA scene in Japan when he won a reasonably stacked Rookie Tournament for the Shooto promotion in December 2011, dominating Akihito Ishihara (3-0) in the final to win the prize. The 23 year old is a grappler and has finished 5 of his 9 fights by submission. In a 2012 fight for the PXC promotion he won the battle of unbeaten prospects and handed current UFC fighter Russell Doane (8-0) his first defeat. He followed this up with a win over Crisanto Pitpitunge (5-1) to win the PXC bantamweight title and in his most recent fight in October he ended the 4 fight winning streak of Kyle Aguon (6-3) to defend his belt. He trains out of Reversal Gym, a solid Japanese gym which also houses veteran Shinichi Kojima.
Brett Johns – 8-0-0 - Welsh – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 21-8, Last Fought: Sep ‘13
One of just 2 fighters from Wales on the entire 2014 list, Brett Johns made a name for himself in last September when he won the 4-man one-night bantamweight tournament to become the inaugural Cage Warriors FC bantamweight champion. On his way to winning the title he won 2 decisions over David Haggstrom (7-1) and Jordan Desborough (7-2). Nicknamed ‘The Pikey’, he is now 4-0 under the Cage Warriors banner and with his other wins for them being over James MacAlister (7-1) and Sam Gilbert (6-2). It is incredible what he has achieved considering he is just 21 years old and in addition to his pro record, he was also a perfect 4-0 as an amateur.
Mario Israel – 9-0-0 - Brazilian – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-3, Last Fought: Aug ‘13
With his 3 solid wins in 2013, Mario Israel rises 15 places from the 2013 list to take 9th spot this year. The 29 year old turned pro in 2008 and won his first fight, but took 4 years off and returned in 2012 and has since won 8 fights in a 2 year period. He has impressively finished all 9 of his fights, with 6 TKO’s and 3 submissions, including a 2012 victory via head kick knockout. Early in 2013 he signed with the Jungle fights promotion and has since gone 3-0 for them, winning their bantamweight title in his most recent fight with a knockout win over Reginaldo Oliveira (10-2). He trains at Top Life Arazones with UFC fighter Adriano Martins and also holds wins over Atila Pininga (8-5) and Felipe Rego (3-0).
Luis Rafael Laurentino – 24-0-0 - Brazilian – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 18-20, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
Brazilian fighter Luis Rafael has the best record on this bantamweight list at 24-0. He trains at Renovacao Fight Team, one of Brazil’s top camps that also house Jose Maria Tome, Luis Nogueira and Luiz Dutra Jr. Incredibly he has fought all 24 of his fights since midway through 2012 and has fought 21 times in 2013 alone. Out of his 24 victories he has gone to the judges’ scorecards just three times, finishing 15 fights by submission and 6 by TKO, including a gogoplata submission victory and 2 via head kick knockout. On the whole he has fought very inexperienced opposition, although he does have a couple of good decision wins over Claudir Dutkevis (9-3) and Ranieri Bueno (9-3). He is a big bantamweight at 5’9” and recently dropped to 135 pounds from featherweight.
Peter Montibeller – 5-0-0 – Brazilian – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-4, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Brazilian fighter Peter Montibeller is extremely well rounded – as well as being a black belt in jiu-jitsu, he is also a master of capoeira and has amateur boxing experience. In his MMA debut he won the BTF bantamweight title and has since put together a solid 5-0 record. The 26 year old has finished 3 of his 5 victories, with 3 knockout wins and 2 decisions. In his most recent 2 fights in 2013 he gained good knockout wins over Alessandro Cordeiro (5-3) Laertes De Paula (5-7).
Marcin Lasota – 7-0-0 - Polish – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 20-7, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
Before turning professional Polish fighter Marcin Lasota had an extensive amateur career, finishing with an impressive 19-5 record. He has a number of jiu-jitsu accomplishments, including 1st place in the Polish BJJ Championships. After going to a decision in his first 3 fights, the 24 year old has submitted 3 of his past 4 opponents. The only Polish fighter on the Bantamweight list has beaten some very credible opponents so far, holding wins over Aleksander Georgas (5-1), Filip Macek (6-3) and Artur Jevsejcik (6-4). In his most recent fight in April he gained the best win of his career when he won the battle of Poland’s top bantamweight prospects and submitted the previously unbeaten Tymoteusz Swaitek (10-0). He recently signed for Cage Warriors and has hinted at a move down to flyweight.
Jonas Bilharinho – 4-0-1 - Brazilian – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-1, Last Fought: Apr ‘13
Jonas ‘Speed’ Bilharinho is touted as the next big thing to come out of Team Nogueira. He is a Muay Thai fighter and held a perfect 8-0 record before turning to MMA. He trains alongside some of the best fighters in the world on a daily basis and has already got an impressive highlight reel in just 4 wins, with one stoppage due to head kick and one due to body shops. After starting out his career with a draw, he has since won 4 straight fights, finishing all of them, with his most recent 3 wins coming via TKO. He fights for the Jungle Fight promotion and in his most recent fight he stopped Allan Miguel (7-2) in the 2nd round.
Brandon Phillips – 4-0-0 – American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 2-0, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
24 year old American Brandon Phillips was an amateur star before turning pro – he was the champion of 2 different promotions and ended his amateur career with an excellent 14-2 record. Since turning professional in 2013 he has continued his good form, moving to a perfect 4-0. On top of this, he has finished all of his fights, with 3 TKO wins and 1 submission. However he has fought a poor level of opposition so far.
Matheus Mattos – 6-0-1 - Brazilian – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-3, Last Fought: May ‘13
Matos is an Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira protégé who trains out of Team Nogueira alongside the likes of the Nogueira bro’s and the Pitbull Freire bro’s. The 21 year old turned professional at the beginning of 2011 and has since racked up 6 wins, all coming by stoppage. As you would expect of a Nogueira pupil he is well rounded with 3 TKO’s and 3 submissions. Among his wins include a 2012 superman punch knockout in less than 2 minutes. The down side to his record is that he has faced a poor level of opposition.
Victor Henry – 6-0-0 - American – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 10-10, Last Fought: Aug ‘13
Victory Henry is a protégé of top UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett and trains alongside him at CSW. He has fought for a variety of regional promotions in America including BAMMA USA, KOTC and RITC. He is primarily a jiu-jitsu fighter and in 2012 he won gold in the Gracie Nationals. The 26 year old has finished 4 of his 6 fights with 3 submissions and 1 TKO, and early last year he handed Bronson Casarez (4-0) his first defeat. He has since followed this up with victories over Jeff Martin (10-8) and Kevin Michel (5-5).
Dae Hwan Kim – 9-0-1 – South Korea – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-3, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
The lone South Korean fighter out of the entire 230 fighters this year, Hwan Kim has compiled an impressive 9-0-1 record with 6 stoppages (4 submissions & 2 TKO’s). Kim started his career in 2008 when he won the 8 man Spirit MC Bantamweight tournament by defeating 3 men in one night. After taking a 3-year hiatus the 26 year old returned in 2011 and has since posted 6 more wins. Generally he has fought a poor level of opposition, however last year he signed for top Asian promotion One FC and in his debut for them he submitted Thanh Vu (3-2).
Pedro Souza – 7-0-0 - Brazilian – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-8, Last Fought: Aug ‘13
25 year old Brazilian Pedro Souza is a submission specialist and has put together a solid 7-0 record on the regional circuit in Brazil. He won the Jaciara FC bantamweight championship in June last year with a 1st round submission win and signed with top Brazilian promotion Jungle Fight following the victory, winning his first fight for them in August. He has finished all 7 of his fights, with 6 submissions & 1 TKO, and holds a solid win over Gustavo Mendonca (9-6). He trains out of CM System alongside UFC fighter Cristiano Marcello and Bellator veteran Bruno Carvalho.
Eli Tamez – 6-0-0 – American – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-9, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
28 year old Tamez trains at a good camp at Octagon MMA where he trains alongside UFC fighter Sean Spencer, and his coaches include jiu-jitsu master Bruno Bastos and Olympic wrestling silver medallist Jamill Kelly. During his amateur career he held a 5-1 record and was the Chaos at the Coliseum champion. Since turning pro in 2011 he has won all 6 fights, winning 3 by decision, 2 by submission and 1 by TKO. In his most recent fight he beat Eliazar Rodriguez (4-2) to move to 2-0 under the Legacy FC promotion.
Magomed Biboulatov – 5-0-0 – French – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-3, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Magomed Biboulatov is a French fighter of Russian descent that has recently dropped down to 135 pounds from featherweight. He has fought each of his 5 fights in the 6 months since making his debut in June last year and in August he won 3 fights in one night to win the 8 man bantamweight tournament, beating Oscar Nave (8-7) in the final to win the WUFC bantamweight title. The 25 year old has finished 3 of his 5 fights by submission and in his most recent fight in October he beat the previously unbeaten Taylor Lapilus (5-0).
Gareth Pilot – 5-0-1 – English – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-5, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
One of just 2 English fighters on this year’s bantamweight list, Gareth Pilot is a grappling specialist and has finished 4 of his 5 wins via submission. Nicknamed ‘Gaz’, as an amateur he held a solid 4-1 record and had a submission win over Pietro Menga, who is now 10-0 as a pro and one of the biggest flyweight prospects in the world. He has beaten some solid opposition so far his pro career, with wins over James McGuinness (7-2) and Martin Sheridan (6-3).
Thiago Ferrari – 4-0-0 - Brazilian – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-3, Last Fought: Sep ‘13
Brazilian fighter Thiago Ferrari is a Muay Thai specialist and has won each of his first 4 pro fights after going 2-0 as an amateur. He trains out of 011 MMA Team, an up and coming camp in Brazil, and has stopped 3 of his first 4 opponents due to punches. He has fought all 4 fights in 2013 and in his most recent fight in September he stepped up in competition to stop Tiago Santos (4-1) in the first round.
Harold Banario – 4-0-0 – Filipino – 19 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 1-4, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
Harold Banario may be known to some people as he is the younger brother of former One FC featherweight champion Honorio Banario. Honorio’s brother Harold is just 19 years old and fights a weigh class below him at bantamweight. Just like his brother he trains out of the famous Lakay MMA camo in the Philippines, where other training partners include Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon and Roy Docyogen. He fights for the PXC promotion and has started off his MMA career with a perfect 4-0 record with 2 finishes and 2 decisions.
Dean Garnett – 5-0-0 – English – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 10-8, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
The second English bantamweight on this year’s list, Dean Gurnett trains out of Liverpool’s Next Generation gym alongside UFC veteran Rosi Sexton and CWFC fighters Chris Fishgold & Danny Roberts. As well as holding a 5-0 pro record he also held an unbeaten 3-0 record as an amateur. He is a big bantamweight, having fought a lot of his career as a featherweight. Garnett is primarily a grappler and the BJJ purple belt has finished 3 of his 5 fights by submission. In his most recent fight he beat veteran Niko Gjoka (9-8).
Tavvakul Ragimov – 7-0-0 – Ukrainian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 2-1, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
The only fighter from Ukraine on this year’s bantamweight list, Tavvakul Ragimov quietly put together a solid 7-0 record whilst fighting for the OC promotion in his home country. He has kept extremely active since making his debut, fighting each of his 7 fights in the last 15 months. In addition to this he has a good finishing ratio, finishing 6 of his 7 fights, with 5 of these wins coming via submission. He has however fought a very poor level of opposition.
Ray Elizalde – 4-0-0 - American – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-1, Last Fought: May ‘13
American bantamweight Ray Elizalde is a wrestler from California and has won his first 4 fights since making his debut in 2011. He won twice in 2011, but was forced to take 18 months off due to injury. Since returning to action in 2013 he has won 2 more fights, with his best win over Atiq Jihad (4-5). He has been plying his trade on the regional circuits of California and has managed to finish 2 of his 4 fights by submission.
Derinaldo Guerra Da Silva – 17-0-0 – Brazilian – 33 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-13, Last Fought: May ‘13
Although Derinaldo Da Silva has the second most wins on this year’s bantamweight list, he is perhaps lucky to still be unbeaten – among his 17 wins include 5 split decision victories, not too impressive considering the poor level of opposition he has faced - his best win is just over Joao Ferreira Jr (3-5). The 33 year old is however a very good stand up artist and has finished 8 fights due to strikes, with 3 wins via head kick knockout.
Yusuke Tamashiro – 4-0-0 – Japanese – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-2, Last Fought: Apr ‘13
The second of two Japanese fighters on this year’s bantamweight list, Tamashiro has put together a 4-0 record over solid opposition. The 27 year old fights for the Pancrase organisation and has finished 3 of his 4 fights in the very first round, with 2 TKO’s and 1 submission. He made his debut back in 2007, but after taking a 5 year hiatus he has won twice since making his return in 2012, beating Tatsuya So (12-7) and Kazuma Sone (10-5).
Egly Diaz – 4-0-0 - Filipino – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-2, Last Fought: Mar ‘13
The second fighter from the Philippines on this year’s bantamweight list, Diaz fights for the Filipino URCC organisation. Diaz has won each of his 4 fights comfortably so far, submitting his opponent in the first round in each fight, with 2 of the wins coming in less than 2 minutes. He has not been very active in his career however, fighting just once a year since making his debut in 2010. Among his wins include Florian Garel (2-1) and Miguel Alo (2-1).
Kong Dina – 4-0-0 - Cambodian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-1, Last Fought: Jul ‘13
Rounding off the bantamweight list this year is Kong Dina, the only fighter from Cambodia on this year’s entire list who has made an excellent 4-0 start to his MMA career. He fights for the CTN Promotions organisation, the only MMA promotion in Cambodia, and has won all 4 of his fights. He won his first 3 fights via 1st round TKO and went to a decision in his most recent fight. His wins include Yous Sam Al (3-0) and Soung Sovantha (2-1).