UFC flyweight rankings: Who is the best flyweight fighter?

UFC flyweight rankings: Who is the best flyweight fighter?

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:17 PM

Since its inception in the UFC in 2012, the flyweight division has been a frequently ignored weight class. Even though the UFC had considered eliminating the flyweight division as recently as 2019 due to the rivalry between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno, the division has recently seen a surge in popularity. This article provides the latest UFC flyweight rankings.

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Henry Cejudo punches Demetrious Johnson in the third round of the UFC Flyweight Title Bout during UFC 227 at Staples Center on August 4, 2018, in Los Angeles, United States. Photo: Joe Scarnici
Source: Getty Images

After Figueiredo's victory over Moreno in their trilogy match at UFC 270, both men have established themselves as two of the sport's all-time greats at 125 pounds. The two winners are, of course, not the only exceptional mixed martial artists in the world.

UFC flyweight rankings in 2022

The UFC’s flyweight division is the lightest weight class out of all the men’s weight classes. It is also one of the newest weight classes in UFC history, only becoming officially established in 2011. As per statistics released in 2022, these are the top 10 artists in the Octagon.

10. Alexandre Pantoja

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Alexandre Pantoja of Brazil poses for a post-fight portrait backstage during the UFC 277 event at American Airlines Center on July 30, 2022, in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Mike Roach
Source: Getty Images

After only five years in the UFC, Alexandre Pantoja has already established himself as a major player. Pantoja is one of the best flyweights in the world, with a 24-5 record in his professional career with wins against some huge names.

Brandon Moreno, Manel Kape, and Kai Kara-France are among the fighters Pantoja has defeated in recent years. After beating Moreno twice, he was scheduled to fight for the flyweight championship at UFC 270. However, a knee injury prevented him from doing so.

9. Sergio Pettis

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Sergio Pettis (red gloves) in the cage after defeating Alfred Khashakyan (blue gloves) in their bantamweight fight in Inglewood, California. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Once
Source: Getty Images

Sergio Pettis's long career in the UFC might be best described as disappointing. Sergio Pettis, Anthony's sibling, entered the UFC with a lot of anticipation for him, but it took him a while to find his footing. But when he did, the result was electrifying.

During his career, Pettis was considered one of the top flyweights in the world. He was successful against legends like Brandon Moreno and Joseph Benavidez. After leaving the UFC in 2020 for Bellator, where he has since been equally successful, Pettis retained his Bellator belt with a recent knockout victory over Kyoji Horiguchi.

8. Jussier Formiga

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Alex Perez celebrates his TKO victory over Jussier Formiga in their flyweight bout during the UFC 250 event at UFC APEX on June 06, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC.
Source: Getty Images

Unfortunately for Jussier Formiga, he will never fight for a title despite being one of the greatest fighters in UFC history. Having won four consecutive bouts in 2019, Formiga would have been in contention for a title fight, but the UFC discussed eliminating the division at the time.

Despite this, his eight years of experience in the promotion are still impressive. He defeated future champs Deiveson Figueiredo and Sergio Pettis along the way. He has a victory over another great boxer on this list, Alexandre Pantoja.

7. Kyoji Horiguchi

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Kyoji Horiguchi interacts with media during the UFC Ultimate Media Day at the Hilton Tokyo on September 17, 2014, in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Keith Tsuji
Source: Getty Images

In 2013, Kyoji Horiguchi signed with the UFC and almost immediately received a title chance against Demetrious Johnson. Even though Horiguchi was ultimately unsuccessful in his pursuit of UFC gold in 2015, he has spent the better part of the last seven years proving why he is one of the greatest fighters in the world.

Despite his place in flyweight history, Horiguchi left the UFC in 2016 after a victory over Ali Bagautinov. He quickly signed with RIZIN after leaving, and his resume includes victories against Ian McCall, Manel Kape, and Darrion Caldwell. Along with RIZIN's title, he also has one from Bellator.

6. John Dodson

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Demetrious Johnson reacts after his victory over John Dodson in their flyweight championship bout during the UFC 191 event on September 5, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Jeff Bottari.
Source: Getty Images

John Dodson's problem was that he had to play in the same division as Demetrious Johnson. Dodson won the bantamweight tournament of The Ultimate Fighter 14 by knocking out T.J. Dillashaw, prompting him to drop down to 125 pounds.

Dodson battled it out in the division for the following four years, posting a 5-2 record inside the octagon. His two defeats came at the hands of Johnson. However, he came close to winning the first time he faced "Mighty Mouse" at UFC on Fox 6.

5. Joseph Benavidez

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Joseph Benavidez poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night ceremonial weigh-in at Chartway Arena on February 28, 2020, in Norfolk, Virginia. Photo: Josh Hedges
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Similarly to John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez faced the same problem and spent the prime of his career in a division dominated by Demetrious Johnson. Benavidez went 10-2, losing only once against Johnson between 2012 and 2017. He lost via split decision to "Mighty Mouse" in their first meeting, just like Dodson did in their first meeting at UFC 152.

Benavidez's impressive record includes victories over heavyweights like Henry Cejudo, Jussier Formiga, Ian McCall, and others. Benavidez will go down in MMA history as one of the best fighters despite never taking home the UFC championship.

4. Brandon Moreno

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Brandon Moreno of Mexico during the UFC 277 event at American Airlines Center on July 30, 2022, in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Josh Hedges
Source: Getty Images

Despite his recent loss, Brandon Moreno remains one of only a handful of UFC fighters who ever held the flyweight belt. With an 11-3 record and a loss on The Ultimate Fighter, Moreno is among the most inspiring underdog stories in mixed martial arts history.

Moreno had promised during his first stint in the UFC, but he was cut after losing his first two bouts in 2018. A year later, however, he was re-signed and embarked on a historic streak. Moreno won the flyweight championship after a perfect 4-0-2 run in his following six fights. He is currently 1-1-1 in his series with Deiveson Figueiredo and will likely get another opportunity at UFC gold.

3. Deiveson Figueiredo

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Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC 270 event at Honda Center on January 22, 2022, in Anaheim, California. Photo: Mike Roach
Source: Getty Images

Figueiredo, the only fighter in UFC history to win back-to-back flyweight titles, largely went unnoticed until he had a crack at the vacant 125-pound title in 2020. Figueiredo was an underdog going into the fight with Joseph Benavidez, yet the fight became one of the most lopsided in history.

Deiveson dominated the future Hall of Famer in two consecutive fights and won the UFC championship. After that, he defeated Alex Perez and began feuding with Brandon Moreno. Against his Mexican rival, he has the edge in the annals of boxing thanks to his historic second title win and overall resume.

2. Henry Cejudo

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Henry Cejudo of the United States speaks to the media during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020, in Jacksonville, Florida. Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice
Source: Getty Images

Given that Henry Cejudo's retirement was one of the greatest in MMA history, he will go down as one of the sport's all-time best flyweights. Cejudo had a successful start, going 2-0, before suffering defeats at the hands of Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. When he lost, Cejudo returned to training and eventually became an all-time great in the ring.

Cejudo had to win against past title contender Wilson Reis and eventual Bellator champion Sergio Pettis for another opportunity at Johnson. After an earlier loss, he knocked out the dominating champion and ended his flyweight run by knocking out TJ. Dillashaw was the dominant champion at the time.

1. Demetrious Johnson

Who is the No.1 UFC flyweight fighter?
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson poses for a portrait during the Ultimate Media Day on October 4, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Brandon Magnus
Source: Getty Images

Demetrious Johnson's dominance of the flyweight division from 2012-2018 solidified his legacy as a legendary fighter. During that time, Johnson went 12-0-1, defended his UFC championship 11 times, and became the organization's undisputed champion. He is the best in the current UFC flyweight rankings.

During that span, Johnson defeated several past and potential future champions. In the end, "Mighty Mouse" prevailed over Henry Cejudo, Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson, and Kyoji Horiguchi. Johnson has proven himself to be one of the greatest boxers by successfully defending his titles and winning numerous fights.

A panel of voters decides the active UFC flyweight rankings. Members of the press are included in this body of voters. Fighters can enter multiple weight classes and compete for titles in each.

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Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.