UFC Featherweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch



UFC Featherweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch

The UFC started its journey way back in 1993, but it did not have a featherweight division until 2011. The UFC featherweight division was born after UFC president Dana White announced that World Extreme Cagefighting would merge with UFC. Following the merger, the WEC Featherweight Division became the UFC featherweight division. 

This decision was somewhat of a surprise as UFC was thriving on its heavyweight appeal. However, the featherweight division has proven to be a fruitful addition. It delivered numerous memorable fights like the iconic José Aldo vs Conor McGregor bout, which generated a staggering $80 million in pay-per-view sales.

This article will take a deep dive into the UFC featherweight division. We're talking rankings, up-and-coming fighters, a history lesson on the weight class, the reigning champion, and everything else you need to know.

UFC Featherweight Division Explained

The UFC featherweight division has faced some hurdles on its journey as it has been constantly overshadowed by the appeal of contenders in other weight classes. Even though the division may sometimes be considered underwhelming, experts say the fights here are more technical and have a great blend of styles.

However, the division has felt a fresh punch of energy recently as Illia Topuria just defeated the reigning champion, Alexander Volkanovski. The champion has significantly shaken up the roster by continuing his 15-match win streak and by being the first fighter to take down Volkanovski in the featherweight division.

The recent matchup has allowed newer talents like Movsar Evloev, Arnold Allen and Brian Ortega to move up their rankings. These fighters have gotten an opportunity to display their potential against top-rated individuals. With a new champion, a strong roster of fighters eagerly awaits to prove themselves. 

Considering everything that’s happening in the featherweight division, we can expect to see the landscape evolve with a mixture of new-blood and old veterans having a go at the championship title.

Recent Notable UFC Featherweight Results

  • Alexander Volkanovski vs Ilia Topuria – Ilia Topuria wins by KO/TKO
  • Calvin Kattar vs Aljamain Sterling – Sterling wins via decision

The long-reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski was knocked out by the up-and-comer Ilia Topuria in the second round of UFC 298, claiming the featherweight championship with an impressive performance. 

At UFC 300, former UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling moved up to the heavyweight division, and secured a dominant decision win over Calvin Kattar. While Sterling's grappling heavy approach didn't make for the most fan friendly fight, it was what he needed to assert his presence in this new division.

Upcoming Notable UFC Featherweight Division Fights

  • Andre Fili vs Cub Swanson

There are currently no ranked matchups between UFC featherweight fighters. There is, however, an exciting fight between two longtime UFC veterans, Cub Swanson and Andre Fili, which is taking place on June 29.

Who is the Current UFC Featherweight Champion?

Ilia Topuria is the current UFC Featherweight Champion. He has recently won the title by defeating former champion Alexander Volkanovski. Volkanovski has been the UFC featherweight champion for about four years. Topuria’s victory against Volkanovski is considered a major upset and the start of a new era in the featherweight division. 

Hailing from Germany, the fighter began his career way back on October 10, 2020, winning against Youssef Zalal. Specializing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the fighter was fairly successful in other scenes in Spain and Finland. After signing as a replacement for Seung Woo Choi in the fight against Zalal, Topuria continued his win streak in UFC. 

During his career, Topuria got in the octagon with some major fighters like Ryan Hall, Bryce Mitchell and Josh Emmett. He went on to establish his record of 15 wins and no losses, where he won five bouts with a KO and eight by submission. His aggressive grappling and striking make his matches quite exciting and turned him into a fan favorite.

With the Featherweight Championship around his waist, Topuria is expected to become a major fighter in his division and open the gates to newer, talented contenders to perform in the UFC. We are also expecting to see a rematch against Volkanovski in the near future for the championship title.

UFC Featherweight Rankings in 2024

Here are the top 15 best UFC featherweight fighters currently in active competition:

Champion: Ilia Topuria

  1. Alexander Volkanovski
  2. Max Holloway
  3. Brian Ortega
  4. Yair Rodriguez
  5. Movsar Evloev
  6. Arnold Allen
  7. Josh Emmett
  8. Aljamain Sterling
  9. Calvin Kattar
  10. Giga Chikadze
  11. Bryce Mitchell
  12. Edson Barboza
  13. Dan Ige
  14. Diego Lopes
  15. Sodiq Yusuff

Fighters to Watch in the UFC Featherweight Division

Although the featherweight division is comparatively new in the UFC, there is a large roster of talented fighters in the division. After the merge with WEC, this division has seen some incredible fighters with unique mix styles. Because of the technical mindset and blend of different techniques, the featherweight division is considered to be pretty underrated since the other divisions have a more star-studded line-up. So, let’s take a look at some of the fighters that you are likely to hear about more in the coming years.

1. Giga “Ninja” Chikadze

Giga Chikadze is a well-known fighter in the featherweight division and has an impressive career record of 15 wins paired with only three losses. His recent fights include victories against the likes of Alex Caceres, Calvin Kattar and Edson Barboza, all of whom are top-rated and experienced fighters. After his debut match against Brandon Davis back in 2019, Chikadze has been on the rise in his division.

However, the fighter had faced some setbacks in the past because of a couple of losses. His health and form are crucial factors that he must overcome if he plans to make an exciting comeback in the future.

2. Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell

Bryce Mitchell is another name in the featherweight division that has slowly been working up the rankings. Currently placed at tenth, just below Giga Chikadze, Mitchell is a fighter with exceptional grappling skills. His unique fighting style makes him a tough opponent to deal with in his division.

Despite his strengths, Mitchell has endured a couple of losses in his last few matches against Josh Emmet and Ilia Topuria. Some experts say due to his weak striking skills, he has a hard time in some of his fights. Mitchell has strived to improve since his debut back in 2018 where he won the TUF 27 Finale against Tyler Diamond. If he can maintain his stride and improve, experts hope to see him as a future champion.

3. Movsar Evloev

Movsar Evloev is another well-known fighter who has climbed all the way to the top five in the division. The Russian boasts an undefeated career with 18 wins. His most recent victims include Arnold Allen, Deigo Lopes and Dan Ige, all of whom are experienced major-level fighters in the UFC. The 30-year-old has an impressive defense against takedowns and strikes. Considering that he has been a pro since 2014, even before joining the UFC, Evloev has a lot of experience himself.

Over his career, he has faced some strong adversaries. Ever since his debut fight back in 2019 was against Seung Woo Choi, Evloev has improved greatly and strengthened his arsenal. With his ability to break anyone mentally and physically, he is for sure someone to keep your eyes on.

History of the UFC Featherweight Division

The featherweight division is a relatively new part compared to the other divisions in the UFC. Currently, it is rising in popularity despite not having the same star power on their roster. However, ever since its formation after the merger with World Extreme Cagefighting back in 2010, the division and its fighters have shown a more tactical and fast-paced approach to MMA. The division has been able to form its own style and pave the path to something unique.

Since the WEC already had a strong line-up of lighter-weight fighters, UFC added them to form the new featherweight division. The seasoned fighters quickly jumped onto the UFC and evolved the organization to a new world. The fighter who started the featherweight division’s reign was the WEC Featherweight Champion, José Aldo.

Since his start in UFC, Aldo has established himself as a dominant force to be reckoned with. His strong striking, paired with his powerful kicks, allowed him to defend his title for seven matches across five years. 

However, in 2015 came the Irish beast we all know as Conor “The Notorious” McGregor. Conor burst onto the scene with his unorthodox fighting style. His arrogant behavior drew the eyes of fans all over the world.

After challenging Aldo for the title, McGregor won the match in 13 seconds. This resulted in one of the fastest finishes in UFC history. Very soon McGregor moved up to the Lightweight division and left his Featherweight title vacant in 2016.

After McGregor's exit, a Hawaiian native joined the ranks of the featherweight division and started to make a name for himself. He was Max Holloway, a fighter with incredible cardio. His ability to maintain pressure on his opponent and his skills in volume striking helped him claim the Featherweight title in 2016. Holloway continued his dominant presence by defeating Aldo in a rematch in 2017, which made him the undisputed champ in the featherweight division.

After two years of defending his title in three separate matches, Holloway was bested by former champion Alexander Volkanovski. The Australian fighter began a new era in the featherweight division. With his tactical thinking and well-rounded form, the fighter held onto the title for four years and successfully retained it several times.

During his reign, he faced off against the likes of Brain Ortega, Yair Rodriguez and Chan Sung Jung. He even had rematches against the old champion Max Holloway a few times and took on heavy hitters like Islam Makhachev.

That brings us to the present, in 2024, where just this month of February, Volkanvoski lost his championship to Ilia Topuria. This marks a major upset and the start of a new era in the featherweight division.

If we can take away anything from the history of the division, it’s that fast-paced action here never gets old. We are already expecting to see a rematch for the title against Volkanvoski. But with numerous other new fighters climbing the ranks and entering the higher leagues, the featherweight division is just getting started for an even more action-packed year.

UFC Featherweight FAQs

Who is the UFC Featherweight Champion?

Ilia Topuria is the current UFC Featherweight Champion at the time of writing. He won the title from Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 298 by KO.

What is the Weight Limit in UFC Featherweight?

The UFC Lightweight division consists of fighters between 136 and 145 lbs, or 62 and 66 kg. 

Who is the Best UFC Featherweight Fighter?

Alexander Volkanovski is the best UFC lightweight fighter. He is ranked number one in the featherweight division and is a strong fighter in the UFC. Volkanovski has a Strong record of 26-4-0, where 13 of his wins came from knockouts and three from submissions. 

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.