The UFC Featherweight Championship was only introduced in 2010. It's pretty crazy to think about it because, in modern UFC, the Featherweight division is one of the most prestigious and stacked, if not the most.
It's been filled with some of the greatest talents in the company, and the 145-ers proved to have a diverse range of fighters - whether it's power, speed, technique or all put together, even.
The Featherweight division was also where Conor McGregor began his meteoric rise to the top, but he was only one piece in a bigger playboard. As of the end of 2018, there have only been three Featherweight Champions in UFC history.
Not only does this speak volumes of the division itself and the talent in it, but there's one man who can be credited for a large chunk of that - Jose Aldo Jr. Despite his title reign ending in a 13-second knockout, one mustn't forget that he defended the belt with honour and resilience for a good 5 years. He faced a murderers' row and passed with flying colours. He'll be featured a bit on this list, as we look at the greatest 145-pound fights ever in MMA history!
#5 Jose Aldo (c) vs Mark Hominick - UFC 129
Aldo was the WEC Featherweight Champion at the time of UFC's purchase, meaning that he was handed the first-ever UFC Featherweight Championship. He would defend it first against Mark Hominick at UFC 129 in front of 55,000 people in Toronto, Canada.
It should have been a feel-good moment for Hominick, who was expecting his first child and also performing in his home province of Ontario for the first time.
He put on a great effort, but at the end, Aldo proved too much, outperforming him to a comfortable decision victory. There was no feel-good moment for Hominick, unfortunately.
#4 Conor McGregor vs Chad Mendes - UFC 189
This is the first time in the series of "best championship fights" that we feature a bout for the interim title. UFC 189 was supposed to be McGregor challenging Jose Aldo, but Aldo had to pull out due to a reported rib injury.
With 11 days notice, Chad Mendes replaced him and the bout was turned into an interim title fight. McGregor looked touchy in his first round with Mendes, but the second round was a completely different story. McGregor's famous precision and crisp, clean striking came into play, as he would knock Mendes out in the second round with just three seconds to spare!
McGregor would beat Aldo for the main title five months later.
#3 Max Holloway (c) vs Jose Aldo - UFC 218
Max Holloway was the interim Featherweight Champion by the time 2016 had come to a close. With McGregor getting stripped as Featherweight champ, Aldo was promoted to undisputed champion again.
The inevitable clash happened at UFC 212, and in an epic bout, Holloway dethroned Aldo in a passing of the torch moment. While Holloway was originally scheduled to face Frankie Edgar, the latter had to pull out.
Aldo, who was preparing for a bout with Ricardo Lamas around the same time had taken his spot, with a chance to reclaim his throne. This too would go on only till the 3rd round, where Holloway baited Aldo into a slugfest, winning the exchanges and once again defeating Aldo. He cemented his place as the new Featherweight King and seemingly had Aldo's blessing and respect as well.
#2 Max Holloway (c) vs Brian Ortega - UFC 231
Brian Ortega was undefeated ahead of his title fight against reigning champion Max Holloway. After their fight for UFC 226 was cancelled, it finally took place in November 2018. Ortega was poised to be Holloway's biggest threat, and he did put on a great effort for the most part.
However, what's really staggering was that Max Holloway outclassed him in every aspect, proving to be a level above the rest. It would go on for an incredible four rounds, in one of the best fights of 2018. The doctor would end up stopping the fight at the end of the 4th round, giving Holloway his second successful title defence and Ortega his first career defeat.
#1 Jose Aldo (c) vs Chad Mendes - UFC 179
If you want to take a look at prime Jose Aldo and what he was like, his second fight against Chad Mendes is the one to watch. They faced before at UFC 142, where Aldo put Mendes out within a round.
Their second bout, however, was a much different affair. That night in Rio de Janeiro, Aldo and Mendes went the distance in the toughest test Aldo ever had as Featherweight champion up to that point.
While in hindsight, Aldo's unanimous decision victory was fair, it felt much closer than that at the time. Mendes took Aldo to his very limit.
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