The twelve UFC champions have each done their fair share to end up with the belt around their waist, but who boasts the finest body of work?
With twelve UFC champions currently in control of the belts, ranking them based on their respective resumés is a good way to establish a new pound-for-pound ranking, of sorts, one that focuses more on a fighter’s body of work – rather than recent form.
Wins and losses on paper will be the main criteria but also, the methods of victory (KO, submission, etc.) and the timing of each win/loss will also be considered.
#12 – Nicco Montano – (5-2)
Notable wins: Roxanne Modafferi
Notable losses: –
Of course, the newly-crowned UFC flyweight champion comes in at twelfth place. It’s not exactly Montano’s fault that her accomplishments pale in comparison to the others mentioned on this list, but still, to place her any higher than here on the back of who she has fought would be ridiculous.
#11 – Rose Namajunas – (7-3)
Notable wins: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Michelle Waterson, Paige VanZant
Notable losses: Tecia Torres, Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Carla Esparza
Namajunas’ UFC 217 knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk was a win she will be hard-pressed to replicate in 2018 – given the shock it caused the world of MMA but despite this, losses to the trio mentioned above prove that Rose is still very much a work-in-progress, or at least she was until her ‘upset of the year’ contender against the aforementioned Jedrzejczyk.
#10 – Robert Whittaker – (19-4)
Notable wins: Yoel Romero, Ronaldo Souza, Derek Brunson
Notable losses: Stephen Thompson
It’s crazy how a fighter who managed to finish both ‘Jacare’ Souza and Derek Brunson in the last 14 months ranks so low on this list, but despite his amazing form of late, he still has some work to do to raise his stock amongst the UFC’s belt-holders. His brutal first-round KO loss at 170lbs to Stephen Thompson – though definitely a turning point in his career – is still quite hard to erase from memory but look to ‘Bobby Knuckles’ as someone who is on course for a fantastic 2018.
#9 – Cristiane Justino – (19-1-1)
Notable wins: Holly Holm, Gina Carano
Notable losses: –
Unbeaten in over a decade but now in a position where both willing and worthy foes are lacking, it’s not exactly Cyborg’s fault that she doesn’t rank higher here but when you consider the level (and size) of the competition she made her name off by defeating, it’s clear that a spot any further up this list is just something that the Brazilian is not yet deserving of.
#8 – Amanda Nunes – (15-4)
Notable wins: Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Germaine de Randamie, Valentina Shevchenko x2
Notable losses: Cat Zingano, Alexis Davis
Amanda Nunes has put together a pretty outstanding run in recent times. Yes, she was the one responsible for beating down a strangely unresponsive Ronda Rousey but even that win aside, her victories over the former champs Miesha Tate and Germaine de Randamie are pretty impressive, especially when you couple them with her duo of wins over the supremely talented Valentina Shevchenko. Cat Zingano managed to finish her late in their 2014 meeting, but Nunes has been in brutally brilliant form ever since and with a fight against Cyborg supposedly in the works, she has the chance to solidify her status.
#7 – TJ Dillashaw – (15-3)
Notable wins: Cody Garbrandt, John Lineker, Raphael Assuncao, Renan Barao x2
Notable losses: Dominick Cruz, John Dodson, Raphael Assuncao
TJ Dillashaw may well be the best fighter on the planet when he’s on. A controversial opinion indeed, but the guy who smoked Renan Barao twice, rallied to beat Cody Garbrandt senseless and completely outclassed the very dangerous John Lineker could beat anyone on his day. His day – unfortunately – passed him by when he was outmaneuvered by Dominick Cruz in early 2016 and unfortunately, losing your UFC debut by way of knockout to a 5-foot-2 flyweight in John Dodson is a loss that TJ will not be so quick to shrug off, something that keeps him just shy of the top-6.
#6 – Stipe Miocic – (17-2)
Notable wins: Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt
Notable losses: Stefan Struve, Junior dos Santos
Stipe Miocic has quietly gone on one of the most brutal knockout sprees of the modern era, taking out a who’s who of MMA legends – who could well be past their sell-by date, yes – but still, the fact that he’s consistently getting finishes is a good sign for his placing on this list. It’s been over five years since he was finished by Stefan Struve and though he dropped a decision to Junior dos Santos in 2014, the fact that it was such a closely contested fight – coupled with the fact that he avenged that loss in vicious fashion – is enough to excuse that misstep.
#5 – Tyron Woodley – (18-3-1)
Notable wins: Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Carlos Condit, Kelvin Gastelum, Robbie Lawler
Notable losses: Rory MacDonald, Nate Marquardt, Jake Shields
Love him or hate him, to say Tyron Woodley hasn’t found his feet in the UFC is just plain silly. For a guy who was once 3-3 in his last six fights after losing out to Rory MacDonald, Woodley’s resurgence has been nothing short of phenomenal. He might not be your favourite fighter, but beating the best striker in the UFC in Stephen Thompson and the most-decorated grappler in Demian Maia puts ‘the Chosen One’ in a category of his own. He could well be amongst the most intelligent fighters in the UFC, in-octagon, and with a potentially huge 2018 on the cards, expect Woodley to earn himself a legion of new fans this year.
#4 – Max Holloway – (21-3)
Notable wins: José Aldo x2, Anthony Pettis, Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens
Notable losses: Conor McGregor, Dennis Bermudez, Dustin Poirier
Holloway’s run towards winning the featherweight title has been one that has seen him win fights in pretty much every manner possible. He was so young and untested when he picked up the trio of losses mentioned above that it’s almost unfair to bring them up and honestly, he would outrank Conor McGregor on this list if it weren’t for the Irishman’s ridiculous finishing rate, something Max has improved on with his victories over the legendary José Aldo, but still cannot touch.
#3 – Conor McGregor – (21-3)
Notable wins: José Aldo, Chad Mendes, Nate Diaz, Dustin Poirier, Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez
Notable losses: Nate Diaz
McGregor comes in at third here for one simple reason. Knockouts. This guy has managed to KO every fighter he has faced in the UFC apart from Nate Diaz and Max Holloway and with a knack for getting the job done early, Conor’s resumé is about as brutal as any knockout artist we have seen in some time. Title-defenses are, of course, not accounted for in this list and when you look at the finishing rate of the lightweight champion, his spot in the top-3 is undeniable.
#2 – Demetrious Johnson – (27-2-1)
Notable wins: Ray Borg, Henry Cejudo, John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez, Kyoji Horiguchi, Ian McCall
Notable losses: Dominick Cruz, Brad Pickett
The world’s pound-for-pound number 1 fighter, at second on this list? Sure, Demetrious Johnson is probably the most skilled fighter around today – and quite possibly ever – but despite the underrated strength of the UFC’s flyweight division, the caliber of opponents he has beaten just doesn’t match up to the leader of this list. 125lbs gets a lot of hate from the fans but really, the gap is a testament to the sheer brilliance of its champion instead of the weakness of the division’s contenders.
#1 – Daniel Cormier – (19-1)
Notable wins: Anthony Johnson x2, Anderson Silva, Alexander Gustafsson, Dan Henderson, Antonio Silva, Frank Mir, Josh Barnett
Notable losses: Jon Jones
Unbeaten at heavyweight, the former Strikeforce grand-prix winner and with just a loss (or two) to Jon Jones holding him back from perfection, it’s easy to see why Daniel Cormier tops this list. He beat some of the world’s best in two weight-classes in their prime and has put together a run that has seen him blast through everyone bar the one man who will haunt him for the rest of his days. One would hope that a third fight between DC and Jon Jones would happen but still, as far as resumés go, that one defeat is not enough to see anyone else top this list.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena