With Jon Jones off duty and Chris Weidman and Daniel Cormier staking their claim with wins at the weekend, who is the Pound For Pound best in the UFC?
UFC pound for pound rankings as at Monday, May 25, 2015:
1. Jose Aldo (Featherweight champ, UFC record: 7-0, undefeated for 9 1/5 years)
2. Demetrious Johnson (Flyweight champ, six title defences)
3. Chris Weidman (Middleweight champ, undefeated at 13-0)
4. Cain Velasquez (Heavyweight champ, 13-1)
5. Ronda Rousey (Women’s Bantamweight champ, 11-0)
6. TJ Dillashaw (Bantamweight champ, 12-2)
7. Rafael dos Anjos (Lightweight champ, 24-7)
8. Robbie Lawler (Welterweight champ, 25-10, 1NC)
9. Daniel Cormier (Light heavyweight champ, 15-1)
10. Anderson Silva (G.O.A.T contender, former middleweight champ)
11. Anthony Pettis (Former lightweight champ, 18-3, former WEC lightweight champ)
12. Renan Barao (Former Bantamweight champ, 35-2, 1NC)
13. Frankie Edgar (Former lightweight champ, 18-4-1)
14. Fabricio Werdum (Interim heavyweight champ, 19-5-1)
15. Johny Hendricks (Former welterweight champ, 17-3)
For the purposes of determining the top dog, we’ll focus on the top ten contenders:
Ranked 6-8. Robbie Lawler, Rafael dos Anjos, TJ Dillashaw
Champions of their respective weight classes, this trio were recently installed at the top of their divisions. But despite some very impressive triumphs in claiming their gold (particularly from Dos Anjos, whom dethroned Anthony Pettis in monstrous fashion), it’s too early for these men to really be factored into the discussion.
5. Ronda Rousey
Depending on the results of some of the main title bouts remaining this year, the Olympic bronze medallist may well find herself top of the pile come 2016. It’s a meteoric rise both for the judoka herself and the women’s roster, as it wasn’t so long ago that UFC Dana White dismissed the notion of women competing in his organisation out of hand. Although facing what many feel is both a smaller and inferior talent pool, Rousey’s destruction of the 135lb. women’s division has sent her into mainstream prominence – starring in The Expendables 3 and appearing at Wrestlemania 31.
She would most likely require a victory in the much vaunted ‘Cyborg’ Santos match-up to have a realistic chance of top billing, though.
4. Cain Velasquez
A career of genuine promise and potential appears to have been derailed by injury. It’s a blight made all the more unfortunate by the fact that the heavyweight division has often missed out on a chance to match the fabled heavyweight boxing division of yester-decade. Velasquez has not been in the Octagon since October 2013, and while a fully fit, in form Cain would be a front-runner for the crown, his chance has fallen by the wayside.
Despite his long lay-off, the UFC still rank Cain at fourth in the list – a testament to the high regard he is held in by those in the know. Also, he finally makes his comeback in a few weeks time against interim Champion Fabricio Werdum, so Cain will have an opportunity for make up for lost time.
3. Chris Weidman
Beating an all-time great in Anderson Silva twice is more than enough to be considered a pound for pound contender. With just 13 fights (and indeed 13 wins) under his belt, it almost feels too soon to coronate him as King. Defeating the best that Brazil has to offer in Belfort, Machida and Silva, and beating noted grapplers and submission specialists such as Mark Munoz and Demian Maia though, suggest that the All-American will likely feature at the top of this list for years to come, sooner rather than later.
2. Demetrious Johnson
Despite his praiseworthy title defenses and utter dominance of most opponents, Johnson doesn’t receive either the recognition or attention that his accomplishments deserve. The smaller flyweight division that he operates in has courted mixed responses, with a sizable section of fans not buying pay-per-views headlined by ‘Mighty Mouse’, and leaving those main events while the fights are ongoing. This perception affects Johnson’s chances of claiming the top spot, as one is only as good as the opponents he or she faces. His second placing means that the UFC are partial to giving Johnson the top ranking themselves, but in the eyes of the fans?
1. Jose Aldo
The Brazilian was installed as the de facto pound for pound kingpin upon the arrest of Jon Jones. Undefeated for almost ten years, Aldo is undoubtedly the best active pound for pound fighter at the moment. Some would even justifiably argue that he would deserve the place ahead of Jones, due to his prolonged dominance among different organisations. A win in the much anticipated bout against Conor McGregor in July would solidify and legitimise his lofty status.
9. Daniel Cormier
This writer chose to discuss Cormier last, as he was the man who claimed the light heavyweight belt that Jon ‘Bones’ Jones was stripped of. Both men met in January, and Jones got the decision win – outstriking DC almost 2:1 in significant strikes and stuffing seven out of eight takedowns in what was a sound victory. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson was slated to face Jones, but the latter’s troubles left a second title opportunity available for Cormier, which he duly took by submitting Johnson. It would be inaccurate and harsh to call him a Champion in name only, but the top dog at light heavyweight? Not as long as the next guy remains conclusively unbeaten.
P4P. Jon Jones
If only Jon could get his head together.
Just 23 years old when he defeated Shogun Rua, Jones became the UFC’s youngest-ever world champion, and had successfully defended the light heavyweight title in a division-record eight consecutive fights. His only loss in 22 fights came by way of disqualification. He was suspended indefinitely and stripped of the Title due to a hit-and-run incident. Prior to this, he was the undisputed pound for pound supremo, especially with the absences of Georges-St-Pierre and Anderson Silva. He was officially dumped from the pound for pound list, but as long as an undefeated (by another fighter’s hands) Jones walks the earth, there’s only one man atop the MMA pile.