With MMA promotions putting on fight cards more frequently than ever, fighters are constantly jockeying for position on the ladder of title contention and in the eyes (and rankings) of the fans and media.  Every month, The MMA Corner’s Brian McKenna will compile the staff’s individual rankings from heavyweight to  flyweight, plus pound-for-pound, into The MMA Corner’s Fighter Rankings.

 

The number in parentheses represents the fighter’s ranking from last month.

Heavyweight

 

  1. Junior dos Santos (1)

    Is Shane Carwin ranked too high? (Sherdog)

  2. Alistair Overeem (2)
  3. Josh Barnett (4)
  4. Cain Velasquez (3)
  5. Frank Mir (5)
  6. Daniel Cormier (6)
  7. Shane Carwin (7)
  8. Fabricio Werdum (8)
  9. Antonio Silva  (9)
  10. Mark Hunt (-)

It wasn’t exactly the most exciting month on the planet as far as the heavyweights were concerned.  The biggest change was Roy Nelson dropping out of the top 10 after losing to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 143.   Nelson dropping out of the rankings isn’t exactly shocking, but Werdum not moving up a spot or two and remaining behind Shane Carwin in the rankings might surprise most.  Carwin has dropped two straight and hasn’t fought since June, but he remains ahead of Werdum, who won last month.  Also, many would have argued that Cheick Kongo would have cracked into the rankings with a victory over Mark Hunt, but the “Super Samoan” decided he had other plans.  The victory gave the former Pride star his third consecutive win, and it was good enough to earn him a spot in the rankings.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)
  2. Dan Henderson (2)
  3. Rashad Evans (3)
  4. Mauricio Rua (4)
  5. Lyoto Machida (5)
  6. Muhammed Lawal (6)
  7. Phil Davis (8)
  8. Gegard Mousasi (9)
  9. Alexander Gustafsson (10)
  10. Rafael Cavalcante (-)

Last month, the UFC announced that light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would defend his title against Rashad Evans at UFC 145 in April.  While this match-up has been a long time in the making, it appears as though the writers at The MMA Corner think that Dan Henderson deserves the title shot more than the former champion.  The reason behind this could be that Henderson’s most recent victory was over “Shogun” Rua, who is ranked higher than “Suga’s” latest victim, Phil Davis.  Also, with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson losing to Ryan Bader at UFC 144, he fell out of the rankings, allowing former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante to crack the top 10.

Middleweight
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    A former UFC middleweight contender, Nate Marquardt may now have his eyes on No. 7's Strikeforce middleweight title (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Chael Sonnen (2)
  3. Mark Munoz (3)
  4. Vitor Belfort (4)
  5. Hector Lombard (5)
  6. Michael Bisping (6)
  7. Luke Rockhold (8)
  8. Ronaldo Souza (-)
  9. Nate Marquardt (9)
  10. Brian Stann (-)

While no location or date has officially been announced for the fight, it is speculated that UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will indeed defend his title against Chael Sonnen sometime this summer in Brazil.  Also making headlines in the middleweight division is No. 9-ranked Nate Marquardt, who has recently signed back with Zuffa to fight under the Strikeforce banner.  Considering that Strikeforce is relatively thin with talent, it would not be shocking to see a fight announced between champion Luke Rockhold and Marquardt.  After all, this is the same promotion that brought in Keith Jardine to fight for the title recently.

[box_dark]Welterweight[/divider]

  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    Will Condit take on No. 1-ranked St-Pierre or No. 3-ranked Ellenberger in his next fight? (MMA Junkie)

  2. Carlos Condit (3)
  3. Jake Ellenberger (4)
  4. Josh Koscheck (5)
  5. Johny Hendricks (7)
  6. Nick Diaz (2)
  7. Jon Fitch (6)
  8. Jake Shields (8)
  9. Ben Askren (9)
  10. Martin Kampmann (10)

Even though GSP is the king of the 170-pound division, it is still unclear when he will return to action.  While the title unification fight between St-Pierre and Condit lays on the horizon, there is speculation that “The Natural Born Killer” may have to defend his interim title sometime before he would get a chance at the champ.  With his victory over Diego Sanchez at UFC on Fuel TV 1 giving him six straight victories with his only loss coming by split decision to Condit in his promotional debut, Jake Ellenberger rematching Condit might be the fight that the fans really want to see.  The future of these decisions rests on just how healed the No. 1-ranked welterweight is, however.

[box_dark]Lightweight[/divider]

  1. Ben Henderson (3)

    By defeating "The Answer" at UFC 144, Henderson leapfroged both Edgar and Melendez (Tracy Lee/Yahoo! Sports)

  2. Gilbert Melendez (2)
  3. Frankie Edgar (1)
  4. Jim Miller (5)
  5. Gray Maynard (4)
  6. Shinya Aoki (6)
  7. Clay Guida (7)
  8. Anthony Pettis (8)
  9. Michael Chandler (10)
  10. Nate Diaz (9)

There is a new champion in the UFC lightweight division and he is the new No. 1-ranked fighter here at The MMA Corner: Ben Henderson.  “Smooth” took a unanimous decision victory against now No. 3-ranked Frankie Edgar in a tough fight last month in Japan and took the top spot along with it.  Interestingly enough, they switched their ranking with one another after the fight, while Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez remains in limbo in the second-place slot.  There is no other 155-pound fighter in the top 10 to contend for Melendez’s title, which is a poor reason for him to remain in Strikeforce.  Also, despite a Knockout of the Night performance against Joe Lauzon at UFC 144, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis remains ranked behind Clay Guida.  “The Carpenter” took a unanimous decision from Pettis last year, leaving Guida, Pettis and the new champion Henderson in an interesting triangle.

Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Hatsu Hioki is expected to be next for Jose Aldo (Dave Pishnu/MMAWeekly)

  2. Hatsu Hioki (3)
  3. Chad Mendes (2)
  4. Pat Curran (4)
  5. Diego Nunes (5)
  6. Tatsuya Kawajiri (7)
  7. Dustin Poirier (8)
  8. Marlon Sandro (6)
  9. Chan Sung Jung (10)
  10. Joe Warren (9)

When Hatsu Hioki was brought to the UFC, it was suspected that he would be the guy to take down featherweight champion Jose Aldo.  While his debut with the promotion was less than spectacular, he looked outstanding defeating Bart Palaszewski by unanimous decision at UFC 144.  With the victory, it is expected that he will indeed get his shot at UFC gold in his third fight with the promotion.  On a different wavelength, both Bellator fighters, Joe Warren and Marlon Sandro, dropped down for what appears to be no reason at all.  Well, in the world of sports, people tend to have a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality.  While it is not their fault that Bellator has been off since the conclusion of its fifth season, the lack of exposure may have been the reason for their fall.  With Bellator returning on March 9, it should be interesting to see how the fighters of the promotion emerge across the rankings.

Bantamweight
  1. Dominick Cruz (1)

    No. 7 Torres will take on No. 9 McDonald at UFC 145 (Ken Pishna/MMAWeekly)

  2. Urijah Faber (2)
  3. Renan Barao (3)
  4. Brian Bowles (5)
  5. Scott Jorgensen (4)
  6. Bibiano Fernandes (6)
  7. Miguel Torres (7)
  8. Masakatsu Ueda (8)
  9. Michael McDonald (9)
  10. Zach Makovsky (10)

As far as the bantamweight division is concerned, it has had better months.  Renan Barao solidified his No. 3 ranking by handling Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143.  While normally one would expect “Young Guns” to drop lower in the rankings, the rest of the division didn’t exactly have a ton of activity.  Bowles, Fernandes, Ueda and Makovsky have been idle for quite sometime now.  A matchup between No. 7 Miguel Torres and No. 9 Michael McDonald at UFC 145 won’t really shake up the division a lot, but a victory will solidify their spot in the top 10.

Flyweight
  1. Joseph Benavidez (1)

    Joseph Benavidez is the favorite to win the UFC flyweight tournament (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Demetrious Johnson (2)
  3. Ian McCall (3)
  4. Jussier da Silva (5)
  5. Yasuhiro Urushitani (4)
  6. Mamoru Yamaguchi (7)
  7. Darrell Montague (6)
  8. Ulysses Gomez (7)
  9. John Dodson (10)
  10. Shinichi Kojima (9)

This is the month that flyweights around the world have been anticipating for quite some time now.  While the flyweight division had been hinted toward by UFC president Dana White a while back, it was still big news when it was announced a couple of months ago that the division would become a reality inside the Octagon.  On Friday, history will be made when four 125-pounders step inside the Octagon for the first two fights to take place in the division under the UFC banner.  The two bouts pit Ian McCall against Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez against Yasuhiro Urushitani.  The winners of their respective fights will meet up at a later date to battle for the UFC flyweight title.  Also, interestingly enough, TUF 14 bantamweight champion and No. 9-ranked John Dodson will return to flyweight at UFC on Fox 3 when he takes on Darren Uyenoyama, who will cut to 125-pounds for the first time in his career.

Pound For Pound
  1. Anderson Silva (1)
  2. Jon Jones (2)
  3. Georges St-Pierre (3)
  4. Jose Aldo (4)
  5. Junior dos Santos (7)
  6. Dominick Cruz (6)
  7. Gilbert Melendez (8)
  8. Dan Henderson (9)
  9. Ben Henderson (-)
  10. Alistair Overeem (-)

Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar fell out of the pound-for-pound ranking after sitting at No. 5 last month.  While the fight went to decision, it is a dog-eat-dog world out there in terms of pound-for-pound rankings.  It goes to show you how crucial it is to stay victorious in order to stay relevant here.  Ben Henderson snuck up the rankings and into the No. 9 spot with his victory over Edgar, and, according to “Smooth,”  he plans on holding his title belt longer than Anderson Silva.  While that is his intention, he would fall out of the top 10 with a loss in his next fight, while Silva would likely drop, just not outside of the top 10.  In the realm of MMA, it is Anderson Silva’s world and we’re all just living in it.  It’s good to be the king.

Top Photo: Ben Henderson not only took the gold at UFC 144, but his No. 1 lightweight ranking according to The MMA Corner (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.