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)

    When Frank Mir defeated "Big Nog" at UFC 140, there wasn't a title shot on the line. Since Overeem is no longer challenging for the title, Mir will take his place (Tracy Lee/Yahoo! Sports)

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

The clear hot topic in regards to the heavyweights in April was former No. 1 contender Alistair Overeem’s surprise drug test which resulted in a 14-to-1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone level.  While testing that high is not necessarily a sign that he has taken performance-enhancing drugs, the Nevada State Athletic Commission decided that they needed to deny “The Reem’s” fighter license application, which pulled him from his UFC heavyweight title fight against champion Junior dos Santos.  The NSAC will take a look at Overeem’s application in December should he choose to submit it, but until then, we won’t see the former Strikeforce and Dream champion fighting.  Because of this, it should be interesting to see when the Dutchman starts to slip down the rankings.  Stepping in for Overeem will be former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.  According to The MMA Corner fighter rankings, Cain Velasquez ranks higher than Mir and should be given the title shot, but at the end of the day you can’t argue the fact that Mir is on a three-fight winning streak while Velasquez lost to the current champion by a quick knockout his last time out.  Also, fight fans were expecting to see Bellator heavyweight champion Cole Konrad defend his title against Eric Prindle last month, however the fight was pushed back to Bellator 70, which will take place in late May.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Surprisingly, Rashad Evans only fell one spot after losing to Jon Jones (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Dan Henderson (3)
  3. Rashad Evans (2)
  4. Mauricio Rua (4)
  5. Lyoto Machida (5)
  6. Phil Davis (7)
  7. Alexander Gustafsson (8)
  8. Muhammad Lawal (6)
  9. Ryan Bader (10)
  10. Gegard Mousasi (9)

It was business as usual for Jon Jones as he defeated Rashad Evans by unanimous decision at UFC 140 to defend his UFC light heavyweight championship.  The fight was being pegged as one of the biggest grudge matches in the history of the sport based on the background story of Evans and Jones being former teammates.  Well, that all is history now, and Jones is on his way to making some history of his own.  “Shogun” Rua, “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans at one time held the UFC light heavyweight title, and “Bones” defeated all four of them in order.  That is a feat that not many can claim that they have done, if it has ever even been done before.  But Jones already has his opponent, Dan Henderson, who conveniently enough comes in ranked at No. 2 in our rankings.  Don’t let Henderson’s age fool you, because the former simultaneous Pride middleweight and welterweight champion still packs a lot of power and isn’t afraid to use it.  Lastly, people may have expected Alexander Gustafsson to climb higher in the rankings after his fifth straight victory when he beat Thiago Silva, but the fact that he didn’t finish the job and left it in the hands of the judges is probably the reason he climbed just one spot.

Middleweight
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Chael Sonnen will get another crack at Anderson Silva in the main event at UFC 148 (MMA Weekly)

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

While last month we knew that Chael Sonnen would challenge Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight championship, we didn’t know that we would have to not only change the country that the fight was expected to take place in, but move the fight to a completely different card all together.  It was expected that the fight would take place in a soccer stadium in Rio de Janiero, however a scheduling conflict with the United Nations has pushed the fight to take place at UFC 148 in Las Vegas.  Originally, one of the big middleweight fights on that card was supposed to be No. 5 Michael Bisping vs. No. 10 Tim Boetsch, however that fight has been rumored to be moved to UFC 149 to help strengthen that card.  Also in the middleweight division, No. 6 Hector Lombard vacated the Bellator middleweight title and signed a contract with the UFC, where he is scheduled to be welcomed to the company by taking on No. 8-ranked Brian Stann.  The fight poses a very interesting battle between two fighters who like to stand in the pocket and bang.

Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    It took just 12-seconds for Johny Hendricks to knockout Jon Fitch. On Saturday, he will try to take down his former teammate, Josh Koscheck (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

This Saturday night at UFC on Fox 3, No. 4-ranked Josh Koscheck will take on No. 6 Johny Hendricks.  The fight has huge implications as far as the rankings are concerned, as the winner of the fight will have a chance at overtaking Jake Ellenberger for the No. 3 spot.  It also isn’t too much of a surprise to see that Nick Diaz has slipped a spot in the rankings, as his suspension is really starting to be noticeable, and in the world of MMA, you need to continue to fight to stay relevant.  While he continues to serve his suspension, it would not be surprising to see him continue to drop.  Canadian Rory MacDonald had a big month as he absolutely steamrolled Che Mills at UFC 145, which gave the 20-year-old his third straight victory in the UFC.  His only promotional loss came at the hands of No. 2 Carlos Condit, who also happens to be the UFC interm welterweight champion.  Condit was losing early in that fight, but came back to beat the young gun by TKO, but MacDonald appears to have come back stronger.  It will be interesting to see who he gets matched up with for his next fight.

Lightweight
  1. Ben Henderson (1)

    Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will take on Akihiro Gono in a non-title fight this Friday night (Jeff Cain/MMA Weekly)

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

If you quickly look at the lightweight rankings, the biggest thing that jumps out at you is that Nate Diaz dropped two positions while Clay Guida gained two without either one of them even fighting.  While that is a little strange, Diaz has a great opportunity to make up for the lost positioning when he takes on Jim Miller on Saturday night at UFC on Fox 3.  While nothing has officially been said one way or another, Diaz and Miller each have a great opportunity to make a statement by winning big, which will shoot them up the rankings and possibly put them directly in the hunt for the next crack at the title.  Last month, we had mentioned how Anthony Pettis currently does not have an opponent, and the winner of this fight would be perfect for “Showtime.”  Also in April, Bellator held a rematch between Eddie Alvarez and Shinya Aoki.  The fight saw Alvarez come out on top with a first-round TKO victory, and with the win, “The Silent Assassin” knocked Aoki out of the rankings and inserted himself.

Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Erik Koch may hold the No. 9 ranking of all featherweights, but as far as the UFC is concerned, he is the No. 1 contender (Scott Peterson/MMA Weekly)

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

According to sources, No. 2 Hatsu Hioki was offered a shot at UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, but opted to take one more fight before taking his chance at the title.  The move comes as a head scratcher for a lot of people as every fighter wants their chance at gold.  It could be that Hioki is still getting comfortable fighting inside a cage, or that he wasn’t overly impressed with his own performances against George Roop and Bart Palaszewski, but one way or another, he will take on Ricardo Lamas at UFC on FX 4.  Instead, Aldo will take on No. 9 Erik Koch for the featherweight title at UFC 149.  When you look down the rankings, Koch feels like the next best thing because Pat Curran, Marlon Sandro and Tatsuya Kawajiri are with other promotions, and Hioki, Dustin Poirier and “The Korean Zombie” are already booked.  Chad Mendes looked good against the champion in the first round of their fight, but did not do enough to earn a rematch for the title.  Whether or not you agree or disagree with Koch fighting for the title, he is the next in line for it.

Bantamweight
  1. Dominick Cruz (1)

    Eduardo Dantas knocked Zach Makovsky out of the rankings, inserted himself in them, and took the Bellator bantamweight championship with one win (Bellator)

  2. Urijah Faber (2)
  3. Renan Barao (3)
  4. Scott Jorgensen (5)
  5. Brian Bowles (4)
  6. Bibiano Fernandes (6)
  7. Michael McDonald (8)
  8. Eduardo Dantas (-)
  9. Brad Pickett (-)
  10. Miguel Torres (7)

From watching The Ultimate Fighter: Live, we have learned that UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and No. 1 contender Urijah Faber are not necessarily the best trash talkers in the world, but regardless the two are set to take on one another at UFC 148 in Las Vegas.  While the fight is no longer the main event with Sonnen vs. Silva II being moved to the card, fans are still in for a great fight as the two battle for the title in a rare trilogy fight.  We also saw No. 7 Michael McDonald defeat No. 10 Miguel Torres along with No. 8 Eduardo Dantas defeat formerly ranked Zach Makovsky for the Bellator bantamweight championship last month.  Despite the loss, Torres managed to cling onto the rankings at No. 10, while Makovsky’s claws weren’t long enough.  But “Fun Size” wasn’t the only Bellator fighter to drop out of the rankings, as Masakatsu Ueda fell out after being previously ranked at No. 9.  The holes were quickly filled by new Bellator champion Eduardo Dantas and UFC fighter Brad Pickett after his Fight of the Night performance at UFC on Fuel TV 2.

Flyweight
  1. Joseph Benavidez (1)
  2. Ian McCall (2)
  3. Demetrious Johnson (3)
  4. Jussier da Silva (4)
  5. Yasuhiro Urushitani (5)
  6. Mamoru Yamaguchi (6)
  7. Darrell Montague (7)
  8. John Dodson (8)
  9. Ulysses Gomez (9)
  10. Dustin Ortiz (-)

While March saw a big spark in the flyweight division with the start of the UFC flyweight tournament, not a whole lot came out of the 125-ers in April.  But we did learn that the rematch between Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson will take place in June.  However, four of the ranked fighters will be in action in May.  Darrel Montague and Ulysses Gomez will be fighting at the Tachi Palace event, but not against one another.  John Dodson will fight against Tim Elliot at UFC on Fox 3 on Saturday, and newcomer Dustin Ortiz will fight in regional action as well.  With the four fighters at the bottom in action, expect a major shakeup in the flyweight division in the next edition of the rankings.

Pound-For-Pound
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Benavidez may only weigh 125-pounds, but the man waiting for the winner in the semi-finals of the UFC flyweight tournament is in the pound-for-pound rankings (MMA Junkie)

  2. Jon Jones (2)
  3. Georges St-Pierre (3)
  4. Jose Aldo (4)
  5. Junior dos Santos (5)
  6. Dominick Cruz (6)
  7. Gilbert Melendez (7)
  8. Ben Henderson (8)
  9. Dan Henderson (9)
  10. Joseph Benavidez (-)

It was another simple month in the pound-for-pound rankings.  Sure, Jon Jones handled Rashad Evans rather easily, but it is going to be extremely difficult to take the crown over Anderson Silva.  Had Jones scored a big knockout or submission victory, then it would have been more likely that he could have taken the No. 1 spot, but it probably still wouldn’t have happened.  At this point, that ranking belongs to the UFC middleweight champion until he loses or retires.  The only fighter to drop out of the pound-for-pound rankings was heavyweight Alistair Overeem, but based on the fact that he is going to be on the shelf until December, it was only a matter of time for him to lose out.  Interestingly enough, a fighter from the heaviest weight class drops out and a fighter from the lightest weight class steps in.  It would take two Joseph Benavidez’s with some rolls of coins in their pockets to weigh as much as Overeem, but that is the beauty of the pound-for-pound rankings, as weight doesn’t come into play.

Top Photo: Jon Jones strikes a fallen Rashad Evans at UFC 145 (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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.