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)

    Velasquez jumped two spots after he dominated Antonio Silva at UFC 146. Is he next in line for the title? (Tracy Lee/Yahoo! Sports)

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

May was by far the biggest month for the heavyweight division that the sport has seen in a long time.  UFC 146 featured five heavyweight main card fights, Strikeforce finished its Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, and Bellator held its second ever heavyweight championship fight.  When the dust settled, we saw a major shakeup in the rankings with one key exception: UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos remains the king.  Not only did he successfully defend his title against Frank Mir, but he did so in a dominating fashion while he kept the fight standing to avoid the feared ground game of the jiu-jitsu ace.  “Cigano” was not the only star of the division, as Daniel Cormier put in five impressive rounds against Josh Barnett to win the Grand Prix.  As the tournament progressed, “DC” has risen up the rankings and is now as high as No. 4, but now the AKA fighter finds himself in a bit of a Strikeforce purgatory that lightweight Gilbert Melendez has found himself in for a while.  Many are saying that they would like to see him fight for the UFC title next, but according to reports he has a contractual obligation to at least one more fight with Strikeforce.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Rafael Cavalcante went from unranked to No. 8 in just 33 seconds (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

The biggest news that came out of the light heavyweight division during the month of May is the guilty plea of driving while intoxicated by UFC champion Jon Jones.  Jones has been an absolute force in his time as a professional fighter, and may have let some of that stardom go to his head as a result.  While more details continue to come out as a result of Jones crashing his car into a telephone pole earlier this month, the UFC has maintained his status as the promotion’s champion along with maintaining that he will indeed defend his title against Dan Henderson in September. Former Strikeforce champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante gained revenge against Mike Kyle when he defeated him in under a minute, which has landed him back in the rankings.  But overall, it was a rather quiet month for the 205-pounders.

Middleweight
  1. Anderson Silva (1)
  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. Alan Belcher (-)
  10. Chris Weidman (-)

For fighters in the middleweight division ranked between No. 1 and No. 8, we see no changes.  With that being said, No. 4 Vitor Belfort suffered a broken hand while training for his fight against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147 which unfortunately has removed him from the card.  On the happier side of things, Alan Belcher makes his inaugural appearance in the rankings after he took down Rousimar Palhares at UFC on Fox 3.  Belcher danced with the devil as he went to the ground with the leg lock specialist and came away with a TKO victory.  It was also discovered that Strikeforce champion and No. 7 ranked Luke Rockhold would defend his championship against Tim Kennedy in July.  Not a lot of people are sold on Rockhold yet, and this fight could be the one that he needs to legitimize himself in the eyes of said people.

Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    A big victory for Hendricks has put him in direct title contention (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

The big welterweight fight during the month of May was between Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck at UFC on Fox 3.  To that point in their careers, “Kos” had a better resume and claimed that he would walk right through Hendricks; however, a split decision victory by “Big Rig” was all of the talking that Hendricks needed in order to catapult him to No. 4.  As it shouldn’t, the loss didn’t cause Koscheck to tumble down the rankings; however, he clearly felt the impact from the loss.  With that being the key fight at 170 pounds last month, tonight’s big fight between Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann looks to be the key fight for June.  A loss for “The Hitman” would likely drop him out of the top ten, while a loss for Ellenberger would take him out of the No. 3 ranking and any title consideration behind it.

Lightweight
  1. Ben Henderson (1)

    "El Nino" needs to win more convincingly in order to take the top spot (Esther Lin/Showtime)

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

Any chance that Gilbert Melendez had at overtaking Ben Henderson for the top spot in the lightweight rankings has gone away, at least for the short term.  The Strikeforce champion successfully defended his title against Josh Thomson in May; however, there were two key factors as to why he didn’t move up.  First, Thomson is not ranked anywhere near the top ten, and second, it was a split decision victory.  Had “El Nino” came out and earned a first-round knockout or stoppage, he may have been considered for the top spot.  But it was another Cesar Gracie fighter who earned an impressive submission victory and launched himself up the rankings when Nate Diaz forced the tap from Jim Miller.  UFC president Dana White said that Diaz will be next in line for the title, and that line is starting to get long with Edgar already set for a rematch.  Later this month, Clay Guida will take on Gray Maynard, and it could be argued that the winner of that fight should have his chance at the gold, but we will have to wait and see how that plays out.

Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Straus is not only $100,000 richer, but he now has a guaranteed title shot (Bellator)

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

The main event fight at UFC on Fuel TV 3 between Chan Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier had the makings for a “Fight of the Night” performance, but the end result can be argued as currently the fight of the year.  Both fighters displayed great skills along with great heart, as “The Korean Zombie” took the fourth-round submission victory and won his third straight fight along the way.  “The Diamond” was likely going to have his crack at UFC gold with a victory, but the loss will cause him to get back towards the end of the line and work his way back up to the top.  Bellator season-six tournament winner Daniel Straus breaches his way into the top ten for the first time after his victory against Marlon Sandro.  Many expected Sandro to roll over Straus, but the Brazilian looked uncomfortable all fight and lost the unanimous decision, which leaves him in the top ten but only hanging on by a thread.

Bantamweight
  1. Dominick Cruz (1)
  2. Urijah Faber (2)
  3. Renan Barao (3)
  4. Brian Bowles (5)
  5. Scott Jorgensen (4)
  6. Bibiano Fernandes (6)
  7. Michael McDonald (7)
  8. Eduardo Dantas (8)
  9. Brad Pickett (9)
  10. Masakatsu Ueda (-)

The scheduled UFC championship fight between Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber at UFC 148 was called off earlier this month when it was revealed that Cruz tore his ACL.  The No. 1 ranked bantamweight will be on the shelf for quite some time and as a result, an interim championship is being created by the UFC.  Faber will now take on No. 3-ranked Renan Barao for the interim gold, which is the right match-up according to our rankings.  The question now is whether or not “The Dominator” will start to slip down the rankings due to the inactivity.

Flyweight
  1. Joseph Benavidez (1)

    Gaudinot earned his way into the top ten with his submission victory at UFC on Fox 3 (MMA Junkie)

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

The flyweight division is finally starting to heat up.  Those who were unimpressed by the 125-pounders in March may have had to change their opinions of the division in May when both John Dodson and Louis Gaudinot put on exciting fights at UFC on Fox 3.  The big knock on the little guys is that they lack power, which allegedly makes it less entertaining.  Well, anyone that watched those two fights last month may be eating their words after seeing those flyweights go at it.  Dodson took a decision, which moved him up a spot in the rankings, while Gaudinot choked out his opponent and earned his spot at No. 10.  Those two were not the only flyweights in action as Darrell Montague climbed higher after his first-round TKO over Tyler McCorriston.  But what MMA fans will really be looking forward to is the rematch between Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson.  They first fought to a controversial draw and will meet again later this month to determine who will take on Joseph Benavidez for the inaugural flyweight championship.

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

The only movement that came out of the pound-for-pound rankings was Gilbert Melendez dropping from No. 7 to No. 9.  It is tough enough to stay towards the top of each individual set of weight class rankings, but it is even tougher to stay towards the top in pound-for-pound.  Despite “El Nino” successfully defending his title last month, it wasn’t impressive enough to lock him into the No. 7 position or move him up.  Need evidence that this is how it is?  Junior dos Santos dominated Frank Mir at UFC 146 and did not move up the rankings at all.  It is beginning to look like the only way to move up the rankings is for an opponent ahead of you to lose, or perhaps only win by split decision.

Top Photo: UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

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.