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 hopes that the belt will again be in front of him after his rematch with dos Santos (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

August was another not so busy month for the heavyweight division. Ever since May, when we had an all-heavyweight main event, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on with the big guys, at least inside the cage. Recently, it was officially announced that Junior dos Santos would defend his title against Cain Velasquez in the main event at UFC 155 in December. The fight will be a rematch from the first-ever fight that aired on Fox last November, where “Cigano” took the title from the AKA fighter. Meanwhile, Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson will be coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, which kicks off on Sept. 14. The big heavyweight fight scheduled for September will be the main event at UFC on Fuel TV 5 as Stipe Miocic takes on Stefan Struve in England. The winner of that fight very well could be ranked next month.

Writer’s take – Paige Berger, ranking Stipe Miocic outside the top 10 at No. 14: “Miocic deserves a top-15 spot.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Greg Jackson (l) is being credited as the reason that Jon Jones (r) did not accept a fight with Chael Sonnen (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

By now, everyone knows the situation surrounding UFC 151. With that card cancelled, it has been a juggling act and we have landed on Jon Jones defending his title against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152. While Belfort has been fighting at middleweight recently, he has fought at heavyweight and light heavyweight previously. In fact, Belfort is a former UFC light heavyweight champion, having defeated Randy Couture for the strap at UFC 46. Sure, that fight ended as a result of a cut just 49-seconds in, but a win is a win. Belfort creates an interesting puzzle for Jones to figure out, mostly due to his elite level of boxing. But prior to this situation developing, the light heavyweights were on display for the world at UFC on Fox 4 where Lyoto Machida, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Ryan Bader and Brandon Vera were fighting for the next title shot. The nod was given to Machida, but he passed on the opportunity to fight Jones at UFC 152 due to the fact that he wanted more time to prepare. Even though he lost at the event, Vera definitely climbed up people’s ladders. “The Truth” looked impressive in defeat and definitely gained some fans in the process.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Mauricio Rua at No. 3: “The most logical No. 1 contender got bumped after facing a game Brandon Vera.”
Middleweight
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Chael Sonnen was up to his old antics, and almost landed a title fight at UFC 151 as a result (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

  2. Chael Sonnen (2)
  3. Vitor Belfort (3)
  4. Chris Weidman (4)
  5. Luke Rockhold (6)
  6. Michael Bisping (5)
  7. Tim Boetsch (7)
  8. Mark Munoz (9)
  9. Brian Stann (8)
  10. Alan Belcher (-)

While the middleweight division was fairly dormant during August, there were still plenty of sparks that flew out of it. Ever since his defeat at UFC 148, the world wondered what was next for Chael Sonnen. The Team Quest fighter announced that he was going to move up to light heavyweight and take on Forrest Griffin at UFC 155. As Sonnen often does, he managed to find himself in a war of words with champion Jon Jones prior to the UFC 151 fiasco. After Dan Henderson had to pull out of the fight, it was offered to Sonnen, and although Sonnen accepted, the champ declined. Ultimately, the title shot was awarded to Vitor Belfort, and Sonnen’s fight with Griffin is still scheduled. But that isn’t all regarding UFC 151 and our mix of middleweights and light heavyweights, as reports said that Anderson Silva would have fought on short notice against any light heavyweight of the promotion’s choosing in an effort to save the event. That didn’t pan out, and as a result we have Brian Stann taking on Michael Bisping at UFC 152 as the big fight of the division in September.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Ronaldo Souza at No. 6: “‘Jacare’ had been slipping in my rankings, but the fact that he displayed knockout power adds a new element to the game of the submission specialist and makes him more dangerous than ever.”
Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    "Rush" has definitely taken his time to return, and will face Carlos Condit at UFC 154 (Stephen Fernandez/Splash News)

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

UFC 154 has landed itself with quite the welterweight lineup. The welterweight title will be unified as champion Georges St-Pierre will take on interim champ Carlos Condit in the evening’s main event. In the co-main event, Johny Hendricks will take on Martin Kampmann in what has not officially been announced as a No. 1 contender fight; however, it appears as though it is a fairly obvious assumption to make. Jake Ellenberger is going to have to wait just a little bit longer to throw his name back in the hat after his fight with Jay Hieron was moved from UFC 151 to UFC on FX 5. Last month, Jake Shields held the No. 10 welterweight ranking, but after he officially moved back to middleweight, Ben Askren returned to the rankings. The Bellator champion recently took down Douglas Lima and is now locked and loaded to take on new challenger Karl Amoussou in the near future.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Georges St-Pierre No. 3: “After a year and a half not competing, he drops in my rankings.”
Lightweight
  1. Ben Henderson (1)

    "Smooth" was all smiles after UFC 150 (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

In what may have been the closest fight of the year, Ben Henderson held off Frankie Edgar at UFC 150. The victory helped “Smooth” hang onto his title belt, and also his No. 1 ranking. The close fight is also the reason that Edgar didn’t move down the rankings after the loss, but rather remained exactly where he was. The critics have always said that the former champion was too small for lightweight and really would be better suited for the lighter weight classes, and after the loss, it was announced that “The Answer” is finally planning on moving down. But as the saying goes, there is no rest for the weary as Henderson’s next fight has already been announced—he is going to take on Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle. Another recently announced lightweight fight is one between former TUF castmates Gray Maynard and Joe Lauzon. Even though nothing is official, Donald Cerrone called out Anthony Pettis before and after his knockout victory over Melvin Guillard at UFC 150. Fans will also be happy to see Gilbert Melendez return to the cage and take on Pat Healy towards the end of the month.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Donald Cerrone at No. 5: “‘Cowboy’ is 6-1 in the UFC with four finishes. At this point, I feel like he is allowed the hiccup he had against Nate Diaz. Watch out for Cerrone.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Your new UFC featherweight No. 1 contender, Frankie Edgar (Sherdog)

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

Huge news regarding the featherweight division broke late Thursday night as Erik Koch pulled out of his fight against Jose Aldo at UFC 153 due to an injury. Stepping up to face “Scarface” is former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. This will mark the first time Edgar will fight outside of the lightweight division in the UFC. He is coming off of two close losses against Ben Henderson, which may have been the reason as to why Edgar will get the immediate title shot, rather than the UFC giving the nod to Chad Mendes or “The Korean Zombie.” Speaking of title shots, there was a cancelled one last month after Pat Curran had to withdraw from his fight against Patricio Freire. The two were supposed to square off at Bellator 73, and it is expected that the fight will be moved to a future Bellator event. The next season put on by the promotion starts in late September, and something tells me that it will be easy for Bjorn Rebney to pencil that fight in on one of those cards.

Writer’s take – Corey Adams, ranking Erik Koch at No. 9: “Koch was the next contender for the belt, but isn’t a top-5 guy in my eyes.”

Bantamweight

  1. Dominick Cruz (1)

    Bellator must not be happy that their bantamweight champion, Eduardo Dantas, was recently knocked out in another promotion (Alan Oliveira/Sherdog)

  2. Renan Barao (2)
  3. Urijah Faber (3)
  4. Michael McDonald (4)
  5. Brian Bowles (5)
  6. Bibiano Fernandes (6)
  7. Eddie Wineland (7)
  8. Brad Pickett (8)
  9. Scott Jorgensen (-)
  10. Mike Easton (10)

The biggest news to come out of the 135-pounders may have easily gone unnoticed by many last week. Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas fought Tyson Nam on a special Shooto Brazil fundraiser event last weekend, and Dantas was knocked out in less than two minutes. The loss not only hurt Dantas, but put a black eye on the Bellator promotion, as you could argue that Nam is now more deserving of the belt, even though it was not on the line in their fight. In any event, the loss knocked Dantas from the rankings after coming in at No. 9 previously. On One FC ‘s card this weekend, Bibiano Fernandes has a chance to move up the rankings as he is scheduled to fight Gustavo Falciroli in the main event. Fernandes was a buzzing name recently after it was thought that he had signed with the UFC, but ultimately remained in Asia.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Tyson Nam at No. 9: “Nam beat top-ten fighter Dantas this month and debuts in the top 10.”
Flyweight
  1. Joseph Benavidez (1)

    Joseph Benavidez (l) and Demetrious Johnson will fight for the inaugural UFC flyweight title belt this month (Sherdog)

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

After the sticky situation that came from the beginning of the flyweight tournament back in March, we are finally going to conclude the tourney when Joseph Benavidez takes on Demetrious Johnson in the co-main event at UFC 152. The winner of the fight will go down in history as the first fighter to wear the UFC flyweight championship belt, which adds a little bit more to the big picture of the fight. Both fighters were unsuccessful in attempts to pry the bantamweight title away from Dominick Cruz, but one will successfully walk away with the gold next month. Looking ahead, there may be another unofficial No. 1 contender match-up as promotional newcomer Jussier da Silva takes on John Dodson at UFC on FX 5 in November. If the UFC wants to keep the division moving, it needs to start progressing the rest of the flyweights along.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Ulysses Gomez outside the top 10 at No. 15: “Sure, it was a short-notice fight, but Gomez will have to show more than that to move into the top ten”
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Should Ronda Rousey be ranked inside the top 10? (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

  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 (7)
  8. Dan Henderson (8)
  9. Gilbert Melendez (9)
  10. Joseph Benavidez (-)

While it was no surprise that Jon Jones remained the No. 1 ranked light heavyweight after the situation that happened with UFC 151, it is a little surprising that Jones remained the No. 2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter. It is not simply because he is not taking on Chael Sonnen, which ultimately was the reason for the cancellation of the card, but it was because these fighters are supposed to be able to defeat anyone, regardless of how much time they have to train for them. “Bones” was already training for a fight, against a top wrestler nonetheless, and he declined Sonnen, which led people to believe that he was scared of the former middleweight. But Jones remains at No. 2, sitting right behind Anderson Silva, the man who tried to save the card. The only shake-up in the rankings is Joseph Benavidez returning to No. 10, which may be a sign of things to come as a result of his upcoming fight at UFC 152.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Ronda Rousey at No. 9: “Surprised to see a woman in the pound-for-pound? Why? She is 6-0 professional, 3-0 amateur, with nine total first-round finishes. She won and has defended the Strikeforce bantamweight title. That is worthy of a top-10 ranking in my book.”

Top Photo: Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey (James Law/Heavy MMA)

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.