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)

    Stefan Struve's (r) knockout of Stipe Miocic wasn't enough to crack him into the top ten (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

Between the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator, there was only one heavyweight fight in the month of September. Sure, UFC 151 and Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy were both canceled, but neither of them had a heavyweight fight scheduled for the card.  The UFC on Fuel TV 5 main event fight between Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic was the lone heavyweight fight in a major promotion.  Struve took down the formerly undefeated Miocic, displaying a great striking attack after he found his range with his jab.  The victory gave “The Skyscraper” his fourth consecutive win inside the Octagon, but it still left him outside of the top ten.  But the biggest news out of the heavyweights last month was that Frank Mir suffered an injury and has been removed from Daniel Cormier’s final Strikeforce fight.  As of right now, Cormier is still scheduled to fight at the event, but does not have an opponent as of yet.  Look for the heavyweights to be more active in October as the main event at UFC on FX 5 is a heavyweight fight, there are two heavyweight fights at UFC 153, and Bellator’s season-seven heavyweight tournament is set to kick off this Friday.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Stefan Struve outside the top 10 at No. 11: “Struve has picked up wins over increasingly difficult competition, and only his losses to Roy Nelson and Travis Browne keep him from cracking the top 10.
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Vitor Belfort almost did the impossible, but Jon Jones got out of the armbar and went on to defend his title. (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

With the injury to Dan Henderson, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones needed a new No. 1 contender.  The UFC reached out to Lyoto Machida, who was supposed to be the next guy in line after the fight at UFC 151 anyway.  However, Machida didn’t accept the fight.  Then former middleweight No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen made his case, which UFC President Dana White liked and therefore offered the fight to the champion, who then declined.  From there, the fight fell apart and the card was canceled.  “Bones” was given a new challenger at UFC 152, Vitor Belfort, who hadn’t fought at 205 pounds since 2007.  Outside of a close armbar very early in the fight, Belfort was completely over-matched, and Jones exited the cage with yet another successful title defense.  Also at UFC 152, Matt Hamill returned to the cage and dominated Roger Hollett and Vinny Magalhaes scored a slick submission against Igor Pokrajac.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Jon Jones at No. 1: “Jones showed vulnerability for the first time, nearly getting armbarred by Vitor Belfort. But the champion showed his heart and kept his belt.”
Middleweight
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Brian Stann (l) dropped out of the top ten after being defeated by "The Count" at UFC 152 (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

The biggest fight in the middleweight division came at UFC 152 when Michael Bisping took on Brian Stann.  Bisping won a fairly close decision where all three judges scored the fight 29-28.  While the victory was very big for the Brit, it may not have been enough for him to jump into the unofficial No. 1 contender spot for Anderson Silva’s title.  Had Bisping finished Stann, it very well could have catapulted him past the field, but according to our rankings, he only moves up one spot to No. 5.  With the loss, Stann dropped out of the top ten after being ranked at No. 9 last month.  Also, speaking of “The Spider,” he will be fighting in the main event at UFC 153 after all of the injuries suffered to the former fighters at the event.  Only, rather than fighting and defending his middleweight strap, he will be fighting Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight contest at the event due to the rather short training camp that he has to prepare for the fight and weight cut.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Michael Bisping at No. 4: “‘Bisping’s victory over Stann made him the biggest mover on my rankings. He slides up 3 spots to No. 4″
Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    Georges St-Pierre (l) and Carlos Condit are set to square off at UFC 154 (Cage Potato)

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

As far as the welterweight action that took place in September, none of it occurred involving the top-ten ranked fighters.  The biggest news that came out of the weight class was the official announcement of the main event fight at UFC 154 between Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit, which will unify the welterweight championship title.  Not only will that fight take place at the event, but Martin Kampmann will take on Johny Hendricks in what appears to be the unofficial No. 1 contender fight for the 170-pound title. Jake Ellenberger will take on Jay Hieron at UFC on FX 5 this Friday, as “The Juggernaut” will do what he can to try and climb back up the rankings, along with Jon Fitch, who will make his return to the Octagon at UFC 153 after nearly a year off after getting knocked out by Johny Hendricks in just 12 seconds.  In Bellator action, season seven kicked off with a welterweight tournament at Bellator 74, where former champ Lyman Good advanced to the semi-final round of the tournament along with three other fighters.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Dan Hardy outside the top ten at No. 15: “Back-to-back wins over Ludwig and Sadollah are nothing to brag about, but it is a step back in the right direction for ‘The Outlaw.'”
Lightweight
  1. Ben Henderson (1)

    An injury held Gilbert Melendez out of his fight with Pat Healy, and the Strikeforce card was canceled shortly after (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

It wasn’t the most exciting month for the lightweights, as the big fight in September was supposed to be Gilbert Melendez defending his title against Pat Healy.  After suffering a training injury, the Strikeforce lightweight champion pulled out of the fight, which caused Strikeforce to go on and cancel the card after Showtime decided it would not air it without Melendez fighting.  That wasn’t the only fight involving  ranked fighters that was cancelled, as Frankie Edgar’s title fight at UFC 153 against Jose Aldo for the featherweight title was scrapped after Aldo was forced to withdraw with an injury.  We know that Dana White has been pushing for Edgar’s drop to featherweight for quite some time, but it is not officially known as to whether or not Edgar will seek his next fight at lightweight or featherweight after the cancellation of his title bout.  As far as inside the cage, the biggest lightweight action in October takes place within Bellator.  The main event at Bellator 76 is Eddie Alvarez fighting the last fight of his contract against Patricky Freire, while the lightweight tournament kicks off the following week at Bellator 77.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Matt Wiman at No. 10: “‘What better way to remind the division that you’re still a threat than submitting a submission specialist in his own backyard? Wiman is quietly 9-4 in the UFC and a few wins from making some serious noise.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Cub Swanson scored the "Knockout of the Night" at UFC 152 and broke into the top ten (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

Like many of the other divisions, the featherweights were fairly dormant in September.  Cub Swanson burst into the top ten after an outstanding knockout of Charles Oliveira at UFC 152.  The victory was his third in a row, with his most recent loss coming to the guy ranked one spot ahead of him, Ricardo Lamas.  The man at the top of the mountain was supposed to defend his title this month at UFC 153, but an injury has forced him off of the card.  As it stands, we don’t know when he will be back, and we don’t know if he will defend his title against former No. 1 contender Erik Koch or if he will take on Frankie Edgar, who he was supposed to fight at UFC 153 after Koch suffered an injury of his own.  Two featherweight Ultimate Fighter winners will fight at UFC 153 as Rony “Jason” and Diego Brandao are scheduled to fight Sam Sicilia and Joey Gambino, respectively.  Also, Bellator 76 will host the opening round to its season-seven featherweight tournament.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Cub Swanson outside the top ten at No. 12: “The biggest question right now is whether Swanson can keep this up. But, based on what I’ve seen of Hatsu Hioki and Dennis Siver lately, Swanson’s win over Oliveira vaults him over them, but not quite into the top 10.”
Bantamweight
  1. Dominick Cruz (1)

    Brad Pickett (r) delivered a devastating uppercut to Yves Jabouin, knocking him out (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

With a strong uppercut, Brad Pickett knocked out Yves Jabouin at UFC on Fuel TV 5 last Saturday.  Pickett has been a guy that has been hanging around the bottom of the top ten for quite some time.  With the knockout of Jabouin, Pickett displayed the boxing that the fans had been wanting to see, and it resulted in him moving up the ladder to No. 6.  Other than the fight between Pickett and Jabouin, the division was calm during September as it was one of only three bantamweight fights that took place combined between the UFC and Bellator.  Look for the division to stay calm during October too, as currently the only major promotion to have a bantamweight fight scheduled is Bellator as Chase Beebe will take on Bo Harris at Bellator 75.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Brad Pickett at No. 6: “‘One Punch’ lived up to his nickname in a big way at UFC on Fuel TV 5.”
Flyweight
  1. Demetrious Johnson (2)

    Demetrious Johnson (r) outlasted Joseph Benavidez en route to the flyweight title (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

  2. Ian McCall (3)
  3. Joseph Benavidez (1)
  4. Jussier da Silva (4)
  5. Mamoru Yamaguchi (6)
  6. John Dodson (7)
  7. Darrell Montague (5)
  8. Yashiro Urushitani (8)
  9. Chris Cariaso (9)
  10. Louis Gaudinot (10)

History was made in the flyweight division as Demetrious Johnson captured the inaugural UFC flyweight championship at UFC 152.  Johnson defeated Joseph Benavidez by split decision; however, the court of public opinion thinks that “Mighty Mouse” won the fight more decisively.  Who is next for the champion, we do not yet know; however, the picture may be clearer after Friday’s UFC on FX 5 card.  The Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson will take on Jussier “Formiga” da Silva, who will be making his Octagon debut at the event.  Formiga has been ranked as a top-five flyweight for what seems like forever, but he will finally put his skills on display for the world to see.  His only loss comes to Ian McCall in 2011, but he has won five consecutive fights in the meantime.  Look for the winner of this fight to become the No. 1 contender for the UFC flyweight title.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Demetrious Johnson at No. 1: “”Mighty Mouse” looked great in becoming the first-ever UFC flyweight champ. He’s now defeated McCall and Benavidez, making him a clear No. 1″
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Anderson Silva will fight Stephan Bonnar in the main event at UFC 153 at light heavyweight, not middleweight (Sherdog)

  2. Jon Jones (2)
  3. Georges St-Pierre (3)
  4. Jose Aldo (4)
  5. Dan Henderson (8)
  6. Dominick Cruz (6)
  7. Ben Henderson (7)
  8. Gilbert Melendez (9)
  9. Demetrious Johnson (-)
  10. Carlos Condit (-)

Generally speaking, it is very difficult to climb up the pound-for-pound rankings.  It is a little surprising to see that Dan Henderson climbed up a couple of spots, especially after the debacle that happened as a result of UFC 151 being canceled.  However, with the occasional writer at The MMA Corner coming and going, there tends to be minor shakeups in the rankings that are understandable.  Cracking into the top ten for the first time is the first flyweight champion in UFC history, Demetrious Johnson.  “Mighty Mouse” had a very difficult path to the title after the draw that took place in Australia, but he persevered through it and captured the title.  Next month, the king of the pound-for-pound category, Anderson Silva, will fight Stephan Bonnar.  The fight gives Silva the opportunity to showcase why he is the No. 1-ranked pound-for-pounder as he will be moving up a weight class for the fight.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Demetrious Johnson at No. 10: “The flyweight champion, who was the former bantamweight No. 1 contender, belongs in the pound-for-pound rankings.”

Top Photo: Demetrious Johnson (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.