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. Cain Velasquez (1)

    Cormier defeated Mir in his first fight with the UFC (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Daniel Cormier (2)
  3. Junior dos Santos (3)
  4. Fabricio Werdum (4)
  5. Antonio Silva (5)
  6. Josh Barnett (6)
  7. Alistair Overeem (7)
  8. Mark Hunt (8)
  9. Frank Mir (9)
  10. Roy Nelson (-)

After he recaptured the UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 155, Cain Velasquez will fight a familiar foe when he defends the title later this month against Antonio Silva. “Bigfoot” made his UFC debut back at UFC 146 against Velasquez and was disposed of in less than four minutes. The Brazilian recovered nicely by handing Travis Browne the first loss in his career and followed that up by knocking out Alistair Overeem in the third round of their fight at UFC 155. That fight won’t be the only big heavyweight fight of the night, as the lineup also features Junior dos Santos taking on Mark Hunt. If dos Santos wins, he will likely get another title shot, whereas a victory for Hunt would likely put him one fight away from the title shot. In April, Daniel Cormier solidified his position at No. 2 when he defeated Frank Mir, who surprisingly did not slip down the rankings as a result. Roy Nelson worked his way back into the top ten after landing a big knockout against Cheick Kongo at UFC 159. The victory was the third in a row for “Big Country,” who has a lot of momentum behind him as a result.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Daniel Cormier at No. 2:“It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Cormier never let Frank Mir generate any offense to pick a win in his Octagon debut.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    "Bones" didn't need more than one round to defeat Sonnen at UFC 159 (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

  2. Lyoto Machida (2)
  3. Alexander Gustafsson (3)
  4. Dan Henderson (4)
  5. Mauricio Rua (5)
  6. Phil Davis (6)
  7. Glover Teixeira (7)
  8. Gegard Mousasi (8)
  9. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (10)
  10. Rashad Evans (9)

With a victory over Chael Sonnen at UFC 159, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tied Tito Ortiz’s record for title defenses in the division. “Bones” was able to finish the fight in the first round by TKO, but would likely have lost the fight as a result of an injury had Sonnen survived 27 seconds longer. Still, Jones dominated the fight, taking down the former middleweight contender over and over again. The story now, however, is the broken toe that was suffered during the fight, which could sideline the champion for quite some time. Depending on how long, we could see Lyoto Machida battle Alexander Gustafsson for the distinction of being the No. 1 contender for the title. The Swede was supposed to fight against Gegard Mousasi last month at UFC on Fuel TV 9, but a cut suffered while training the week of the event forced him off of the card. Mousasi still fought, but he took on Ilir Latifi on short notice and beat him by unanimous decision. Due to the fact that Mousasi defeated a relatively unknown fighter, he didn’t climb up the rankings with the victory. Brazilian Glover Teixeira will look to continue his dominant ways in the Octagon with a victory at UFC 160 this month in his fight against James Te Huna.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Phil Davis at No. 7: “Davis holds steady following his win over Vinny Magalhaes. He’ll need a win against a top-10 opponent or a loss from someone in front of him before he moves up.”
Middleweight
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    "The Count" bounced back nicely after the loss to Belfort with the victory over Belcher (Brian McKenna/The MMA Corner)

  2. Vitor Belfort (2)
  3. Chris Weidman (3)
  4. Luke Rockhold (5)
  5. Yushin Okami (6)
  6. Michael Bisping (8)
  7. Ronaldo Souza (7)
  8. Chael Sonnen (4)
  9. Hector Lombard (9)
  10. Costa Philippou (10)

Although the showcase fight of the middleweights was one between two longtime UFC veterans, the month of April was mostly geared towards the fresh meat of the promotion. Michael Bisping bounced back from a recent knockout at the hands of Vitor Belfort by taking out Alan Belcher at UFC 159. Bisping had been dominating most of the fight into the third round, where an eye poke to the surgically repaired eye of Belcher ended the fight earlier than what was scheduled and gave “The Count” a technical decision victory. The UFC crowned a new Ultimate Fighter champion when Kelvin Gastelum defeated favorite Uriah Hall. Hall had torn through the competition in the stages that took place during the season, but Gastelum looked past the hype and took the decision. Two key middleweight fights will take place in May, when Vitor Belfort takes on the final Strikeforce middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza locks horns with Costa Philippou.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Alan Belcher outside the top 10 at No. 12: “With back-to-back losses, Belcher drops out of the top 10.”
Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    Matt Brown won his fifth straight at UFC on Fox 7 (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

In a month where there was plenty of action, the 170-pounders were fairly dormant. With most of the fighters at the top of the division busy at UFC 158, April was more of a month where the division collectively exhaled and started to recover. Despite this, there was still room for Matt Brown to land a big knockout against Jordan Mein. Following a loss at UFC 139, Brown was in hot water after losing four out of his last five. Usually, the higher-ups at the UFC hand out a pink slip if that happens, but Brown was brought back for another fight and has relished in the opportunity by winning five straight fights now. The former Ultimate Fighter cast member has failed to make the top 10, but with a sixth straight victory, he could crack it and make an appearance with the best fighters in the division. Two fighters who recently won The Ultimate Fighter will take square off in their first fight after winning the show, when Colton Smith will take on Robert Whittaker at UFC 160.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Matt Brown outside the top 10 at No. 14: “Five straight for Brown is nice, but call me when he beats a top-10 fighter.”
Lightweight
  1. Ben Henderson (1)

    When it was all said and done, the UFC champion outlasted the Strikeforce champion (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Gilbert Melendez (2)
  3. Gray Maynard (3)
  4. Anthony Pettis (4)
  5. Michael Chandler (6)
  6. Pat Healy (-)
  7. Eddie Alvarez (8)
  8. Josh Thomson (-)
  9. Nate Diaz (5)
  10. T.J. Grant (10)

For years, former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez had been living in the shadow of the UFC lightweight champion, whether it was B.J. Penn, Frankie Edgar or current champ Ben Henderson. In April, Melendez was able to finally get his chance at proving everyone that he was just as good as them, and he did so, even in a losing effort. “El Nino” was on the wrong end of a split decision in his title fight against Henderson, who was making his third defense of the title. Although many feel as though the former Strikeforce champ should have won the fight, he was able at the very least to prove to everyone that he truly does belong in the title conversation. Melendez wasn’t the only Strikeforce lightweight to make some noise in what is arguably the toughest division in the sport. Pat Healy submitted Jim Miller at UFC 159 and Josh Thomson became the first fighter to ever knock out Nate Diaz when he did so at UFC on Fox 7. The next person to get a shot at “Smooth’s” gold strap will be determined at UFC 160 when Gray Maynard battles T.J. Grant. Maynard famously fought to a draw for the title back in 2011 against Frankie Edgar and has been itching to get another title shot ever since. Meanwhile, Grant has won four straight fights to get to where he is.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Gilbert Melendez at No. 2: “With his close loss to Henderson, I still regard Melendez as the No. 2 lightweight.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    "Money" did this backflip after knocking out Darren Elkins (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

Although most of the action that took place at 145 pounds was contested between fighters who were not inside the top 10, Chad Mendes continued to do his thing and reassure everyone that he is the clear No. 2-ranked featherweight in the UFC. The Team Alpha Male fighter has been great inside of the Octagon since he lost to champion Jose Aldo, but he has struggled to fight top talent due to the fact that his last two opponents have been late injury replacements. Still, you have to fight who they put in front of you and “Money” has been rolling right through them, winning his last three fights by first-round TKO or knockout. It is not yet known who will get the next title shot after Anthony Pettis, but it would be hard not to offer it to Mendes. But the victory wasn’t enough to put “Money” in front of Bellator champion Pat Curran in the rankings. “Paddy Mike” was able to successfully defend his strap twice last season in Bellator, and considering that the promotion has been churning out title fights left and right, expect him to defend his title sometime this summer. One of two suitors for Curran’s title is Daniel Straus, who would have fought for the title late last season if he had not suffered an injury. If Straus isn’t able to give it a go, last season’s tournament champion, Magomedrasul “Frodo” Khasbulaev could be the man opposing the champion.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Chad Mendes at No. 3: “Mendes, like his Team Alpha Male counterparts, showed the benefits of having Duane Ludwig as a striking coach with a first-round destruction of Darren Elkins.”
Bantamweight
  1. Renan Barao (1)

    Faber choked out another opponent, this time Scott Jorgensen (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Dominick Cruz (2)
  3. Urijah Faber (3)
  4. Bibiano Fernandes (5)
  5. Michael McDonald (4)
  6. Eddie Wineland (6)
  7. Brad Pickett (7)
  8. Brian Bowles (8)
  9. Scott Jorgensen (9)
  10. Eduardo Dantas (10)

At The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, Urijah Faber continued to prove that he can beat almost anyone in the bantamweight division. Everyone, that is, except the two people ranked higher than him. He battled Scott Jorgensen in the main event of the evening and slowly picked “Young Guns” apart en route to the rear-naked choke submission in the fourth round. The victory improved his bantamweight record to 5-2 and accounted his second win in two months. With interim champion Renan Barao defending his title against Eddie Wineland in June, it would make for an interesting fight for Faber to take on the winner. “The California Kid” defeated Wineland at UFC 128, but fell to Barao at UFC 149. However, all of this speculation is riding on champion Dominick Cruz and when he is able to return to action. His last fight was against Demetrious Johnson in December 2011 and the clock is ticking as to when he will actually return.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Brad Pickett at No. 7: “Pickett produced another strong win, but he’s somewhat stuck in the rankings for now.”
Flyweight
  1. Demeterious Johnson (1)

    Uyenoyama was TKO'ed by Benavidez at UFC on Fox 7 (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

Demetrious Johnson was originally scheduled to take on John Moraga at the TUF Finale in April, but it was learned long ago that an injury to “Mighty Mouse” would force a postponement of that fight. This left the lone 125-pound bout in the Octagon last month as one between Joseph Benavidez and Darren Uyenoyama. When Benavidez defeated Ian McCall after losing to Johnson in the promotion’s inaugural flyweight championship fight, he made a statement saying he didn’t want to rush back in for a title shot, but would rather take it a bit slower and accept another fight. Thus, he was lined up against Uyenoyama. “BC” was no match for Benavidez. The Team Alpha Male fighter won by second-round TKO. The victory lined Benavidez up for another title shot, or at the very least for a No. 1 contender fight against another top fighter in the division. In May, Jussier “Formiga” da Silva will return to the Octagon after failing to live up to the hype against John Dodson. Formiga battles Chris Cariaso, who lost to John Moraga his last time out.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Joseph Benavidez at No. 2: “I like that Benavidez paced himself in order to get back to a title shot, but he earned that by beating Uyenoyama.”
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Despite the victory, Jones is still ranked behind Anderson Silva (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Jon Jones (2)
  3. Georges St-Pierre (3)
  4. Jose Aldo (4)
  5. Ben Henderson (5)
  6. Demetrious Johnson (7)
  7. Cain Velasquez (6)
  8. Renan Barao (8)
  9. Ronda Rousey (9)
  10. Dan Henderson (-)

Although Jon Jones has lined himself up to be the best light heavyweight fighter that the world has ever seen, his victory over Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 has still left him sitting behind Anderson Silva. The two fighters have been virtually untouchable in their tenure with the UFC, but the two have never spent any time talking about how they are the better fighter. Both fighters are of similar size and stature and would definitely put on a great show that everyone in the sport would want to see. It wasn’t until the UFC 159 post-fight press conference, when UFC President Dana White said that “The Spider” called him and asked for a super fight, that any hints of a potential meeting surfaced. It could likely be that White is playing games with the media, but we may be nearing a fight between “Bones” and Silva. The problem with it is that if it were to happen, we would have to wait a while due to the fact that Silva is set to take on Chris Weidman in July and the light heavyweight champion needs time to recover from his toe injury. If these fighters can get past their current commitments and agree to a fight, it could be the biggest pay-per-view in the promotion’s history.

Writer’s take – Corey Adams, ranking Jon Jones at No. 2: “I don’t see how you can’t rank Jones at No. 2. He has for the most part cleaned out the division and Sonnen. He is slowly becoming my pound-for-pound top fighter on the planet.”

Top Photo: UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the cage before his title fight against Chael Sonnen (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.