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)

    Stipe Miocic threw everything in his arsenal at Roy Nelson, including this elbow (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

There were two key fights this past month in the heavyweight division. First, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira took on Fabricio Werdum in the coaches’ fight for the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, and Roy Nelson faced Stipe Miocic. The match-up between the two Brazilians didn’t make it out of the second round as Werdum submitted “Big Nog” by armbar. Age has definitely played a key factor in “Minotauro’s” recent outings, with Nogueira having been submitted in his last two losses. The victory for Werdum was important, but he stays ranked at the same spot as before due to the fact that has some tough company to pass. Had he done this years earlier, to a younger, less-traveled Nogueira, then one could justify leaping into a higher position, but not just yet. In the other featured heavyweight tilt, Miocic put on a dominant performance and cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Nelson. Having won his last three in impressive fashion, “Big Country” had a lot of momentum headed into the fight. Despite that, Miocic found a way to avoid Neslon’s feared overhand right and controlled the entire fight. The victory was good enough to bump “Big Country” out of the top 10, and in doing so, Miocic carved out a nice spot for himself in the mix. This month, the Bellator Summer Series heavyweight tournament will wrap up, with Ryan Martinez and Vitaly Minakov squaring off for an eventual shot at Alexander Volkov’s title.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Fabricio Werdum at No. 3: “With Werdum’s submission victory over ‘Big Nog’ and Cormier’s lackluster performance against Mir, I feel Werdum is the No. 3 heavyweight right now.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Rashad Evans picked up a big split decision win against Dan Henderson at UFC 161 (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

The main event at UFC 161 featured two light heavyweight fighters in dire need of a victory, and it was Rashad Evans who squeaked out a split decision over Dan Henderson. “Suga” had previously been on a two-fight losing streak, having lost to champion Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in back-to-back appearances. A third straight loss would have been devastating to the former Ultimate Fighter winner, but he managed to do just enough to get the victory and avoid the third consecutive loss. On the other hand, the defeat for “Hendo” gave him his second straight. Both losses followed not only a missed opportunity at a title shot, but an ACL injury. At age 42, Henderson isn’t getting any younger, and one would have to figure that the end of his career could be near. Whether that is the case or he continues to fight, it would be a safe bet to say that he will never get another title shot. There was supposed to be another big light heavyweight fight on the card, but the bout fell apart. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was slated to battle Nogueira, but “Little Nog” had to withdraw due to an injury. For a short period, Chael Sonnen was linked to fighting on the card, but due to his past legal issues, he was unable to acquire a visa and Rua was removed from the card. Not all was lost, though, as a bout between Shogun and Sonnen will headline the promotion’s first card on Fox Sports 1 in August. Bellator’s four-man tournament in the light heavyweight division kicked off in June. Both Jacob Noe and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal advanced and will square off in July to earn a title shot.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Rashad Evans at No. 8: “Evans finally looked like a fighter that wanted to be in the cage and picked up a win for his efforts.”
Middleweight
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    When Anderson Silva is fighting, you'd better stop what you're doing and watch (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Vitor Belfort (2)
  3. Chris Weidman (3)
  4. Yushin Okami (4)
  5. Michael Bisping (6)
  6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (5)
  7. Luke Rockhold (7)
  8. Hector Lombard (8)
  9. Costa Philippou (9)
  10. Tim Kennedy (-)

If there is one unofficial rule of being a fan of MMA, it is that you absolutely positively cannot miss an Anderson Silva fight. There are plenty of reasons, the first of which being that usually it ends in some spectacular fashion. “The Spider” will go down in the record books as one of, if not, the best fighters in the history of the sport. He is a perfect 16-0 inside the Octagon, having defending the middleweight title 10 times. But one of the reasons why you would never want to miss his fights is due to the fact that you don’t want to miss it if he actually does lose. A lot of fighters in the MMA community are picking Chris Weidman to overtake Silva and become the first new middleweight champion since 2006, when Silva captured the crown. The biggest problem that the champion has faced while fighting inside the Octagon is taking on high-caliber wrestlers. Chael Sonnen created the blueprint for beating Silva, and Dan Henderson even had success against him back at UFC 82. Weidman holds significant wrestling credentials as well, and that is one of the reasons why people are giving the Long Island native a chance. The two fight in the main event of UFC 162, but there are another two key 185-pound fights on the card. Tim Kennedy and Roger Gracie will both make their UFC debuts at the event as they square off with each other, and Mark Munoz will take on Tim Boetsch as well.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Alexander Shlemenko outside the top 10 at No. 11: “The Bellator middleweight champion is on the cusp of cracking the top 10, and with a victory in September, he likely will.”
Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    Jon Fitch was choked out by Josh Burkman in less than a minute in his World Series of Fighting debut (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Johny Hendricks (2)
  3. Carlos Condit (3)
  4. Demian Maia (4)
  5. Rory MacDonald (6)
  6. Jake Ellenberger (5)
  7. Ben Askren (7)
  8. Martin Kampmann (8)
  9. Tarec Saffiedine (-)
  10. Robbie Lawler (-)

When the UFC cut former title contender Jon Fitch, there was a lot of uproar in the MMA community. Sure, Fitch was never the most exciting fighter on the UFC’s roster, but he had an impressive record in the promotion despite going just 1-2-1 in his last four fights. UFC President Dana White said that one of the big reasons they released him was due to the fact that he was on the downside of his career, and the higher-ups at the UFC may have known exactly what they were doing. Fitch made his debut at World Series of Fighting 3 in a rematch years in the making against Josh Burkman, and it took Burkman just 41 seconds to choke Fitch unconscious. The loss dropped the American Kickboxing Academy fighter out of the top 10, which in part has made room for newcomers Tarec Saffiedine and Robbie Lawler. A new Ultimate Fighter has been crowned, as Leonardo Santos defeated William Macario by submission in June. In July, the Bellator welterweight title will be on the line when Ben Askren defends the championship against Andrey Koreshkov.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Matt Brown at No. 10: “Fitch’s loss and Nick Diaz’s continued retirement gave me a chance to reflect on the landscape at the bottom of the top 10. Along with Robbie Lawler, Matt Brown finally deserves consideration here. Brown has put together a great streak that has been largely overlooked.”
Lightweight
  1. Ben Henderson (1)

    James Krause made a big impression with fight fans with his victory over Sam Stout (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

There was not a lot of action to be seen in June for the 155-pounders, but James Krause managed to make headlines. The UFC newcomer found his place on UFC 161 as an injury replacement and drew a difficult first fight in taking on Sam Stout. Krause looked great in his victory over Stout, earning both the “Submission of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” bonus. Jacob Volkmann won his WSOF debut by taking a unanimous decision victory from Lyle Beerbohm. In July, the Bellator lightweight championship will be on the line when Michael Chandler takes on David Rickels. Chandler is currently the highest rated non-UFC fighter in the lightweight rankings, and for good reason. His professional record sits at 11-0, and he has only needed the judges’ scorecards twice.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Anthony Pettis at No. 3: “Can Pettis make up his mind? Now that he’s out of the featherweight title bout, it looks like he wants in on a lightweight title tilt. Until he actually fights at 145, I’ll still consider him a top 155er.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    With Anthony Pettis out with an injury, "The Korean Zombie" will get the next shot at the featherweight title (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)

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

It will not be Anthony Pettis challenging for Jose Aldo’s title as we once thought. The final WEC lightweight champion was forced out of the fight due to a knee injury and has been replaced with Chan-Sung Jung. “The Korean Zombie” is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, but hasn’t fought in over a year. Still, Jung has been impressive as of late. In his last three, he finished off Leonard Garcia with the first twister in promotional history, he knocked out Mark Hominick in just seven seconds, and he fought in the ‘Fight of the Year” against Dustin Poirier, choking him out with a D’arce choke. That resume was impressive enough to earn him the next shot at Aldo. Equally important, UFC 162 will feature another important 145-pound fight when Cub Swanson takes on Dennis Siver. Swanson is currently riding a four-fight winning streak, and Siver is an undefeated 2-0 at featherweight. The winner of the fight will put themselves in a good position for the future layout of the featherweight division.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Rony Jason outside the top 10 at No. 14: “Three wins in the UFC is good enough to give him a spot in the top 15. This next fight is key for the TUF Brazil winner.”
Bantamweight
  1. Renan Barao (1)

    Bibiano Fernandes was dominant in his championship fight at ONE FC 9 (Taro Irei/Sherdog)

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

Dominick Cruz fell out of the top spot a couple of months ago as a direct result of inactivity. He held serve at No. 2 for a while, but many panelists have dropped him due to his 20-month absence from the cage. Both Urijah Faber and Bibiano Fernandes jumped over the current UFC bantamweight champion. Faber has been active and has won two straight fights. Currently, “The California Kid” has a fight lined up with Yuri Alcantara. Meanwhile, Fernandes has been very active himself, including winning the interim ONE FC bantamweight championship. It would be surprising to see Cruz completely drop out of the top 10 unless he formally retires, but for now, his slide will likely continue. Raphael Assuncao makes his debut into the top 10 after his submission victory last month. Ever since dropping the additional weight, he has been undefeated, winning four straight. Look for him to continue his way up if he continues to be victorious.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Bibiano Fernandes at No. 2: “Fernandes picked up the ONE FC title and continues to show he’s the best bantamweight outside of Zuffa.”
Flyweight
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)

    It may not be long until Sergio Pettis fights inside the Octagon (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

The biggest story that came out of the flyweight division in June was a bit of a head-scratcher as the main event of Resurrection Fighting Alliance 8 had to be juggled around when Jeff Curran dropped out of the title fight against Sergio Pettis due to an injury to his dog two weeks prior to the fight. Regardless of how you feel about it, Pettis was given a new opponent in Dillard Pegg and knocked him out in just under a minute. The younger brother of Anthony Pettis holds a professional record of 8-0 and now has a brand new piece to display in his trophy case as he took home the inaugural RFA flyweight title. Considering the impressive record, his link to Team Roufusport, and the fact that his brother is a star, it may not be long before we see Pettis signing on the dotted line with the UFC and adding depth to the still-new division. In July, Demetrious Johnson will defend his title against John Moraga. The two were supposed to battle at the most recent Ultimate Fighter finale, but an injury to “Mighty Mouse” put the fight on hold. Johnson is undefeated at flyweight and will put the title on the line for the second time in his fight with Moraga, who looks to capture UFC gold in just his third promotional fight.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Yasuhiro Urishitani at No. 10: “With a win over Rey Docyogen at ONE FC 9, the former UFC combatant proved he’s still relevant.”
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    While this celebration took place in 2007, it marked a second championship for "Hendo", who was a longtime staple in the pound-for-pound rankings (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

The longtime king of the pound-for-pound rankings will put his title on the line next weekend as International Fight Week concludes with Anderson Silva’s main-event bout against Chris Weidman. Although superfights have been a hot-button issue as of late and they appear to always be dangled in front of our faces, “The Spider” has to stay focused on his opponents at 185 pounds. It is hard to imagine a world where Silva loses a fight in the UFC, but with a lot of people confident in Weidman in this fight, it may be time to envision someone else at the top of the rankings. Junior dos Santos cracks the top 10 for the first time since the loss to Cain Velasquez due to the door being left wide open by Dan Henderson. The former simultaneous, two-division champion in Pride may finally be losing a step, and it may mark the end of an era in the sport. “Hendo” has fought at middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight, and he was the 205-pound champion of Strikeforce before vacating the title to come back to the UFC. Although pound-for-pound rankings will always have a stigma to them because it is truly unrealistic for a lot of people to bounce around from weight class to weight class, Henderson not only did it, but he succeeded at it.

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: Anderson Silva (L) (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.