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)

    "The Demolition Man" will square off with Travis Browne at UFC Fight Night 26 (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

With all of the momentum that the heavyweight division has found ever since Brock Lesnar was able to put a spotlight on the weight class, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the division only had one fight in major promotions through July, and it wasn’t even inside the UFC. The Bellator Summer Series heavyweight tournament finale was won by Vitaly Minakov. After knocking out his first opponent in the first round, it took a TKO victory in the third round against Ryan Martinez to win the tournament. For his efforts, Minakov will now get a title shot against champion Alexander Volkov at a future event. The slow season for heavyweights continues in August with, only two major fights taking place inside the Octagon. When UFC makes it’s debut on Fox Sports 1, former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem will meet Travis Browne. Browne has been nearly perfect inside the UFC, but he lost to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva last year. The Jackson-Winkeljohn product isn’t one to make excuses, but had he not torn his hamstring in that fight, he may have emerged victorious. Overeem, on the other hand, is also coming off a loss against Silva. “The Demolition Man” wants to erase that memory and get right back in the title picture. The other key bout is between Frank Mir and Josh Barnett. Mir, a former promotional champion, has dropped his last two fights, and at all costs wants to avoid the third straight defeat. Meanwhile, Barnett will fight in the Octagon for the first time since UFC 36 in 2002, where he defeated Randy Couture for the heavyweight championship, only to be stripped of the title and released from the promotion due to a positive steroid test.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Junior dos Santos at No. 2: “JDS and Velasquez are interchangeable in the top two slots in the heavyweight division. With the rubber match announced, we will see who truly is No. 1.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    "King Mo" earned a title fight with his TKO victory over Jacob Noe (Wilson Fox/Sherdog)

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

As with the heavyweight division, the lone significant fight at 205 pounds this month was in a Bellator Summer Series tournament championship. Former Strikeforce 205-pound champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal defeated Jacob Noe by third-round TKO. The win earns Lawal a title shot against champion Attila Vegh. Against Noe, Lawal went back to his roots and dominated the fight with his wrestling, a strategy that may have stemmed from the criticism he received after fighting with his hands down and getting knocked out by Emanuel Newton. There are two big light heavyweight bouts scheduled for August. The first has former champ Lyoto Machida taking on Phil Davis. Davis was recently victorious via unanimous decision against Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 159. Prior to that, he choked out Wagner Prado at UFC 153 and now hunts for his third straight win. “The Dragon” is also looking to win his third in a row and earn the next title shot. Main-eventing the first UFC card on Fox Sports 1 will be Chael Sonnen taking on former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. It appears as though the fight will be Sonnen’s last fight at light heavyweight, as he has expressed interest in returning to middleweight. Shogun has alternated wins and losses ever since his fight against Chuck Liddell at UFC 97 and enters this fight coming off a loss. It will be interesting to see if he can get over the issues with his gas tank in what is a five-round fight against Sonnen.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Muhammed Lawal outside the top 10 at No. 14: “It’s going to take more than a knockout of Seth Petruzelli and a late TKO over Jacob Noe to make us forget about that spinning back fist.”
Middleweight
  1. Chris Weidman (3)

    It was this left hook that was the beginning of the end of Anderson Silva's reign atop the middleweight division (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Anderson Silva (1)
  3. Vitor Belfort (2)
  4. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (6)
  5. Yushin Okami (4)
  6. Michael Bisping (5)
  7. Luke Rockhold (7)
  8. Mark Munoz (-)
  9. Hector Lombard (8)
  10. Costa Philippou (9)

With a second-round knockout, Chris Weidman defeated longtime No. 1-ranked Anderson Silva and took his UFC middleweight championship along with the win. Realistically, it was only a matter of time until Silva lost, but it doesn’t change the fact that everyone was still shocked that it actually happened. The former champ had gone 16-0 in his first 16 fights with the promotion, but fighting with his hands down time after time eventually caught up with “The Spider” as Weidman planted a firm left right on his jaw. Although Silva said in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he didn’t want a rematch, UFC President Dana White was able to put the fight together for UFC 168. That wasn’t the only 185-pound fight that took place that night, however, as Tim Kennedy won his first promotional fight against Roger Gracie and Mark Munoz was able to get back on the map with a decision victory over Tim Boetsch. Munoz had been a longtime top-10 middleweight until he ran into the train that is Weidman. With the victory, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” is right back in the thick of things in what now could be a wide open middleweight division. The key match-up in August is a fight between TUF alum Uriah Hall and John Howard at UFC on Fox Sports 1. Howard returns to the Octagon after being released by the promotion back in 2011. “Doomsday” is replacing Josh Samman, who was replacing Nick Ring. For whatever reason, despite losing The Ultimate Fighter 17 title to Kelvin Gastelum, it appears as though nobody wants to fight Hall, which makes sense given the way that he tore through the house on the reality series. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from the defeat to Gastelum.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Anderson Silva at No. 2: “Silva’s confidence got the better of him against Weidman, but can the Brazilian rebound and get his belt back? We’ll find out in December.”
Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    Lawler proved that his victory over Josh Koscheck wasn't a fluke, and now deserves a top ten opponent in his next fight (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

It was hyped as a fight where the winner could get the next title shot against the winner of Georges St-Pierre’s fight with Johny Hendricks, but the co-main event at UFC on Fox 8 turned out to be more of a stinker than a barnburner. When it was all said and done, Rory MacDonald emerged victorious over Jake Ellenberger. However, “Ares” didn’t gain any ground in our rankings as a result of the victory, nor did he in the court of public opinion. He won the fight, but didn’t do anything that proved that he is ready for the next title shot. Because of that, plus the fact that he is training partners with the champion, the seat that holds the next No. 1 contender is wide open. Carlos Condit takes on Martin Kampmann at the end of August on the second UFC card to air on Fox Sports 1. “The Natural Born Killer” has lost his last two, but they were against the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked fighters. Meanwhile, Kampmann also lost his last fight to Hendricks. Ben Askren successfully defended his Bellator title on the last day of the month, easily defeating Andrey Koreshkov. The wrestler completely out-grappled the Russian fighter, taking him down easily and often. With the victory, the 12-0 fighter moved up just one spot, but that might have more to do with the fact that Ellenberger lost moreso than the fact that Askren won. It is going to take more than another dominant wrestling performance by Askren to jump up into the top five.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Rory MacDonald at No. 6: “Rory’s win over Ellenberger firmly puts him at No. 6, but doesn’t move him up yet. Someone in front of him in the rankings will have to lose for that to happen.”
Lightweight
  1. Benson Henderson (1)

    "Showtime" will look to defeat Henderson for the second time in a lightweight title fight at UFC 164 (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

The only top-10 lightweight to see any action in July was Bellator’s champion, Michael Chandler. He took on David Rickels in the main event of Bellator 97 and knocked him out in less than a minute. The victory made him a perfect 12-0 on his career, and it was also his second successful title defense since taking the belt from Eddie Alvarez back in 2011. Although the fight was short, Chandler’s striking display is proof that he truly belongs in the top five. The problem for him is that, considering the four men in front of him, it will be very difficult to move up any higher. In August, the UFC gold will be on the line when Ben Henderson locks horns with Anthony Pettis. The two fighters met at the final WEC card with that promotion’s belt on the line, with Pettis winning a close decision after unleashing the now famous “Showtime Kick”. Without a doubt, “Smooth” has been wanting to erase that loss from his record, and it will be fun to see the two go at it again. There are also two key lightweight match-ups to look out for in August. The first is Joe Lauzon taking on Michael Johnson at UFC Fight Night 26 and the other has Donald Cerrone fighting Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 27. Although Lauzon has never actually cracked the top 10, he has amassed 12 “of the Night” bonuses from the promotion, mostly due to the fact that he rarely is involved in a boring fight. Cerrone has been in and out of the top 10 in the recent months, but he would love to solidify his spot inside the rankings with a victory over dos Anjos.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Michael Chandler at No. 5: “The kid is good. Hopefully Bellator is capable of adding some additional depth at 155 pounds so that Chandler has strong opponents in the years to come.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    "The Answer" returned to the win column with his victory at UFC 162 (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

On Saturday, the UFC featherweight championship will be on the line when Jose Aldo defends his title against Chan Sung Jung. “The Korean Zombie” wasn’t the first choice for No. 1 contender in the match-up—that honor went to lightweight Anthony Pettis. However, an injury to “Showtime” left the door wide open and Jung took the opportunity to step through. The Korean fighter has a chance to do what nobody has been able to do under the Zuffa banner and defeat Aldo. A lot of people thought that Jung jumped the line and that someone like Ricardo Lamas should have received the title shot, but it was the Zombie that got the nod. There were two key featherweight match-ups at UFC 162, where Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson emerged victorious in their respective fights. Neither fighter managed to climb the rankings, however. On the last day of August, Chad Mendes will meet Clay Guida, potentially with a title shot on the line for Mendes. The Team Alpha Male fighter has only one loss on his record, and it came at the hands of the champion. Since the loss, Mendes has gone 3-0 with three knockouts.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Cub Swanson at No. 6: “With each fight, Swanson is making a stronger case for a title shot at 145 pounds. But he’ll likely have to earn one more win before that happens.”
Bantamweight
  1. Renan Barao (1)

    At this point, it's anybody's guess as to when "The Dominator" returns to action (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

With every month that goes by while Dominick Cruz doesn’t defend his title, we can expect him to crawl down the rankings. No. 2-ranked Urijah Faber meets Yuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 26. A victory could warrant another title shot for “The California Kid,” who was unsuccessful at claiming UFC gold against Cruz at UFC 132 and again at UFC 149 against Renan Barao for the interim title. Barao will defend the interim championship against Eddie Wineland in September, but every interim title fight that gets scheduled furthers the log jam at the top of the division. If Faber wins impressively and deserves a title shot, but Cruz returns to action to defend his title against the interim champion, then the Team Alpha Male Fighter would have to wait longer than he should to get his hard-earned crack at gold. Unfortunately, one way or another, the division within the UFC is in a holding pattern until an official decision is made about Cruz and the belt. Also in August, Michael McDonald will meet Brad Pickett in a fight which will put the winner in a strong position within the UFC. McDonald lost his last time out to Barao and Pickett edged out Mike Easton by split decision in his last fight.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Dominick Cruz outside the top 10 at No. 15: “It’s finally time to dismiss Cruz from the top-10 rankings altogether until he returns to action.”
Flyweight
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)

    Johnson slapped this armbar on Moraga late in their fight despite having the fight all but wrapped up on the judges scorecards (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

“Mighty Mouse” proved again that he is the top flyweight fighter in the world when he defeated John Moraga last weekend at UFC on Fox 8. The 125-pounders are often criticized based on their apparent lack of size and strength, but Demetrious Johnson was able to silence the critics, at least temporarily, with a fifth-round submission victory. The question now is who will emerge as the next flyweight contender. Joseph Benavidez may be leading that race, but fighters like Ian McCall and John Lineker are fighting this month. It only took two promotional victories for Moraga to earn his title shot and there may be something similar in store if an impressive victory takes place at UFC 163. Considering he is 0-2-1 in the Octagon, McCall, in fact, may be fighting for his contract at the event. He was brought in from outside the promotion and inserted into the flyweight tournament, but he has yet to emerge victorious while inside the eight-sided cage. Lineker has won two straight fights, with his most recent defeat coming at the hands of Louis Gaudinot in a hard-fought effort. A third victory in a row, especially against 33-3 UFC newcomer Jose Maria Tome, would definitely catch the eye of the people at the UFC offices.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking John Moraga at No. 8: “Even though he lost to the champion, he still showed that he is one of the best in the division and deserves this spot in the top 10.”
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Jon Jones (2)

    The new king of the pound-for-pound division, Jon Jones (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Georges St-Pierre (3)
  3. Anderson Silva (1)
  4. Jose Aldo (4)
  5. Benson Henderson (5)
  6. Demetrious Johnson (7)
  7. Cain Velasquez (8)
  8. Ronda Rousey (9)
  9. Renan Barao (8)
  10. Junior dos Santos (10)

There is a new king of the hill in the world of mixed martial arts. With his loss at the hands of Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva has been ousted from the top spot. A lot of time was spent projecting superfights for “The Spider,” who could have been paired up against Georges St-Pierre or new No. 1, Jon Jones. The loss to Weidman ended all superfight talk, at least in the short term. There have been links to Jones fighting at heavyweight in the UFC, but it is hard to tell if these superfights will ever come to fruition. A victory this weekend for Aldo would give him 16 in a row and could move him ahead of Silva. Demetrious Johnson was able to climb a spot with his victory against Moraga. At this point, the sky is the limit for Mighty Mouse, who looks untouchable at flyweight. If Ben Henderson is able to dispose of Anthony Pettis, he too would have an impressive winning streak and could potentially move up. As hard as it is to imagine, Silva, who was the top pound-for-pound fighter in June, could conceivably be ranked as low as fifth by the end of August, depending on how exactly the cards fall.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Demetrious Johnson at No. 7: “Stud at bantamweight. Undefeated at flyweight. Johnson climbs up the rankings.”

Top Photo: Chris Weidman (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.