The MMA landscape is always in flux with promotions putting on fight cards more frequently than ever. Whether it’s the UFC, Bellator MMA or international promotions like ONE FC, 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 writing staff will rank each weight class from heavyweight to flyweight, as well as the pound-for-pound rankings. The staff’s individual rankings will then be compiled to determine each month’s overall rankings for the entire site. See below for this month’s edition of The MMA Corner’s Fighter Rankings.

Note: The number in parentheses represents the fighter’s ranking from last month.

Heavyweight
  1. Cain Velasquez (1)

    Minakov (l) is the new Bellator heavyweight champion (Bellator)

    Minakov (l) is the new Bellator heavyweight champion (Bellator)

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

After closing off a trilogy in the heavyweight division during the month of October, the UFC hosted zero key heavyweight fights during the month of November inside the Octagon. If you were looking for action north of 206-pounds, you had to tune into Bellator. In its cage, there were two major heavyweight events that took place. The title changed hands when Vitaly Minakov defeated Alexander Volkov in the first round of their title fight. Minakov landed with some solid striking and ultimately earned the TKO victory. He already has his next opponent lined up, as Cheick Kongo took down Peter Graham in the promotion’s heavyweight tournament championship. The two will likely meet for the title next season. There will be two heavyweight fights on the docket in December for the UFC, with Mark Hunt meeting Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Pat Barry taking on Soa Palelei.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Daniel Cormier at No. 4: “Even though he has made it clear that he is moving down to light heavyweight, Cormier is still a top-five heavyweight.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Evans has won two in a row after dropping two straight (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Evans has won two in a row after dropping two straight (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Alexander Gustafsson (2)
  3. Glover Teixeira (3)
  4. Phil Davis (4)
  5. Rashad Evans (5)
  6. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (6)
  7. Gegard Mousasi (7)
  8. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (9)
  9. Chael Sonnen (10)
  10. Ryan Bader (-)

*Dropped out of the rankings: Dan Henderson (8)

The 205-pound division had only a handful of fights throughout November, but the ones that took place had some major headlines behind them. With Vitor Belfort securing the first-round knockout against Dan Henderson, “Hendo” fell from the top 10, and it is up in the air as to whether or not he will ever return. The 43-year old will go down as one of the all-time greats in the sport, but it appears as though Father Time may have caught up with him. Rashad Evans continued his recent winning ways with a first-round TKO of Chael Sonnen. The defeat moved Sonnen’s UFC light heavyweight record to 1-2, and he has said after the loss that he is considering dropping back down to 185 pounds. The question is whether that will happen before or after his upcoming bout with Wanderlei Silva. Both fighters have spent time at 205 and 185, and it will be interesting to see at which weight that fight is contested. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was supposed to meet Tito Ortiz in the Bellator cage, but Rampage ended up knocking out Joey Beltran later in the month after Ortiz was removed from the fight with an injury. There will be two big light heavyweight match-ups on Friday, with Maurico “Shogun” Rua co-main eventing a fight with James Te Huna and Ryan Bader taking on Anthony Perosh.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Jimi Manuwa at No. 8: “Manuwa breaks into the top 10 after going 14-0 and all the wins coming by stoppages.”
Middleweight
  1. Chris Weidman (1)

    The rematch is just weeks away.  Weidman will defend his title for the first time against Silva at UFC 168. (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    The rematch is just weeks away. Weidman will defend his title for the first time against Silva at UFC 168 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Anderson Silva (2)
  3. Vitor Belfort (3)
  4. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (4)
  5. Lyoto Machida (5)
  6. Michael Bisping (6)
  7. Luke Rockhold (7)
  8. Yushin Okami (8)
  9. Tim Kennedy (10)
  10. Mark Munoz (9)

It is the fight that the MMA world has been talking about since July: Chris Weidman will defend his UFC middleweight championship against Anderson Silva later this month. All of Silva’s in-cage antics finally caught up with him when he was knocked out in the second round of their first fight. The speculation behind that fight is that if “The Spider” didn’t goof around, he would have been able to put Weidman away. If the Brazilian enters the fight with that mindset this time, rather than doing what he used to do, he has a chance to prove to people that his loss was indeed a fluke. One way or another, the world will be watching as Silva fights only for the third time in the promotion without having the belt around his waist at the start of the fight. Two other middleweights made a big splash last month. Alexander Shlemenko defended his Bellator title for the second time in season nine, this time against Doug Marshall. Tim Kennedy also proved himself legitimate with a huge knockout against Rafael Natal.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Anderson Silva at No. 1: “Even though Anderson lost to Weidman, I still believe that he is the best middleweight in the world and the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He still won 16 straight fights in the UFC in two different weight classes. If he loses again, then I will re-think this.”
Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    gsp welter ester lin mma fighting

    St-Pierre retained his title by split decision at UFC 167 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Johny Hendricks (2)
  3. Carlos Condit (3)
  4. Ben Askren (4)
  5. Robbie Lawler (9)
  6. Rory MacDonald (5)
  7. Jake Ellenberger (6)
  8. Jake Shields (7)
  9. Demian Maia (8)
  10. Matt Brown (10)

In what may have been the most controversial judges’ decision in the history of the UFC promotion, Georges St-Pierre defended his welterweight championship against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. Two of the three judges scored it for the defending champion, but it appears as though nearly everyone else who watched the fight scored it in favor of the challenger. Based on the reaction of everyone, including UFC President Dana White, it appears as though an immediate rematch is more than desirable. However, that might not come so easy considering what the champion said in the cage during his post-fight interview. The word “retirement” was never uttered by the Canadian, but he said that he is looking to take some time away from the cage. What exactly that means, nobody truly knows, but it may be the last we see of the king of the welterweight division for quite a while. Robbie Lawler made the biggest jump of any fighter in the rankings this month with his split decision victory against Rory MacDonald on the same card. “Ruthless” has had his fair share of peaks and valleys in his career, but it appears as though, at age 31, he has officially found his stride again. He has gone 3-0 in his recent stint with the promotion and defeated the guy who was said to be the next welterweight champion. Speaking of champions, Bellator no longer has a welterweight champion. The belt has been vacated with the release of former champion Ben Askren. “Funky” is currently a free agent and is able to sign with any promotion. In December, the big welterweight clash is between Carlos Condit and Matt Brown on UFC on Fox 9.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Georges St-Pierre at No. 1: “For the first time in years, there are doubts about the legitimacy of GSP’s reign. A rematch with Hendricks is the only fight that makes sense for the Canadian.”
Lightweight
  1. Anthony Pettis (1)

    Diaz (l) punched his way back into the top-10 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Diaz (l) punched his way back into the top-10 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Benson Henderson (2)
  3. Gilbert Melendez (3)
  4. T.J. Grant (4)
  5. Josh Thomson (6)
  6. Eddie Alvarez (8)
  7. Michael Chandler (5)
  8. Nate Diaz (-)
  9. Rafael dos Anjos (9)
  10. Khabib Nurmagomedov (10)

*Dropped out of the rankings: Gray Maynard (7)

After a long and painful legal battle, Eddie Alvarez not only returned to Bellator, but he now wears Bellator lightweight gold around his waist for the second time in his career. He received his rematch with Michael Chandler at Bellator 102 and won the bout by split decision. The first time these two met, it was one of the best fights of the year. The rematch was equally as exciting, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Based on the action, it only feels inevitable that the two will meet again sometime next season. Nate Diaz returned to the top 10 with his first-round knockout of Gray Maynard. The former title contender dropped out of the rankings after losing consecutive fights to Ben Henderson and Josh Thomson, but he exploded back onto the scene with his domination of Maynard. “The Bully” dropped out of the top 10 as a result of the fight. He has gone just 1-3 in his last four, getting knocked out in all three of the defeats. Maynard was as close as you can get to winning the lightweight championship just three years ago, but now it appears as though his future with the promotion may be in jeopardy.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Eddie Alvarez at No. 6: “Alvarez got a huge win and the belt back, solidifying him as the best lightweight outside the UFC.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Bellator has a new featherweight champion with Straus defeating Curran (Bellator)

    Bellator has a new featherweight champion with Straus defeating Curran (Bellator)

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

*Dropped out of the rankings: Dustin Poirier (9)

While it was Robbie Lawler jumping several spots in the welterweight division, it was Pat Curran dropping the most spots after he lost his Bellator featherweight title to Daniel Straus at Bellator 106. The fight was very close in the early rounds, but an illegal knee thrown by Curran to the head of the downed Straus really changed the whole outlook of the fight as “Paddy Mike” had a point taken away from him. The champion didn’t look quite the same after the incident, and the belt was strapped around the waist of the challenger when it was all said and done. After previously holding the No. 2 overall spot, the loss dropped him all the way down to No. 9. As far as the rest of the division is concerned, the month was quiet. In the next couple of months, it doesn’t appear as though there will be a ton of 145-pound action either. The fights will fill the void until Jose Aldo defends his title against Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169 on the first day of February. ONE FC featherweight champion Koji Oishi will put his title on the line against Honorio Banario on Friday.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Daniel Straus at No. 9: “Straus looked great in his title victory over Curran. He’ll need to defend the belt once or twice to climb into the top five, but he’s well on his way.”
Bantamweight
  1. Renan Barao (1)

    Faber will meet McDonald in the co-main event at UFC on Fox 9 (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Faber will meet McDonald in the co-main event at UFC on Fox 9 (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

Simply put, there was no movement in the bantamweight division during November. But that didn’t mean that there wasn’t any action. The featured weight class for men’s fighters on the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter was at 135 pounds. The season wrapped up last month, and it was Chris Holdsworth who emerged victorious from the reality show’s tournament. He was the first overall pick on the men’s side of things, and, with each fight he had on the show, it was evident as to why. Although he wasn’t able to utilize his personal coaches while the show was taping, the skill set that he crafted with Team Alpha Male carried him to the point to where he put himself in the finals. There, he defeated Davey Grant in the second round by rear-naked choke. Holdsworth’s teammate, Urijah Faber, is set to take on Michael McDonald in December in a fight that could see the winner getting a title shot. Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz are set to unify the titles in February, and the winner of that fight could very well see the winner of Faber and McDonald in their next fight.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Bibiano Fernandes at No. 3: “Another victory in ONE FC for Fernandes, but again, I can’t rank him above Barao or Faber. The guy is legit, but his competition in Asia is suspect.”
Flyweight
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)

    Benavidez (l) and Johnson will meet again for the flyweight title (Sherdog)

    Benavidez (l) and Johnson will meet again for the flyweight title (Sherdog)

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

*Dropped out of the rankings: Tim Elliott (9), Jose Maria Tome (10)

In just a few weeks, we will see Demetrious Johnson put his flyweight title on the line once again. And for the second time in his career, he will take on Joseph Benavidez for the title. The two first met for the inaugural flyweight championship at UFC 152, with Johnson taking the split decision victory. Since winning the title, “Mighty Mouse” has defended it twice, while Benavidez has gone 3-0 in the same time frame. On the same card, another big flyweight fight is set to take place with Scott Jorgensen making his move to the division. He was orginially supposed to fight Ian McCall, but an injury to “Uncle Creepy” has cleared the path for the promotion to bring in former Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky. “Fun Size” recently won and vacated the Resurrection Fighting Alliance flyweight title, and now he will be stepping onto the biggest stage of them all for the first time in his career. In November, Ali Bagautinov and Dustin Ortiz won their respective flyweight bouts, with Bagautinov’s victory being good enough to put him into the top 10.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Ali Bagautinov at No. 9: “It wasn’t as convincing as his UFC debut, but Bagautinov’s decision win over Elliott moves him into the top 10.”
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    He may have won, but "GSP" dropped two spots as a result of his fight with Hendricks (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    He may have won, but “GSP” dropped two spots as a result of his fight with Hendricks (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Anderson Silva (2)
  3. Jose Aldo (4)
  4. Georges St-Pierre (3)
  5. Demetrious Johnson (6)
  6. Renan Barao (5)
  7. Cain Velasquez (7)
  8. Anthony Pettis (9)
  9. Ronda Rousey (8)
  10. Chris Weidman (10)

For anyone wondering how close the pound-for-pound rankings are each month, all someone needs to do is look at how the top 10 differs from October. Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre dropped two positions after winning his fight against Johny Hendricks. It may be because a lot of people thought he truly lost the fight, whereas others may have dropped him because he wasn’t as dominant as he normally is. It could be a while before the Canadian climbs back up, depending on exactly how much time he takes off from the sport. The ripple effect that came from GSP’s latest fight shook the rest of the rankings up, with Demetrious Johnson, Renan Barao, Anthony Pettis and Ronda Rousey all affected. These fighters will look to climb in the upcoming months, as they are all set to put their title on the line sometime in the next three months, with the exception of the injured Pettis.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Georges St-Pierre at No. 5: “I might have left GSP at the top of the welterweight ranks, but he plummets here under what should have been a loss to Hendricks.”

Top Photo: Johny Hendricks (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.