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)

    Your next contender for the UFC heavyweight title (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Your next contender for the UFC heavyweight title: Fabricio Werdum (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

Dropping out of the rankings: Daniel Cormier (10)

In the feature heavyweight fight of the month, Fabricio Werdum took a unanimous decision victory over Travis Browne in a fight dominated by the Brazilian. Werdum controlled the pace during the entire fight, and he assured himself the next shot at the title as he moved up in the rankings to the No. 2 position, right behind the champion, Cain Velasquez.  The two are scheduled to lock horns at UFC 180 in November, after they coach opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America.  It may be the end of an era for another UFC heavyweight. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira suffered another loss, this time to Roy Nelson by first-round knockout.  The legend has looked like a shell of his former self, and he needs to take a long look in the mirror and determine if he wants to continue his career and put his health on the line.  Meanwhile, the victory sprung “Big Country” into the top 10 for the first time in a long while.  Bellator champion Vitaly Minakov defeated Cheick Kongo by unanimous decision at Bellator 115.  The Russian controlled most of the fight and won big on the scorecards despite having a point deducted in the first round of the fight.  Minakov will learn who he fights next at the Bellator pay-per-view, where Alexander Volkov, the man from whom Minakov took the title, fights Blagoi Ivanov to be the next title contender.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Travis Browne at No. 4: “There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Browne looked awful against Werdum. His one saving grace is that the heavyweights below him have either lost to him or don’t deserve a bump for some other reason.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    "Rumble" made his mark with a dominant win over Davis (Lucas Noonan/WSOF)

    “Rumble” made his mark with a dominant win over Davis (Lucas Noonan/WSOF)

  2. Alexander Gustafsson (2)
  3. Rashad Evans (5)
  4. Daniel Cormier (6)
  5. Glover Teixeira (3)
  6. Anthony Johnson (-)
  7. Phil Davis (4)
  8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (7)
  9. Dan Henderson (9)
  10. Chael Sonnen (8)

Dropped out of the rankings: Ryan Bader (10)

It was business as usual for Jon Jones, who again defended the UFC light heavyweight championship. This time, it was Glover Teixeira on the opposite end of things. The Brazilian was overwhelmed throughout the entire fight.  The victory for Jones sets up a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson, the fighter who nearly took the title from the champion at UFC 165. But it wasn’t the victory for “Bones” at UFC 172 that everyone was talking about. That spotlight was stolen by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, who dominated Phil Davis through all three rounds of their fight. Formerly a welterweight, Rumble had struggled many times to make the 170-pound limit and even the middleweight limit of 185 pounds, which led to his release from the promotion back in 2012. He made the necessary adjustments to become a light heavyweight while fighting outside the UFC and returned to the Octagon in a fantastic way. There are two key 205-pound fights scheduled in May. Daniel Cormier will have his second light heavyweight scrap as he battles Dan Henderson at UFC 173. This test should prove harder than the last one that “DC” had to pass. The other big fight will take place in the Bellator cage, where Quinton “Rampage” Jackson battles Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal at the Bellator pay-per-view to determine the next fighter to challenge for the Bellator title.  But that won’t be the only 205-pound match-up at that event. Middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko will move up a weight class to meet Tito Ortiz in Ortiz’s promotional debut. The light heavyweight division also says goodbye to a legend of the sport who has officially hung up the gloves and walked away. The first and only IFL light heavyweight champion, Vladimir Matyushenko, announced before his fight at Bellator 116 that it would be his last outing. The collective mixed martial arts community proudly let one of the finest members of the crew exit the stage with as much honor and respect as can be bestowed upon a fighter.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Anthony Johnson at No. 6: “Welcome back, Rumble. Johnson outclassed Davis in every aspect, earning a lopsided decision win in his UFC return.”
Middleweight
  1. Chris Weidman (1)

    Kennedy scored the biggest victory of his UFC career as he took down Bisping (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Kennedy scored the biggest victory of his UFC career as he took down Bisping (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

Tim Kennedy really showed the world what he was made of when he beat Michael Bisping at The Ultimate Fighter: Nations finale. Since being acquired in the purchase of Strikeforce, Kennedy has gone 3-0 inside the Octagon, but the first two tests were against lesser opponents. Getting a fight with a high-ranked fighter like “The Count” was the first challenge, and defeating him in a commanding fashion was the next. As a result, the soldier was bumped up one spot in the rankings to the No. 7 position. Another former Strikeforce fighter, Luke Rockhold, scored a big victory at UFC 172, where he was able to submit Tim Boetsch in the first round. It was another strong step made by the American Kickboxing Academy product, and he took to the microphone after the fight to make a couple of requests: a rematch with Vitor Belfort or a fight to settle a dispute with Bisping. The UFC crowned a new TUF champion this month. Elias Theodorou was able to defeat Sheldon Westcott to become the 185-pound winner on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations.  The Octagon will return to Germany this month with a headlining fight between Mark Munoz and Gegard Mousasi.  The next contender for Bellator’s middleweight title will be determined, as well, when Brett Cooper and Brandon Halsey fight at Bellator 119 to see who takes on Shlemenko next.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Michael Bisping at No. 10: “Bisping is just barely holding on to a top-10 spot after a long layoff and then looking poor in an upset loss.”
Welterweight
  1. Johny Hendricks (1)

    Douglas Lima claimed Bellator gold (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

    Douglas Lima claimed Bellator gold (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

  2. Robbie Lawler (2)
  3. Rory MacDonald (3)
  4. Ben Askren (4)
  5. Georges St-Pierre (5)
  6. Tyron Woodley (8)
  7. Carlos Condit (7)
  8. Jake Ellenberger (6)
  9. Matt Brown (10)
  10. Hector Lombard (9)

The Bellator welterweight title is no longer vacant. Douglas Lima crushed Rick Hawn en route to capturing the title. Lima was able to utilize his dangerous leg kicks early and often, and ultimately left Hawn without the ability to stand in just the second round of their bout. Lima now looks to start his own reign over the division, following in the footsteps of previous champion Ben Askren, who dominated during his own long reign. Chad Laprise became the latest 170-pound TUF winner when he took a split decision over Olivier Aubin-Mercier at the Finale. The coaches on the season also squared off that night, and Patrick Cote made it a clean sweep of the show when he defeated Kyle Noke by decision. Matt Brown will look to take another step towards earning a title shot when he takes on Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 40. Brown is currently riding a six-fight winning streak, and another victory could just be enough to do it. Meanwhile, recent contender Robbie Lawler will get right back into things at UFC 173 against Jake Ellenberger later this month. If Lawler is able to emerge victorious, it could set up a rematch with champion Johny Hendricks. The two had an amazing fight earlier this year, but Lawler came up short.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Ben Askren at No. 4: “I go back and forth on Askren, but there is no question he is one of the best wrestlers in MMA. He will need to continue to prove that he has other skills if he wants to keep this spot.”
Lightweight
  1. Anthony Pettis (1)

    "The Eagle" is flying high, and is currently one of the most feared fighters at 155-pounds (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    “The Eagle” is flying high. He is currently one of the most feared fighters at 155 pounds (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

Dropping out of the rankings: Rafael dos Anjos (10)

UFC on Fox 11 saw two key victories for lightweight fighters. Khabib Nurmagomedov controlled the entire fight against Rafael dos Anjos, ending the Brazilian’s five-fight winning streak and improving his own record to 22-0 in the process. His resume has never looked better, and it is only a matter of time until “The Eagle” gets his chance at gold. It was a classic performance for “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone, who again used his striking to set up a submission victory. Edson Barboza was the victim this time. The two men were trying to gauge each other’s range when Cerrone dropped the Brazilian with a jab, dove on the vulnerable opponent and choked him out. There was also another strong performance from Jim Miller. He, too, choked out his opponent, Yancy Medeiros. The victory could once again spring the New Jersey native into the top 10. The big lightweight fight of May pits Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez against his nemesis, Michael Chandler. The first two fights between Alvarez and Chandler were amazing performances, which just goes to highlight the upcoming trilogy fight between the two in the main event at the Bellator pay-per-view.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking T.J. Grant at No. 6: “Grant’s long layoff is finally allowing more active fighters to move ahead of him in my rankings.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    With a victory in May, Green (l) will earn a Bellator title shot (Bellator)

    With a victory in May, Green (l) will earn a Bellator title shot (Bellator)

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

Tatsuya Kawajiri may know what it’s like to be a big fish in a small pond, but now he knows what it is like to be a small fish. Kawajiri tore it up on the Asian circuit, finding success in Pride, Dream and ONE FC. He made his UFC debut in January, defeating Sean Soriano with relative ease.  But his second fight against Clay Guida didn’t go so well for “Crusher.” Guida took all three rounds on all three judges’ scorecards to capture the victory. These growing pains will happen when fighters reach the UFC, but it will be interesting to see where Kawajiri goes from here. Dustin Poirier made it three wins in a row with the TKO victory over Akira Corassani in April. The losses that he had suffered against Chan Sung Jung and Cub Swanson caused him to drop down the rankings, but he is slowly working his way back up. This month, we will see Daniel Weichel take on Desmond Green in the featherweight tournament finals. The winner of that contest will receive a guaranteed title shot down the road.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Tatsuya Kawajiri at No. 9: “The loss to Guida was a big setback for the ‘Crusher.’ But the good news for the Japanese fighter is that he showed he can compete against the division’s top 10.”
Bantamweight
  1. Renan Barão (1)

    Barao will be at it again in May, this time against Dillashaw (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Barão will be at it again in May, this time against Dillashaw (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Urijah Faber (2)
  3. Bibiano Fernandes (3)
  4. Michael McDonald (4)
  5. Raphael Assuncao (5)
  6. T.J. Dillashaw (6)
  7. Eddie Wineland (7)
  8. Eduardo Dantas (8)
  9. Dominick Cruz (9)
  10. Marlon Moraes (10)

Renan Barão will again put his title on the line against a Team Alpha Male fighter when T.J. Dillashaw steps in the Octagon to oppose him. The Brazilian has not lost since 2005 and is a perfect 7-0 within the promotion. On the other side of things, Dillashaw had his first professional fight in 2010. He is 5-2 in his time inside the Octagon. There is no doubt that Barão will be a big favorite heading into the fight, but never say never, because the American will likely try to control the fight using his strong wrestling game. That won’t be the only title fight in May. Joe Warren will battle Rafael Silva for the Bellator interim championship. Warren is the promotion’s former featherweight champion, and he has returned to championship form by earning the title shot in the season-nine tournament. Since champion Eduardo Dantas is out with an injury, it will be Silva, who won the 2013 Summer Series tournament, taking on Warren for the interim belt instead.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Renan Barão at No. 1: “The champion will again defend his title against a Team Alpha Male fighter, and hopes for a similar result in this contest.”
Flyweight
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)

    Benavidez's slick submission boosted him back in to the No. 2 position (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Benavidez’s slick submission boosted him back into the No. 2 position (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Joseph Benavidez (3)
  3. John Dodson (2)
  4. Ian McCall (4)
  5. Zach Makovsky (5)
  6. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (6)
  7. Ali Bagautinov (8)
  8. Darrell Montague (7)
  9. John Moraga (9)
  10. John Lineker (10)

It is rare when a fighter gets put into a submission from which they are physically unable to tap out with one of their hands. Joseph Benavidez was able to do just that when he put Tim Elliott in a guillotine choke where “Joe B” wrapped his legs around the body of Elliott, forcing him to squirm around and ultimately tap out with his feet. It was a big victory for the Team Alpha Male fighter, who returned to his wining ways after being knocked out by champion Demetrious Johnson in his last outing. In order for Benavidez to get another shot at the title, he will need more performances like that, but only against even tougher opponents. Meanwhile, Johnson has a new challenger for his title. That man is Ali Bagautinov, who will vie for the belt at UFC 174. The Russian holds a perfect 3-0 record inside the Octagon and has done enough to impress the higher ups to earn the title shot.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Joseph Benavidez at No. 2: “Benavidez and Dodson might as well just share the No. 2 honor for now, but Benavidez’s impressive win over Elliott gives him the temporary edge.”
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Ever since Anderson Silva first lost to Chris Weidman, Jones has reigned as the king of the sport (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Ever since Anderson Silva first lost to Chris Weidman, Jones has reigned as the king of the sport (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

Any time the top-ranked fighter in the pound-for-pound rankings fights, it is always an interesting proposition. A loss for Jon Jones would have opened the door for the next guy, and the gap between Jose Aldo, Demetrious Johnson and Renan Barão is razor-thin. With the successful title defense, though, “Bones” remains at the top of the mountain, but the three aforementioned fighters will continue to nip at his heels. One of those fighters, Barão, defends his belt in the coming month when he battles Dillashaw. The Brazilian will look to leap up a spot or two with a victory at UFC 173.

Writer’s take – Kyle Symes, ranking Cain Velasquez at No. 2: “If you go with the idea of pound-for-pound being about who would win without weight classes, which is what it should mean, there’s no reason Cain Velasquez shouldn’t be near the top.”

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.