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.

See below for our top 10 fighters from each division.

The number in parentheses represents the fighter’s ranking from last month, but has no impact on the current month’s rankings.

  1. Junior dos Santos (1)

    Cain Velasquez (l) will look to avenge the only loss of his career and win back the UFC heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Cain Velasquez (2)
  3. Alistair Overeem (3)
  4. Daniel Cormier (4)
  5. Fabricio Werdum (5)
  6. Frank Mir (6)
  7. Josh Barnett (7)
  8. Shane Carwin (9)
  9. Mark Hunt (10)
  10. Stefan Struve (8)

In the next couple of months, the landscape of the heavyweight division could look drastically different. The big heavyweight fight this month is clearly Junior dos Santos defending his UFC title against Cain Velasquez. The first time they fought it lasted less than a minute and was free for the world to watch on Fox. This time, it headlines a stacked pay-per-view card. Alistair Overeem was recently booked for a fight against Antonio Silva, and that contest is scheduled to take place in February. Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier will fight in separate affairs on the last Strikeforce card, as they take on Nandor Guelmino and Dion Staring respectively. And with Matt Mitrione taking on Roy Nelson at The Ultimate Fighter finale, one of those two big men could sneak their way into the top ten. Ever since UFC 146, the heavyweights have been fairly quiet, but now comes their opportunity to make some noise.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Daniel Cormier at No. 3: “Cormier lost his chance to really make a statement when Mir pulled out of his scheduled bout this month. Cormier will have to wait for his move to the UFC to show his dominance.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    "Shogun's" cardio looked shakey during his last fight, will it be improved for his fight against Alexander Gustafsson? (Alan Oliveira/Sherdog)

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

The light heavyweights were fairly quiet in the month of November, as there were only two UFC fights that took place at 205 pounds, both of which did not include top-ten fighters. A case could have been made for Thiago Silva to be in the conversation following his submission of Stanislav Nedkov; however, with the victory being overturned to a no-contest as a result of Silva testing positive for marijuana metabolites in his post-fight drug test, it makes you wonder if the Brazilian will be around in the UFC much longer. December should be better for the 205ers, as the co-main event at UFC 155 will feature Forrest Griffin taking on Phil Davis and the co-main event of UFC on Fox 5 will have Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fight Alexander Gustafsson. Not only that, but with the turn of the new year, Gegard Mousasi will be officially returning to the cage in Strikeforce’s last card, and Muhammed Lawal will soon be making his debut inside the Bellator cage.

Writer’s take – Paige Berger, ranking Glover Teixeira at No. 8: “This guy is the real deal. He was a beast against a very game Fabio Maldonado and should definitely be looking at a big-name opponent for his next fight. I think he may be the first guy to give Jones a true challenge.”
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    Cung Le landed one of the top knockouts of the year at UFC: Macao (James Law/Heavy MMA)

  2. Chael Sonnen (2)
  3. Vitor Belfort (4)
  4. Michael Bisping (5)
  5. Chris Weidman (3)
  6. Luke Rockhold (6)
  7. Alan Belcher (8)
  8. Brian Stann (9)
  9. Tim Boetsch (7)
  10. Mark Munoz (10)

It’s not that we forgot what Cung Le was capable of, but his knockout of Rich Franklin in China this past month was absolutely outstanding. The striker is known for his big knockouts, only they normally come off of a kick. The former Strikeforce champion was able to land a solid punch which finished Franklin. But as far as activity inside the top ten, the division was stagnant. Tim Boetsch learned that he will face a new opponent at UFC 155, as Chris Weidman was forced off the card and was replaced by Costa Philippou. At the same event, Alan Belcher will take on Yushin Okami, who has struggled as of late and will look to get back on track. All of this, and we have Vitor Belfort versus Michael Bisping to look forward to next month.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Vitor Belfort at No. 2: “Still one of the best middleweights, but his days are numbered.”
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    GSP showed no ill effects of a torn ACL in his title unification victory against Carlos Condit (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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

Ladies and gentlemen, Georges St-Pierre is back. The longtime UFC welterweight champion made his long-awaited return to the cage last month and unified his title with Carlos Condit’s interim belt with a unanimous decision win over the interim champ. The fight was one where if you read the box score, you would have thought that it was dominated by the Canadian, but Condit did enough in the fight to stay competitive, almost finishing the champion at one point in the third. The performance in defeat was enough to allow him to only drop one position to No. 3, as we await exactly what the promotion is planning on doing with him. What GSP does next is uncertain, considering the potential of a superfight against middleweight champion Anderson Silva. However, the champion has a suitor, in Johny Hendricks, who is running through his opponents. The Oklahoman knocked out Martin Kampmann in less than a minute and made it clear that he wants the next shot at welterweight gold. Speaking of gold, as Bellator’s seventh season winds itself down, the promotion will have a new title contender for Ben Askren as Andrey Koreshkov recently won the tournament.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Johny Hendricks at No. 2: “Hendricks made it very clear that he is the No.1 contender with a vicious KO of Martin Kampmann. But will he get to challenge GSP next? Only time will tell.”
  1. Ben Henderson (1)

    If Ben Henderson can defeat Nate Diaz, there is a chance he will have to take on Diaz's teammate Gilbert Melendez next (Sherdog)

  2. Gilbert Melendez (2)
  3. Nate Diaz (4)
  4. Frankie Edgar (3)
  5. Gray Maynard (5)
  6. Donald Cerrone (7)
  7. Anthony Pettis (6)
  8. Michael Chandler (8)
  9. Jim Miller (10)
  10. Clay Guida (9)

In just one week’s time, the UFC lightweight championship will be defended. Ben Henderson will take on Nate Diaz in the first UFC championship to be contested on network television since the first fight between dos Santos and Velasquez nearly a year ago. On the same card, the most recent Ultimate Fighter, Michael Chiesa, will make his return to the cage in a fight against Marcus LeVesseur. Gray Maynard was supposed to fight in December as well; however, an injury has left him on the out of his UFC 155 fight against Joe Lauzon. Jim Miller will be filling in for Maynard and looks to shake off the rust after losing in May against Diaz. One of the biggest questions that lingers for the 155-pounders is what will happen with Gilbert Melendez. Strikeforce wanted him to defend his title for the promotion’s final fight card, but a lingering injury is keeping him out. Should Diaz go on to defeat Henderson next weekend, we would have two Cesar Gracie fighters atop the division, and it would be unlikely that they would want to fight one another. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Writer’s take – Eric Reinert, ranking Gilbert Melendez at No. 3: “Since Melendez will not be able to defend his Strikeforce belt before the promotion closes its doors, he will arrive in the UFC the presumptive No. 1 contender.”
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Marlon Sandro will get his third chance at winning a Bellator tournament when the promotion moves to Spike TV (Brian McKenna/The MMA Corner)

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

Similar to the light heavyweights, the featherweights were quiet in November. Bellator has turned its field of eight fighters for its season-seven tournament into two: Shahbulat Shamhalaev and Rad Martinez. The two will square off later this month, with the winner earning his ticket to fight for Pat Curran’s title. The slickest victory for the featherweights in Bellator, however, may have gone to Marlon Sandro. The Brazilian choked out Dustin Neace in less than three minutes at Bellator 81, and it was confirmed by Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney that Sandro would be in the next featherweight tournament. Not even knowing the field, Sandro has to be an early favorite to win the tournament, despite falling short twice already in his Bellator career. The most impressive victory among all the featherweights last month had to go to Pablo Garza, for his victory over Mark Hominick. Sure, Hominick has had a rough go of it as of late, but “The Scarecrow” looked really sharp in defeating the Canadian in Hominick’s own backyard. Notable featherweights that will be in action this month will be Chad Mendes taking on Hacran Dias and Dustin Poirier taking on Jonathan Brookins. All of this action will prepare us for February’s title fight between Jose Aldo and divisional newcomer Frankie Edgar.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Cub Swanson at No. 6: “Cub Swanson has been on a tear recently and could be considered for a title fight if he can take down a big-name opponent.”
  1. Dominick Cruz (1)

    Ivan Menjivar displayed this beautiful armbar at UFC 154 (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

  2. Renan Barao (2)
  3. Michael McDonald (3)
  4. Urijah Faber (4)
  5. Bibiano Fernandes (6)
  6. Brian Bowles (7)
  7. Brad Pickett (5)
  8. Eddie Wineland (8)
  9. Scott Jorgensen (9)
  10. Mike Easton (10)

With Dominick Cruz out as a result of his torn ACL, it appears as though the UFC is going to have interim champion Renan Barao defend his title. When it comes to having interim champions defend their titles, it has always been a little foggy, but it is nice to see that the promotion is willing to have the interim champ stay active rather than wait out Cruz’s recovery. As far as action inside the cage, the bantamweights had a lighter month too. Ivan Menjivar scored a fantastic armbar victory at UFC 154, but it wasn’t good enough to make his way back into the top ten. A match-up between two top-ten guys is scheduled to happen though, as Brad Pickett and Eddie Wineland will clash at UFC 155. Pickett will be looking to put his name directly in the title picture after what would be his third consecutive victory, but if Wineland has anything to say about it, it will be him looking to string UFC victories together for the first time. Two other fighters ranked right at the edge of the top ten will be in action this month, but not against one another. At UFC on Fox 5, Scott Jorgensen will take on John Albert while Mike Easton goes against Raphael Assuncao.

Writer’s take – Paige Berger, ranking Brad Pickett at No. 5: “Pickett looked great against a bigger, stronger Jabouin. I want to see him and Michael McDonald in a No. 1 contender bout.”
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)

    John Lineker has looked great in his two UFC fights despite only winning one of them (Gleidson Venga/Sherdog)

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

Throughout the major promotions, there was only one flyweight fight, and it took place inside the Octagon. Yasuhiro Urushitani, one of the two fighters who fought in the first-ever UFC flyweight fight, has made history again, this time being the first UFC fighter to lose twice in the flyweight division. One has to figure that the future of the Japanese fighter within the promotion has to be at jeopardy as a result of this; however, the man who defeated him, John Lineker, is sitting in a good place for now. The Brazilian lost his promotional debut against Louis Gaudinot in an impressive fashion. Gaudinot secured the fight-winning choke in the late second round, and the performance won both men the “Fight of the Night” award. This time around, Lineker got the victory, and in a still growing division in the UFC, he has to be considered fairly high within the promotion. December will also be a dormant month for the flyweights, though it will build up into a title fight between champion Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson in January.

Writer’s take – Corey Adams, ranking Jussier da Silva at No. 5: “Even though he was defeated by Dodson, I can’t take ‘Formiga’ out of the top five. He’s still one of the best flyweights in the world.”
  1. Anderson Silva (1)

    It may finally happen, Anderson Silva versus Georges St-Pierre (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

  2. Georges St-Pierre (3)
  3. Jon Jones (2)
  4. Jose Aldo (4)
  5. Junior dos Santos (5)
  6. Dominick Cruz (6)
  7. Ben Henderson (7)
  8. Dan Henderson (8)
  9. Gilbert Melendez (9)
  10. Demetrious Johnson (-)

For a long time, the conversation for who sat atop the pound-for-pound list consisted solely of Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre. With the UFC welterweight champion on the sidelines for a year and a half, Jon Jones crept his way into the conversation and, in these rankings, took over GSP’s spot. Well, after a long-awaited return, the Canadian reclaimed his position inside the top two with his victory over Carlos Condit at UFC 154. Considering Jones isn’t scheduled to fight until April, the top two fighters should stay the same for a while. And speaking of the top two, Silva and St-Pierre have been in the middle of swirling rumors and speculation that a superfight will occur. It is still really early in the developing stages, and there are still many details and logistics to figure out to determine if it is even possible. However, it is a fight that longtime MMA diehards have wanted to see. In December, there are two fighters in the top ten scheduled to fight, as Ben Henderson and Junior dos Santos will defend their respective titles. A loss for either of them would likely drop them from the pound-for-pound rankings.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Georges St-Pierre at No. 2: “Yes, GSP dominated—outside of one Condit head kick—but it’s still hard to move anyone ahead of Anderson Silva.”

Photo: Georges St-Pierre (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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.