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.

  1. Cain Velasquez (1)

    Velasquez defeated dos Santos in the rubber match of their trilogy at UFC 166 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Velasquez defeated dos Santos in the rubber match of their trilogy at UFC 166 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

In what was the biggest fight in October, Cain Velasquez successfully defended his title against Junior dos Santos. Although “Cigano” got his fair share of good shots in throughout the bout, Velasquez dominated the fight all the way up until the finish in the fifth round. Despite the victory, the Brazilian is still manages to find a home at the No. 2 spot. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he has crushed all other competition, and even though he has lost to the champion twice, he is the only man on the planet to have defeated him as well. Right now, the only other heavyweight vying for the No. 1 contender spot would be Daniel Cormier, but after his win over Roy Nelson at UFC 166, he declared his intent to drop to light heavyweight. If it weren’t for the fact that Cormier and Velasquez were teammates, the two would have a clear path to fight each other. However, that is a major pothole in the road for that story. At this point, it is anyone’s game as far as who will get the next crack at the title, but be sure to keep an eye on the December match-up between Travis Browne and Josh Barnett, which could determine the next suitor.

Writer’s take – Richard Wilcoxon, ranking Daniel Cormier at No. 2: “It is a shame Cormier trains with Cain and will drop down in weight, because he has solidified his position as the second best heavyweight.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    "King Mo" fights for the interim light heavyweight title on Saturday (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    “King Mo” fights for the interim light heavyweight title on Saturday (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

*Dropped out of the rankings: Lyoto Machida (4)

In what was going to be the main event of the first-ever Bellator pay-per-view event, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was set to take on Tito Ortiz. It was a fight that the promotion’s brass felt that longtime MMA fans would be willing to spend their cash on, but the house of cards came tumbling down after the fight had to be taken off of the event due to an injury to Ortiz. Instead, Jackson has been shifted to Bellator 108 and a fight with Joey Beltran. Beltran fought in October for the UFC, but was handed his walking papers after losing to Fabio Maldonado. In his last five fights in the UFC, “The Mexicutioner” went 0-4-1, which validates the promotion’s decision to cut him. On the same card, Thiago Silva defeated Matt Hamill. Silva has always been an impressive light heavyweight, but he has struggled with weight cuts, marijuana and falsifying urine samples. If he straightens out his ways, he could easily break into the top 10. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal may return to the top 10 if he wins the interim light heavyweight championship fight at Bellator 106 this Saturday. Lawal will rematch Emanuel Newton, who handed Lawal the only loss of his Bellator career.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Alexander Gustafsson at No. 2: “I believe that ‘The Mauler’ beat Jones and should be the UFC champion. However, I still think that he is the second best light heavyweight in the world.”
  1. Chris Weidman (1)

    Machida cataputed himself right into the mix at 185-pounds with his victory over Munoz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Machida cataputed himself right into the mix at 185-pounds with his victory over Munoz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

*Dropping out of the rankings: Hector Lombard (10)

With a first-round knockout of Mark Munoz, Lyoto Machida put the rest of the middleweight division on high alert. The former light heavyweight champion dropped to middleweight and landed a nasty head kick to Munoz, knocking him out in the process. Normally when a fighter wins their debut fight in a new weight class, they enter into the bottom half of the rankings at best, but the Brazilian jumped straight to the top half at No. 5. Fighters normally don’t like matching up against “The Dragon” based on his counter-attack style, but after the performance he put on against Munoz, it would be surprising to hear someone call him out. Whereas Machida dropped down a weight class, fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort will move up to light heavyweight for his next fight Belfort will take on Dan Henderson in a rematch of their 2006 fight in Pride. In November, the UFC will hold its third Fight for the Troops card. Headlining that event will be Tim Kennedy, who takes on Rafael Natal. Kennedy looked strong in his UFC debut in July, but this will be his chance to really show the world what he is capable of.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Lyoto Machida at No. 4: “Machida was a top-five light heavyweight before dropping to 185 pounds. A win over a top-10 middleweight in his debut is enough to immediately launch him into the realm of the division’s elite.”
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    Shields derailed the Maia hype train with his split decision victory (Alan Ribeiro de Oliveira/Sherdog)

    Shields derailed the Maia hype train with his split decision victory (Alan Ribeiro de Oliveira/Sherdog)

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

*Dropping out of the rankings: Martin Kampmann (9)

This month will feature the welterweight title fight between Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks. GSP has been the longtime king of the welterweight division, but “Big Rig” has been on a tear as well, even defeating some of the same fighters that the champion has taken out. Both men defeated former interim champion Carlos Condit, plus Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch. One of the big things that has caused the champion to be so dominant is his wrestling game, but how will it stack up against that of Hendricks, who holds two national championship collegiate wrestling titles to his name along with being a four-time All-American? If there was one person out there that could give St-Pierre a fit in the wrestling game, it is Hendricks. Normally, this is where the champion would flip the script and use his striking attack to seal the deal, but anyone who has watched the Oklahoman fight knows that he is capable of a quick knockout with his heavy hands. In other championship news, Steve Carl became the first champion in the history of the World Series of Fighting as he choked out Josh Burkman at WSOF 6. It was a closely contested battle until the fourth round, when Carl was able to slap the winning triangle choke on Burkman. The fight of the month at 170 pounds, however, had to go to Jake Shields and Demian Maia. The Brazilian came in riding a three-fight winning streak at his new home at welterweight, but that streak was spoiled by his opponent. Shields has spent recent time at both welterweight and middleweight, and it feels like he will stay at 170 after his split decision victory.

Writer’s take – Kyle Symes, ranking Jake Shields at No. 10: “He may break the top 10, but it’s not like he’s blowing anyone away with his wins.”
  1. Anthony Pettis (1)

    Chandler will defend his title against Alvarez at Bellator 106 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Chandler will defend his title against Alvarez at Bellator 106 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

At Bellator 106, Michael Chandler will take on Eddie Alvarez for the Bellator lightweight strap in what is the new main event of the evening. Chandler took the title from Alvarez back in 2011 in one of the best fights of the year. He has successfully defended it twice since. This particular rematch is one that the folks at Bellator have likely wanted to see for quite some time, but legal issues between Alvarez and the promotion put the fighter on the sidelines for over a year. Fans who are unfamiliar with either fighter are in for a treat this Saturday night. Within the Octagon, Gilbert Melendez went to war with Diego Sanchez at UFC 166, with Melendez coming out on top by decision. Melendez and Sanchez engaged in an all-out striking war, but Melendez did much of the significant damage. To round out November, The Ultimate Fighter season-five competitors Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz will meet at the TUF 18 finale card. In the show’s semifinals, Diaz defeated Maynard, but the two met again in 2010 and it was Maynard emerging victorious the second time, leaving this as an interesting rubber match.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Gilbert Melendez at No. 3: “Melendez put on a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate with Diego Sanchez and made a strong case for the next title shot after Josh Thomson.”
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Can "Paddy Mike" ever take over Jose Aldo for the No. 1 spot? (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Can “Paddy Mike” ever take over Jose Aldo for the No. 1 spot? (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

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

It was a quiet month for the featherweights, with only one of the top 10 fighters taking part in any action, but there will be one key bout going on in November. No. 2-ranked Pat Curran takes on Daniel Straus for the Bellator title this Saturday at Bellator 106. Curran has been one of the more active Bellator champions, defending his title twice with the third defense on the way. It is rare that a fighter outside of the UFC is ranked so highly, but Curran has the resume to back it up. Prior to his recent dominance at 145 pounds, he won a Bellator tournament at lightweight. Because of this, he is a bigger featherweight than most and has a tendency to hit like a lightweight, which gives him a number of advantages inside the cage. Don’t look for him to pass Jose Aldo any time soon, even if he successfully defends his title this weekend.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Tatsuya Kawajiri at No. 4: “Finally, ‘Crusher’ is coming to the UFC. The Japanese veteran should contend immediately at 145, where he’s yet to taste defeat.”
  1. Renan Barao (1)

    Fernandes unified the titles to become the outright ONE FC featherweight championship (Dean Marchand/Sherdog)

    Fernandes unified the titles to become the outright ONE FC featherweight championship (Dean Marchand/Sherdog)

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

The main event at ONE FC 11 was a title unification bout between interim champion Bibiano Fernandes and champion Soo Chul Kim. Fernandes emerged victorious by unanimous decision and exited the cage as the unified champion. The Brazilian may be the best fighter on the planet that is not employed by Zuffa, and because of that he may have hit his ceiling as far as rankings are concerned. Considering the quality of opponent that he is seeing in Asia versus what he would find inside the Octagon, it hurts his status to where he is at the point where he may only climb the rankings if those around him lose. Another title unification bout is officially scheduled to happen, this time in the UFC. Champion Dominick Cruz will meet interim champion Renan Barao at UFC 169. Cruz has been on the shelf for over a year now due to injuries, leaving Barao to defend his interim title two times while waiting for Cruz’s return. When “The Dominator” was healthy, he was crushing the competition. Considering how long he has been out of the game, though, he will have a lot of ring rust to deal with, which begs the question as to how he will look when he returns to action.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Raphael Assuncao at No. 5: “With his win over T.J. Dillashaw, Assuncao may have established himself as the next title challenger at 135 pounds.”
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)
    Dodson handled [fighter] easily at UFC 166 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

    Dodson handled Montague easily at UFC 166 (Ester Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Joseph Benavidez (2)
  3. John Dodson (3)
  4. Ian McCall (4)
  5. Darrell Montague (5)
  6. Jussier da Silva (6)
  7. John Lineker (8)
  8. John Moraga (7)
  9. Tim Elliott (10)
  10. Jose Maria Tome (9)

Although the 125ers were fairly dormant in October, the UFC flyweight title will be on the line in November. The title fight will be a rematch of the inaugural flyweight title bout between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. Their first fight went to the judges’ scorecards and ended up being a closely contested split decision. The judges gave the nod to Johnson, and he has gone on to defend his title two times since then. Not being one to talk his way into another title shot, Benavidez has won three fights, two of which came against top-10 opponents. Letting his action do the talking for him convinced UFC matchmakers to give him another crack at the gold. The fight takes place as the main event at the TUF 18 finale at the end of November.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking John Dodson at No. 3: “Dodson’s win over Montague is enough to allow him to leapfrog over McCall and into the No. 3 spot.”
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Although he dropped a spot, GSP could quickly return to No. 2 next month (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

    Although he dropped a spot, GSP could quickly return to No. 2 next month (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

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

* Dropping out of the top ten: Junior dos Santos (10)

Ever since Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva in July, the pound-for-pound rankings have been razor tight. Depending on how the dust settles off of each of our writers’ new top 10, a couple of feathers here and there are rustled as fighters move up or down accordingly. Normally, the effects are minor, but with “Cigano” losing, he dropped from the No. 10 position out of the top 10, shaking up a number of the rankings in the mean time. Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre puts his title on the line this month and could regain the No. 2 position with a victory, a win that would mark his 12th straight and eighth straight title defense. With such impressive numbers like that in the “what have you done for me lately?” world that we live in, a win could be enough to get back to No. 2. The same goes for flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, who also fell a spot and defends his title this month. Sure, “Mighty Mouse’s” resume isn’t as impressive as that of GSP, but it is definitely impressive in its own right.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Cain Velasquez at No. 7: “Velasquez cemented his place in the pound-for-pound rankings with another dominant win over dos Santos.”

Top Photo: Cain Velasquez (Ester 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.