Sherdog.com’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Sherdog.com Staff Apr 20, 2017


On both sides of the Kansas-Missouri border, Kansas City has been privy to an awful lot of fantastic and noteworthy mixed martial arts, but on April 15, the Sprint Center played host to the pound-for-pound king of complete combat and obviously, we aren't talking about Harley Race in 1978.

UFC on Fox 24's main event offered no surprises as flyweight ruler Demetrious Johnson, an 11-to-1 favorite by fight time, dominated challenger Wilson Reis every which way before casually armbarring him before the third-round horn. As such, there's no surprise who sits atop the throne in the latest Sherdog.com pound-for-pound top 10. But, just because “Mighty Mouse” notched his UFC record-tying 10th consecutive title defense and did it with ease, don't forget after a largely forgettable first quarter for major MMA in 2017, hope is blossoming this spring and seems likely to heat up as we enter the summer, injuries pending, of course.

Our No. 7, Stipe Miocic, is scheduled to defend his UFC heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos at UFC 211 on May 13, a fight that could engender the rare instance of a heavyweight steadily climbing up the pound-for-pound ranks, as well as firming him up as one of the very best big men in MMA history. Meanwhile, second-ranked Daniel Cormier and our No. 9 Michael Bisping both have upcoming-if-unscheduled bouts against opponents with historic P4P credentials, as Cormier is angling to have his rematch with former pound-for-pound king Jon Jones in late July, while “The Count” is still tentatively lined up to face another “greatest of all time” candidate in Georges St. Pierre in the late summer, early autumn.

You may think “What if Cormier ends up facing Jimi Manuwa? What if GSP doesn't agree on a date soon enough and Yoel Romero faces Bisping instead?” Well, that's fine. We still have two forthcoming bouts, with signatures on the dotted line, featuring P4P entrants squaring off: June 3 in Rio de Janeiro, fourth-ranked Jose Aldo meets our youngest ranker, No. 8 Max Holloway, while the potential “Fight of the Year” on paper between sixth-ranked Robbie Lawler and 10th-ranked “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone is on tap for July 8. Unless the MMA gods intervene, this is the opposite of a cruel summer for the sport.

Read More » Sherdog Divisional Rankings



1. Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1)

In the wake of his 10th straight UFC title defense, tying the greatest middleweight of all time in Anderson Silva, what more is there to say about Demetrious Johnson? Longtime Shooto king Mamoru Yamaguchi might be the first great flyweight in this sport's history, but “Mighty Mouse” has been the historical, global trailblazer for the division for his most recent UFC on Fox outing against Wilson Reis indicate, it's not because he's a magnetic draw. No, Johnson is on top of our list for two specific reasons: he has never lost as a flyweight, going undefeated in his 13 bouts at 125 pounds, on top of the fact that he was a top-five bantamweight prior to dropping to his more natural division and, well, cause Jones is still ineligible for this list at the present time. Since winning his UFC flyweight title, the Kentucky-born, Washington-based fighter has dummied all his top-10 challengers with increasing dominance and efficacy, whether they're simply great fighters like John Dodson or Kyoji Horiguchi, Olympic gold medalists like Henry Cejudo or historically noteworthy fighters like Joseph Benavidez. While he hasn't beat every single top-10 opponent his division could offer, no one doubts he could and would and so now, the drum beats louder than ever for the Matt Hume understudy to jump back up to 135 pounds and rematch Dominick Cruz or tangle with the winner of UFC champ Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw. DJ is already playing with house money, but if he can return to bantamweight and have success, the rich may get richer and one of the greatest may become even greater.

2. Daniel Cormier (19-1)

Yes, the recently retired Anthony Johnson is still grasping at straws, clinging to Daniel Cormier's now-infamous weigh-in towel grab prior to their UFC 210 rematch and for whatever reason despite hanging up his gloves, trying to have Cormier stripped of his UFC light heavyweight title. If you believe Cormier's championship is an illegitimate one, there's a good reason, but it has nothing to do with Anthony Johnson and everything to do with former pound-for-pound king Jon Jones, who soundly handed “DC” his only career loss at UFC 182 in January 2015. Beyond his previously established heavyweight accolades, Cormier is emerging as arguably one of the best 205-pounders ever and if he is forced to settle for a summer title defense against big-punching Brit Jimi Manuwa, it will be another feather from a top-10 challenger he can stick in his hat. But, for better or for worse, “Jonny Bones” will continue to be the prism through which Cormier's career is viewed and so while every title defense, every name the American Kickboxing Academy team captain can put on his hit list matters, none of them individually, or perhaps even together, can vault the 38-year-old to the top of this list or the top of history.

3. Conor McGregor (21-3)

If you were starting to grow tired of the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather Jr. narrative, you've at least been granted a slight reprieve recently as McGregor's recent alleged entanglements have been with luxury car services and Liverpool hotels. While McGregor continues to seek his mega-millions bout with “Money Mayweather,” he's retreated further from the MMA sphere by partying in “The Pool” with his posse and occupying the British and Irish tabloids. Nonetheless, polarity of public opinion be damned, “The Notorious” one has earned his pound-for-pound spot in the most essential way, taking out major names while competing from 145 to 170 pounds. Since making his UFC debut just over four years ago, the Irishman has gone 9-1, avenging his loss to Nate Diaz, toppling elite fighters like Max Holloway, Chad Mendes and Dustin Poirier and brutalizing the two greatest opponents he's ever faced in Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez to become the UFC's first simultaneous two-division champion. McGregor continues to party and pursue the Mayweather showdown, but he is still just five months removed from knocking out Alvarez at Madison Square Garden for 155-pound gold, even if the MMA public continues to grouse over “Mystic Mac” not facing the likes of Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

4. Jose Aldo (26-2)

Jose Aldo is unquestionably the all-time finest featherweight and likely the greatest sub-lightweight MMA fighter ever. He went a decade without losing a single bout and when he did, though it came in a humiliating, 13-second fashion against Conor McGregor, it at least came against a fellow P4P entrant and a historically noteworthy fighter. The Brazilian's lone post-McGregor bout at UFC 200 last July is also a major consideration: while “Scarface” already owned a February 2013 win over former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, it was Edgar's UFC featherweight debut. When the pair rematched last summer, Aldo put on one of the most brilliant, consummate performances of his 12-year career against a version of “The Answer” that had recently ripped through the red-hot featherweight division. Aldo has been at the top -- or near the top -- of the sport for so long that he may seem like a fading legend but he is still just 30 years old and is now heading into one of the most relevant and important fights of his entire career: at UFC 212 on June 3 in his adopted home of Rio de Janeiro, Aldo will seek to unify the UFC featherweight titles with our No. 8 entrant Max Holloway. As is the case with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, the masses will continue to judge the Nova Uniao product by his loss to McGregor, but a win over Holloway would re-affirm Aldo atop the 145-pound class once again while also giving Aldo, at worst, one of the three most significant, meritorious wins of his career.

5. Tyron Woodley (17-3-1)

You don't have to a beloved fighter to be a great fighter and Tyron Woodley is ongoing proof of this. Since his dreadfully languid June 2014 loss to Rory MacDonald, Woodley has gone undefeated, taking out the always sturdy Dong Hyun Kim, Kelvin Gastelum who has gone on to excel at middleweight and Robbie Lawler to take the UFC title, at the peak of Lawler's powers after he had established himself as one of the three best welterweights in MMA history. His pair of successful title defenses over Stephen Thompson may not have thrilled the masses -- certainly, not all Woodley fights get the fans amped up -- but his draw and decision win over “Wonderboy” are still considerable accomplishments given both the general caliber of the 170-pound division and the run that Thompson had put together prior to his title challenges. The world assumed Woodley would sit pat and wait for the winner of the forthcoming Demian Maia-Jorge Masvidal bout, either of whom would make fantastic, worthwhile challengers to his title. However, “The Chosen One” recently stated on social media that he has already started his next training camp, leading many to wonder if something else is in the works for Woodley this summer.

6. Robbie Lawler (27-11, 1 NC)

In spite of an incredible second UFC run in which he captured the promotion's welterweight crown and redefined himself as an all-time great, Lawler is still most remembered for how he lost the UFC 170-pound title in July, falling prey to Tyron Woodley's powerful right hand. That result notwithstanding, the “Ruthless” one has one of the sport's finest records over the last four years. Coming off of a career-changing title loss, the three-time reigning “Fight of the Year” author is not taking any softballs in his return. Initially, Lawler was lined up to face Donald Cerrone at UFC 205 in New York in November, but the former champion said he needed more time to train. For some, it would be an excuse to bypass such a contest, but not for Lawler. Now working under the tutelage of Henri Hooft, Lawler expects to meet Cerrone at UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas. The matchup could give Lawler another milestone win and perhaps make him “Mr. FOTY” for a fourth year in a row.

7. Stipe Miocic (16-2)

Outside of a prime Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, it is hard -- very hard, in fact -- for heavyweights to do too much damage on pound-for-pound lists. The dearth of talent compared to other weight classes and the parity that stems from bigger punching, often less skilled fighters makes it hard to maintain a winning streak over elite opposition. That said, Stipe Miocic is doing an admirable job over the last four years. Since his upset knockout loss to Stefan Struve of all people, Miocic has gone 7-1, taking out Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem, the last five of whom all ended up unconscious. The only blemish in that span for the Ohio native was an intense and competitive 25-minute affair with former UFC champ Junior dos Santos in December 2014, a defeat that Miocic now has the chance to avenge. At UFC 211 on May 13 in Dallas, the pair will rematch. Though it is just Miocic's second title defense, a win over dos Santos would tie him for the most consecutive, successful UFC heavyweight title defenses, help entrench the Strong Style Fight Team product as one of the best big men ever and show that even in a new era, with better talent and more weight classes, heavyweights can still be a part of the P4P conversation.

8. Max Holloway (17-3)

Max Holloway is emblematic of both how good the featherweight division has become over the last two to three years, as well as why folks bother to cobble together P4P lists in a sport where “pound-for-pound is a stupid concept!” is a familiar refrain. In 2013, a 21-year-old Holloway lost consecutive bouts to Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor. Since then, it's been 10 straight wins for the “Blessed” one, including five straight wins over top-10 opposition in Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas and Anthony Pettis. In prizefighting, people typically look for championship belts to assess who is truly great, and while he does have a UFC interim title trinket, Holloway is a reminder that in an outstanding division, there's but a single No. 1, but there can be multiple great fighters. At just 25 years old, our youngest P4P entrant now stands on the doorstep of history, as he will meet the greatest featherweight ever, Jose Aldo, in hostile Rio de Janeiro territory at UFC 212 on June 3. A win would not only make the Hawaiian the full UFC 145-pound champion but firmly install him among MMA's top five fighters.

9. Michael Bisping (30-7)

We will not shy away from sharing a sentiment we have expressed since Bisping joined this list as UFC middleweight champion: At 38 years old and still suffering from the impact of a detached retina, it amazes us as much as it does you. Nonetheless, Bisping has run through C.B. Dollaway, Thales Leites, Anderson Silva, Luke Rockhold and Dan Henderson in his last five appearance. Given that his first title defense came against a 46-year-old Henderson -- legend or not -- it is fair to critique Bisping's reign with some skepticism. However, “The Count's” next move is much harder to peg and far more difficult to define: Bisping has vowed later this year to defend his 185-pound throne against perhaps the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time, Georges St. Pierre, despite the fact that "Rush" has been away from the sport for nearly four years. However, no date has been set, prompting questions about whether or not “The Ultimate Fighter 3” winner will wind up facing rightfulo. 1 challenger Yoel Romero before a meeting with St. Pierre can take place.

10. Donald Cerrone (32-7, 1 NC)

Cerrone's career is largely marked by his big-fight failures, be it Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos or Jorge Masvidal. Even so, “Cowboy” is not just one of MMA's most dynamic fighters but one of its most accomplished. The 34-year-old Cerrone is one of this sport's most active competitors and he is does it in MMA's two best divisions, lightweight and welterweight. After proving himself as a top-three fighter at 155 pounds, Cerrone blew his December 2015 UFC title challenge against dos Anjos and then moved up to 170. The Jackson-Wink MMA product ripped through Alex Oliveira, Patrick Cote, Rick Story and Matt Brown before ultimately falling to Masvidal in January. Losses matter, but prizefighting is a realm defined by “Who did you beat and how did you beat them?” Cerrone, who averages four UFC bouts a year, intuitively grasps that concept. Above and beyond that, Cerrone can earn perhaps the biggest win of his career next time out, as he figures to face former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler on July 8 at UFC 213 in Las Vegas.

Comments

Comments powered by Disqus
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>