’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Staff Jul 8, 2014

Five years ago, Chris Weidman’s MMA career had only just begun. Today, he is a UFC champion and undeniably one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best.

The former Hofstra University wrestling stud showcased his Ray Longo-honed boxing skills in defending his 185-pound strap against Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 on July 6. Weidman’s hands and legs repeatedly found the mark on his famously elusive opponent, racking up enough points to withstand Machida’s fifth-round comeback attempt and earn a unanimous decision from the judges after five rounds. The victory comes less than one year after he shocked longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva and seven months after he checked a leg kick to snap Silva’s left tibia and fibula. Another Brazilian challenger looks to be in Weidman’s future, as UFC officials have already made mention of a possible showdown with Vitor Belfort.

August was supposed to see another pound-for-pound ace defend his crown, but featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo was forced to withdraw from his UFC 176 main event rematch with Chad Mendes after suffering a shoulder and cervical injury. That match is expected to be rebooked for later this year.

Related: Sherdog Divisional Rankings

1. Jon Jones (20-1)

For the second time in as many fights, “Bones” needed all five rounds to defend his UFC light heavyweight title. Jones’ victory over Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 was far different from his win against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165, however, as the Jackson-Wink MMA product routed his hard-hitting Brazilian challenger for all 25 minutes of their encounter in Baltimore. The win continued Jones’ streak as the winningest 205-pound champion in company history -- now with seven consecutive defenses -- and further cemented his place as the top athlete operating in mixed martial arts today. Up next for the 26-year old is a Sept. 27 rematch with Gustafsson at UFC 178 in Las Vegas.

2. Jose Aldo (24-1)

Aldo’s featherweight title defense at UFC 169 was far from dramatic, which is a testament to his dominance as champion. The Nova Uniao standout had his way with Ricardo Lamas for four rounds, landing multiple punching and kicking combinations, as well as a pair of late takedowns. A final salvo from Lamas in round five was not nearly enough as Aldo had his hand raised for the 17th consecutive time -- including six successful UFC title defenses. The toughest task of the Brazilian’s reign has been staying injury-free, as Aldo recently withdrew from yet another title defense due to injury. Upon his return, Aldo is expected to rematch Team Alpha Male standout Chad Mendes.

3. Cain Velasquez (13-1)

Velasquez removed any doubt relating to the identity of the best heavyweight in the world by administering a brutal beating to Junior dos Santos at UFC 166. The final bout of the trilogy was never really in doubt, as the American Kickboxing Academy ace dominated in the clinch and rarely allowed his opponent any space to unleash his formidable boxing. Velasquez dropped his opponent in the third round and earned the stoppage late in the fifth, where dos Santos finally wilted after hitting his head on the canvas following a failed guillotine attempt. Brazilian submission specialist Fabricio Werdum will get his long-awaited shot at Velasquez this fall when they meet at UFC 180 after coaching on “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America.”

4. Chris Weidman (12-0)

The “All-American” showed his all-around skills with a decisive title defense against ex-light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 175. While Machida was able to tag the Serra-Longo Fight Team representative in the waning moments of their five-round encounter, the work Weidman did with his hands, kicks and takedowns through the first four rounds was more than enough to retain his UFC middleweight title. The New Yorker’s unblemished résumé now includes victories over two of Brazil’s finest fighters -- Machida and Anderson Silva -- and Weidman could soon add a third, as UFC President Dana White has mentioned a potential booking opposite Vitor Belfort.

5. Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1)

The UFC’s flyweight dynamo continues to widen the gap between himself and everyone else at 125 pounds. Gone are the narrow decisions that squeaked “Mighty Mouse” past Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall; in his last three bouts, Johnson has recorded a crushing knockout, an armbar submission and a five-round rout. Ali Bagautinov found himself on the wrong end of that one-sided blowout at UFC 174, where Johnson used his blistering speed to fight circles around his challenger and outscored the Russian nearly four-to-one in significant strikes. While nothing has been confirmed, the apparent top contender to the flyweight belt is John Dodson, against whom Johnson successfully defended the title in January 2013.

6. Anthony Pettis (17-2)

Pettis needed five rounds and the remarkable “Showtime” kick to snatch the WEC belt from Benson Henderson in 2010, but he required far less time to earn his second victory over “Smooth” and become the new UFC lightweight king. In the UFC 164 headliner, Pettis softened his opponent with a series of brutal body kicks and then locked in a fight-ending armbar with 29 seconds left in round one. About the only thing that went wrong for Pettis was a knee injury he suffered while checking a kick. Currently on the mend from surgery, Pettis will coach Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Gilbert Melendez, with the two expected to face off later this year.

7. Anderson Silva (33-6)

Nobody wanted to see Silva’s night end the way it did at UFC 168, as the longtime pound-for-pound king suffered a broken left leg when Chris Weidman checked a kick during the second round of their headlining matchup. The Brazilian underwent emergency surgery following the bout and is expected to make a full recovery. Silva, who turned 39 in April, was victorious in his first 16 UFC appearances before falling to Weidman in consecutive bouts.

8. Johny Hendricks (16-2)

Hendricks fell short in his bid for the UFC welterweight title when he faced Georges St. Pierre in November, but the “Bigg Rigg” made his second opportunity count. By finishing strong in the five-round main event of UFC 171, the 30-year old Oklahoman outlasted and outpointed fellow bruiser Robbie Lawler, claiming the belt vacated by GSP in December. Lawler is just the latest in a series of major scalps for Hendricks, who has picked off big-name 170-pounders from Jon Fitch to Carlos Condit on his way to the throne. There will be no shortage of opposition for Hendricks in the suddenly shaking welterweight ranks; while his next challenger figures to be the winner of Lawler versus Matt Brown, contenders like Rory MacDonald and Hector Lombard are waiting in the wings.

9. Benson Henderson (20-3)

After emerging victorious from extremely close five-rounders with Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson in the past 16 months, Henderson finally took the judges out of the equation and picked up a non-controversial victory. The former UFC and WEC lightweight champion secured his first finish in 11 bouts when he forced Rustam Khabilov to tap to a rear-naked choke on June 7 in Albuquerque, N.M. “Smooth” needs more of the same if he wants a shot at redemption against the man who (twice) took his title, Anthony Pettis, as “Showtime” is currently tied up with Melendez.

10. Gilbert Melendez (22-3)

One bout removed from a narrow and controversial loss to then-lightweight champion Benson Henderson, “El Nino” teamed with Diego Sanchez to produce one of 2013’s most memorable fights at UFC 166. Melendez recently flirted with a move to Bellator before re-signing with the UFC. The former Strikeforce ace will coach opposite UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis on Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” before challenging “Showtime” for the title later this year.


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