Sherdog.com’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Sherdog.com Staff Jan 3, 2016



What is it going to take for someone to put away Robbie Lawler?

Johny Hendricks couldn’t do it, and it cost “Bigg Rigg” his UFC welterweight belt. Rory MacDonald came up short in two tries, though he came close in July. Now, Carlos Condit can be added to the list of names that have put on sterling performances and still failed to halt the man whose toughness is being spoken about with near-mythical reverence in MMA circles.

The main event of UFC 195 saw Condit land nearly twice as many significant strikes as Lawler while almost tripling the champion’s number of strikes attempted. As anyone who watched will attest, however, not all significant strikes are created equal, and the brick-fisted Lawler appeared to do nearly as much damage to Condit in a blistering fifth round as the challenger had in the previous four.

Lawler captured a split decision after 25 minutes, proving once again that he is a hard man to beat on the judges’ scorecards -- a serious problem for opponents who lack the necessary tools to crack the Illinois native’s jaw. (Sledgehammer? Baseball bat?) It has now been five years and 13 fights since Lawler was last finished -- a submission loss at middleweight against Ronaldo Souza -- and nearly 12 years since he was knocked out by Nick Diaz at UFC 47.

Owing to his seemingly endless grit and the murderer’s row of welterweights over which he has prevailed since rejoining the UFC, Lawler moves up two spots to No. 8 in this edition of Sherdog’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Related » Sherdog Divisional Rankings


1. Jon Jones (21-1)

Jones has been out of commission since January 2015 after being suspended by the UFC and stripped of his light heavyweight title, but it has done little to diminish his status as the world’s premier mixed martial artist. Prior to his well-documented legal troubles, Jones was riding roughshod over the 205-pound class and had defended the belt a division-record eight times. Now reinstated, the 28-year-old continues to train and has also taken up powerlifting while he awaits his return, which is expected to come in the first half of 2016. When he does re-enter the Octagon, Jones will be headed for a rematch with nemesis Daniel Cormier, who now holds the belt which “Bones” never lost in the cage.

2. Rafael dos Anjos (25-7)

It took a full five rounds for dos Anjos to wrest the UFC lightweight title from Anthony Pettis, but the new champ’s first defense lasted nowhere near as long. Dos Anjos on Dec. 19 needed only 66 seconds to melt old foe Donald Cerrone with a vicious mixture of strikes, making easy work out of one of the division’s most dangerous contenders. Since 2012, the Brazilian has racked up a remarkable 10-1 run inside the Octagon, his only loss coming against Khabib Nurmagomedov. While that rematch will no doubt materialize once both men are fully healthy, dos Anjos has meanwhile called for a super fight with newly crowned featherweight ace Conor McGregor.

3. Demetrious Johnson (23-2-1)

Johnson continues to reign supreme over the 125-pound division. His latest feat came at UFC 191, where the 29-year-old defended his belt for the seventh time -- Anderson Silva holds the all-time record at 10 -- with a lopsided decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner John Dodson. In a little less than three years as champion, “Mighty Mouse” has taken out all contenders in his weight class, and he has done so in convincing fashion. Johnson will carry a nine-fight winning streak into his next appearance.

4. Luke Rockhold (15-2)

Rockhold made the most of what he believed was an overdue title shot, grabbing the middleweight crown at UFC 194 and handing Chris Weidman his first defeat in the process. The American Kickboxing Academy product put on the performance of his career to slice, pound and eventually finish Weidman in the fourth frame. Since entering the Octagon as the final Strikeforce 185-pound champ, Rockhold has recorded impressive finishes against the likes of Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping , with the only blemish on his 5-1 mark coming in a knockout loss to Vitor Belfort.

5. Conor McGregor (19-2)

McGregor has taken the featherweight class and the MMA world by storm in the two and a half years since he landed in the Octagon. With the spotlight aimed squarely at the Irishman for UFC 194, McGregor cleared the last hurdle to greatness by laying waste to featherweight king Jose Aldo in quick and brutal fashion. The coronation capped a year which saw “Notorious” knock out Chad Mendes and Dennis Siver, all the while garnering media attention to rival that of Ronda Rousey. While it remains to be seen whether McGregor will stick around at 145 pounds or head up to 155, one thing is for sure: All eyes will be on his next bout.

6. Jose Aldo (25-2)

All things must pass, and Aldo’s time as the invincible ruler of the featherweight division came to a shocking conclusion at UFC 194. The only undisputed 145-pound champion the Octagon had ever known was knocked senseless by Conor McGregor in only 13 seconds, slamming shut the book on an era of divisional dominance. As WEC and UFC champion, Aldo bested the likes of Urijah Faber (twice), Frankie Edgar and Kenny Florian. With near-constant injuries keeping “Scarface” out of action for extended stretches, stringing together another such run could prove extremely difficult.

7. Chris Weidman (13-1)

After 13 professional fights without a defeat and two wins over middleweight legend Anderson Silva, the “All-American” finally met his match at UFC 194. Weidman struggled valiantly but could not withstand the punishing ground-and-pound of Luke Rockhold, who snatched away the UFC 185-pound title with a fourth-round stoppage. The 31-year-old New Yorker defended the belt three times -- including a May knockout of former Rockhold foil Vitor Belfort -- before being deposed.

8. Robbie Lawler (27-10, 1 NC)

Lawler could not be more stylistically different from former UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre -- and yet, over the past two years, the new ruler of the 170-pound division has proven similarly impossible to defeat. At UFC 195, the 33-year-old action fighter withstood four rounds of high-output offense from Carlos Condit before finding another gear and nearly wiping out the challenger in the final frame. As in his gold-winning performance against Johny Hendricks, Lawler walked away with a contentious split decision. Scorecards aside, the list of opponents topped by the “Ruthless” one since his 2013 UFC return is one of the toughest schedules any champ has endured: Condit, Hendricks, Matt Brown and Rory MacDonald (twice) have all come up short in their attempts to take out one of the toughest men in combat sports.

9. Daniel Cormier (17-1)

In the year since his failed bid to dethrone Jon Jones, Cormier has claimed the mantle left vacant when his rival was stripped and suspended by the UFC. The 36-year-old became MMA’s de facto light heavyweight ruler when he dismantled Anthony Johnson in May, then followed up with an impressive defense against Alexander Gustafsson in October. Hardware aside, Cormier’s record boasts some impressive names, with victories over former heavyweight champs like Josh Barnett and Frank Mir, plus heavy hitters such as Johnson and Dan Henderson. He figures to have another meeting with the newly reinstated Jones in the near future.

10. Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1)

For years, Werdum was regarded as the best heavyweight grappler in MMA. Since running over Cain Velasquez at UFC 188, the 38-year-old Brazilian is being recognized as the best heavyweight in MMA, period. “Vai Cavalo” is currently on a 6-0 run inside the Octagon, and his outstanding résumé includes wins over divisional icons Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. In order to cement his status as the top big man in the sport, Werdum will have to beat Velasquez again when they rematch at UFC 196 in February.

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