The lightweight division has a new king and the bantamweight division has a new queen.
After 12-plus years in the game and only four fights in the Octagon, former Bellator MMA lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez claimed Ultimate Fighting Championship gold, blistering Rafael dos Anjos on July 7 to take the 155-pound crown. Since his wins over the likes of Joachim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri back in 2008, Alvarez has been a staple of the lightweight top 10, but this is the first time that he has taken the top spot.
Meanwhile, Amanda Nunes was thrust into the UFC 200 main event after Jon Jones’ failed doping test scuttled his slated rematch with Daniel Cormier. Nunes seized the marquee moment, destroying Miesha Tate with punches before choking her out in just over three minutes to take the UFC women’s bantamweight crown. She became the UFC’s first openly gay champion in the process.
International Fight Week also saw many second fiddles in their divisions remain stuck in those positions, whether they won or lost.
Jose Aldo scored arguably the finest win of his career with a masterful performance against a surging Frankie Edgar at UFC 200, but until he avenges his 13-second knockout loss to Conor McGregor or “The Notorious” leaves the division, he will not retake the featherweight mantle. T.J. Dillashaw was sterling in avenging his previous decision loss to Raphael Assuncao with a one-sided 15-minute performance, but he is still second banana to Dominick Cruz until he avenges his split decision title loss in January. Most heartbreaking of all, Daniel Cormier did what he had to do in a last-minute fight against Anderson Silva, but despite cruising through an out-of-shape “Spider” over 15 minutes, Cormier is still in search of a rematch with pound-for-pound king Jon Jones, whose latest indiscretion may remove him from competition for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, at “The Ultimate Fighter 23” Finale, Claudia Gadelha stormed to a two-round lead against rival Joanna Jedrzejczyk but could not keep up her pace under the relentless striking pressure of the champion and ultimately dropped the unanimous verdict. Gadelha is clearly well ahead of the rest of the 115-pound pack, but she has lost twice to the reigning champion in less than two years.
This edition of the Sherdog.com rankings also welcomes back a few divisional notables who were previously ineligible due to inactivity. Unfortunately, the aforementioned Assuncao and former UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano return to their respective 135-pound top 10 lists coming off losses, with Assuncao falling to Dillashaw and Zingano being dominated by hot prospect Julianna Pena. On the flipside, without having fought in the last year and having admitted to taking a banned substance which will keep him out of competition for a while, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida exits the middleweight rankings.
Oh yes, and Brock Lesnar is back.
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