’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Brian Knapp Aug 8, 2018

Demetrious Johnson sat on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s flyweight throne for 2,142 days -- a historic reign that covered a record 11 title defenses against 10 different opponents and cast him as one of the sport’s pound-for-pound power players. None of it mattered to Henry Cejudo.

A little more than two years after being soundly defeated by “Mighty Mouse,” Cejudo made the most of his opportunity in their rematch. The 2008 Olympic gold medalist captured the undisputed flyweight championship with a split decision over Johnson in the UFC 227 co-headliner on Aug. 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, mere miles from where he was born. Cejudo counteracted Johnson’s advantages in the standup department -- he was outstruck 121-80 in total strikes and 81-51 in significant strikes -- with takedowns and top control in the second, fourth and fifth rounds, where he bottled up “Mighty Mouse” and kept his prodigious offensive skills at bay.

The loss snapped Johnson’s 13-fight winning streak and pushed him from second to eighth in the latest Sherdog pound-for-pound rankings. Cejudo, meanwhile, debuts at No. 7.

Elsewhere at UFC 227, reigning bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw closed the book on his rivalry with former Team Alpha Male stablemate Cody Garbrandt and did so in resounding fashion. The 32-year-old knocked down Garbrandt twice and buried him with a knee strike and punches 4:10 into the first round of their main event. Dillashaw now holds a 2-0 lead in their head-to-head series and rises to No. 6 on the pound-for-pound list.

Without further delay, the updated Pound-for-Pound Top 10 rankings:

1. Daniel Cormier (21-1)

Cormier added to his legacy at UFC 226 on July 7, as he became only the second simultaneous two-division titleholder in the promotion’s history -- Conor McGregor was the first -- with a first-round knockout of heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in the main event. Cormier, who also holds sway over the 205-pound weight class, remains undefeated in the big-man’s division; and based on a post-fight confrontation with current World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar, he could remain at heavyweight for his next title defense.

2. Max Holloway (19-3)

Holloway is not having much luck in 2018. Just days out from a scheduled 145-pound title defense against Brian Ortega in the UFC 226 co-main event, “Blessed” was pulled from the bout due to concussion-like symptoms. That marks the third time this year Holloway has been forced to withdraw from a fight: An injured foot forced him out of a matchup with Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 in March, and the Hawaiian was deemed medically unfit to take a short-notice lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April. Holloway will likely be rebooked against Ortega down the road, but for now, his health remains the primary concern.

3. Tyron Woodley (18-3-1)

Woodley already has three successful title defenses under his belt and once said he “would bet the house” that his fourth would come against Nate Diaz this summer. However, just as he did when Woodley referenced a bout with Diaz in December, UFC President Dana White shot down that notion, claiming the champion “couldn’t be more full of s---.” A unification bout with newly minted interim titleholder Colby Covington appeared to be next in line, but when “Chaos” could not meet the promotion’s timetable, Woodley was booked against Darren Till in the UFC 228 headliner on Sept. 8.

4. Robert Whittaker (20-4)

After nearly a year away from competition, Whittaker returned to the Octagon and delivered an instant classic in a rematch against Yoel Romero in the UFC 225 headliner. The Australia-based fighter survived knockdowns in the third and fifth rounds to hold off “The Soldier of God” -- a man he also defeated for interim 185-pound gold at UFC 213 -- for a narrow split decision triumph. Whittaker, who has won nine consecutive fights, will coach opposite Kelvin Gastelum on Season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter” before squaring off with his rival at a future event. The exact date of his first official title defense depends on how quickly Whittaker heals from a broken thumb suffered in his fight with Romero.

5. Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0)

Nurmagmedov claimed the vacant lightweight throne with a convincing five-round verdict over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Far bigger game now awaits, as the Dagestani grappler will finally square off against ex-champ Conor McGregor in a long-awaited showdown at UFC 229 on Oct. 6 in Las Vegas. Oddsmakers initially tabbed “The Eagle” as a slight favorite in the bout, as Nurmagomedov will attempt to win his 11th straight fight in the promotion.

6. T.J. Dillashaw (16-3)

Nothing quite slams the door on a rivalry like back-to-back knockouts. Dillashaw did just that in the UFC 227 headliner with his second finish in as many outings against former Team Alpha Male training partner Cody Garbrandt. The Duane Ludwig protege has won eight of his last nine fights in the Octagon and is securely in the Greatest of All-Time discussion for his division. Still, Dominick Cruz, the last man to defeat him, looms large as a potential opponent.

7. Henry Cejudo (14-2)

When Cejudo made his mixed martial arts debut on the regional circuit, Demetrious Johnson was already the UFC’s reigning flyweight champion. When he squared off with “Mighty Mouse” the first time, he clearly was not ready, losing via first-round technical at UFC 197. The second time around, Cejudo had clearly evolved, and he ended Johnson’s record title reign with a split decision triumph in the UFC 227 co-main event. A trilogy bout seems to make sense, but Cejudo has already expressed interest in a superfight against bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw.

8. Demetrious Johnson (27-3-1)

All good things must come to an end, including Johnson’s record streak of 11 successful flyweight title defenses. “Mighty Mouse” did not go down easily, losing a tension-filled split decision to Henry Cejudo in the UFC 227 co-main event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Considering the close nature of the defeat and the fact that Johnson also owns a first-round stoppage of Cejudo, a trilogy seems to make a lot of sense. However, the most logical options do not always come to fruition in the modern UFC era.

9. Stipe Miocic (18-3)

Heavyweight title reigns are fleeting, even if you have authored the longest such reign in UFC history. That proved to be the case for Miocic, who fell to reigning light heavyweight king Daniel Cormier via first-round knockout in the UFC 226 headliner. The defeat snapped a six-fight winning streak for the Ohio firefighter, who had bested Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem during his stay at the top.

10. Tony Ferguson (23-3)

When it comes to freak injuries, Ferguson’s is hard to top. “El Cucuy” tore a ligament in his knee while fulfilling media obligations less than a week before a highly anticipated clash with Khabib Nurmagomedov. As a result, the cursed fight was canceled for a fourth time. Still, Ferguson has won 10 straight fights, and according to UFC President Dana White, he remains the No. 1 contender at 155 pounds. However, the interim title he claimed with a triangle choke submission on Kevin Lee in October has been dissolved by the organization.

Sherdog’s divisional and pound-for-pound rankings are compiled by a panel of staff members and contributors: Tristen Critchfield, Mike Fridley, Brian Knapp, Jesse Denis, James Nietering, Eric Stinton, Ben Duffy, Nathan Zur, Kevin Wilson, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Mike Sloan, Mark Raymundo, Jordan Colbert, Jordan Breen and Joao Baptista.


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