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“The Eagle” continues to soar over the rest of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division.
Khabib Nurmagomedov earned his 27th consecutive professional triumph -- and 11th in the Octagon -- with a fourth-round submission of Conor McGregor, the sport’s biggest star, at UFC 229. What should have been a celebration of the signature victory of Nurmagomedov’s career devolved into something else entirely at the T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 6.
Instead of breaking down the Dagestani’s submission of McGregor we’ve been left to discuss the ramifications of the post-fight melee that erupted moments after the Irishman tapped to a neck crank. Will Nurmagomedov face a lengthy suspension for his actions, or even worse, will he be stripped of the lightweight crown? Only time will tell. For now, one thing is clear: “The Eagle” reigns supreme at 155 pounds. On the basis of his overall dominance, Nurmagomedov leapfrogs Robert Whittaker to move into fourth place on our pound-for-pound poll.
Meanwhile, Tyron Woodley continued to stake his claim to being viewed as one of the all-time best at welterweight with a relatively easy victory over Darren Till at UFC 228 on Sept. 8. “The Chosen One” tapped the previously unbeaten Englishman with a brabo choke at the 4:19 mark of round two for his fourth consecutive title defense -- currently the longest active streak among UFC champions. Woodley continues to stand strong at No. 3 in our poll, behind only Daniel Cormier and Max Holloway. Without further delay, the updated Sherdog.com Pound-for-Pound Top 10 rankings:
1. Daniel Cormier (21-1)Cormier added to his legacy at UFC 226, where he became only the second simultaneous two-division titleholder in the promotion’s history with a first-round knockout of heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in the main event. Based on a post-fight confrontation with Brock Lesnar, it appeared a showdown with the World Wrestling Entertainment Superstar would be next. However, after being stripped of his 205-pound belt so Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson can vie for the vacant strap at UFC 232, Cormier will make his first heavyweight title defense against Derrick Lewis at UFC 230. Depending on how things go at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 3, Lesnar could still await “DC” in early 2019.
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 was rebooked against Ortega at UFC 231 in Toronto on Dec. 8.
3. Tyron Woodley (19-3-1)Woodley continues to make his case to be known as the “Greatest of All Time” at welterweight. In the UFC 228 headliner, “The Chosen One” dispatched Darren Till via second-round submission, tapping out his English opponent with a brabo choke in the second frame. Unbeaten in his last seven Octagon appearances and the owner of the longest active title defense streak in the UFC, Woodley is in a great spot right now -- regardless of how history currently sees him.
4. Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0)Post-fight shenanigans aside, Nurmagomedov was in prime form against Conor McGregor at UFC 229. He completed takedowns, applied heavy top pressure and generally made life difficult for the knockout-minded Irishman at every turn. “The Eagle” even survived adversity -- he lost a round for the first time in his promotional tenure -- before tapping McGregor with a neck crank at the 3:03 mark of round four. There is much to resolve before considering what’s next for Nurmagomedov in the Octagon, as he faces disciplinary action from both the Nevada Athletic Commission and the UFC in the coming weeks. As dominant as any fighter in the UFC, Nurmagomedov has won 11 consecutive bouts in the promotion.
5. 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.
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)Ferguson showed no ill effects from the knee injury that forced him out of a title fight in April, as he displayed all of his trademark movement and creativity en route to earning a stoppage victory against Anthony Pettis in the UFC 229 co-main event. “El Cucuy” may have lost his interim 155-pound belt due to injury, but with 11 consecutive victories under his belt, he remains the top contender in the division.
Sherdog’s divisional and pound-for-pound rankings are compiled by a panel of Sherdog.com staff members and contributors: Tristen Critchfield, Mike Fridley, Brian Knapp, Jesse Denis, Eric Stinton, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Jacob Debets, Nathan Zur, Kevin Wilson, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Mark Raymundo, Jordan Colbert, Jordan Breen, Mike Sloan, Tom Feely, Adam Martin and Joao Baptista.