’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Staff May 26, 2014

The past few months have been quiet ones for the world’s most elite fighters, with some of the UFC’s top talents sidelined due to injury, looking toward upcoming fights, or both.

Even with the lack of activity, there has been movement at the top. Renan Barao, who previously occupied the No. 6 spot on this list, was shockingly ousted from the ranks of the pound-for-pounders by unheralded challenger T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173. The former bantamweight king had no answer for the speed and accuracy of Dillashaw, who kept the pressure on the Brazilian for five rounds to become the UFC’s new 135-pound ruler. Dillashaw remains some wins away from pound-for-pound discussion, but if his performance on May 24 in Las Vegas was any indication, the Team Alpha Male fighter could appear on this page before long.

Barao’s exit from the top 10 makes room for Gilbert Melendez, a man who many fans and pundits believe won the UFC lightweight title in April 2013 in a hard-fought split decision loss to Benson Henderson. “El Nino” went on to defeat the notoriously tough Diego Sanchez in October, putting him in line for a shot at new champ Anthony Pettis. That match will take place later this year, after Melendez and Pettis coach opposite one another on the 20th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

As the weather heats up, so will the big-name fights and pound-for-pound activity. June 7 will see Henderson take on surging Russian Rustam Khabilov in a pivotal 155-pound showdown, followed one week later by flyweight ace Demetrious Johnson’s defense against Ali Bagautinov at UFC 174.

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 seems to be an Aug. 30 rematch with Gustafsson at UFC 177, though the bout is not yet official.

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. After the win, “Scarface” seemed eager for a super fight against lightweight champion Anthony Pettis; but Pettis is now tied up with Gilbert Melendez. For now, the Brazilian will focus on a UFC 176 rematch with Chad Mendes, who has not lost since the two squared off in January 2012.

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 (11-0)

Weidman cemented his spot atop the middleweight division with a second consecutive triumph over Anderson Silva in the UFC 168 main event. After nearly finishing “The Spider” in the opening frame, the Serra-Longo Fight Team standout checked a kick that resulted in a gruesomely fractured leg for Silva, ending the bout 1:16 into the second round. Unbeaten in seven Octagon appearances, Weidman will make his second title defense at UFC 175 against former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who stepped in to replace original challenger Vitor Belfort.

5. Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1)

There is “Mighty Mouse,” and then there is the rest of the flyweight division -- that much remains clear. When Johnson bested Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152 for the promotion’s inaugural flyweight strap, it was a closely contested split decision in favor of “Mighty Mouse.” In their rematch at UFC on Fox 9, Johnson affirmed his place as the division’s undisputed king with a first-round knockout victory. Since he first captured 125-pound gold in September 2012, Johnson has defended his title three times in increasingly impressive fashion. As it stands, the AMC Pankration representative has bested the two men directly below him in the flyweight division: Benavidez and John Dodson. At UFC 174, Johnson will defend against Dagestani “Puncher” Ali Bagautinov, who has notched wins in all three of his Octagon appearances.

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 film a new season of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite rival coach Gilbert Melendez in May, 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. According to UFC President Dana White, “The Spider” could climb back in the cage before the end of the year. Silva, who turns 39 in April, was victorious in his first 17 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, with fellow UFC 171 winners Tyron Woodley and Hector Lombard already chasing title shots.

9. Benson Henderson (20-3)

In case anyone forgot, the former lightweight champion is a master of the high-wire act. Henderson proved it once again, taking a hotly contested -- and controversial -- split verdict over Josh Thomson in the UFC on Fox 10 headliner. “Smooth” is now 3-0 in UFC bouts that result in split decisions, with triumphs over Thomson, Gilbert Melendez and Frankie Edgar to his credit. Such efforts may not win him new fans, but he remains a fixture near the top of the 155-pound weight class. However, the lack of an emphatic victory over Thomson -- plus two defeats against reigning lightweight champion Anthony Pettis -- makes for a tough road back to the top for the MMA Lab representative.

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. He will coach opposite lightweight champion Anthony Pettis on Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” before challenging “Showtime” for his title later this year.


Comments powered by Disqus
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>