’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Staff Aug 31, 2014

For the first time in 30 months, Benson Henderson is not a part of the pound-for-pound picture.

Henderson officially entered the ranks of the MMA elite in February 2012, when he captured the UFC lightweight title from Frankie Edgar, then held on to his spot as he topped Edgar again and outpointed challengers Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. However, after dropping his belt to old nemesis Anthony Pettis in August 2013 and barely edging Josh Thomson in a controversial January decision, “Smooth” slid down to the bottom half of’s pound-for-pound top 10. Henderson’s Aug. 23 loss to Rafael dos Anjos -- the first knockout of the Arizonan’s eight-year career -- was the final nail in the coffin.

Henderson’s exit makes way for top 205-pound contender Daniel Cormier, who racked up 13 consecutive wins as a heavyweight before switching weight classes earlier this year. Cormier laid waste to late replacement Patrick Cummins in his divisional debut and then notched a signature win in a sterling performance against all-time great Dan Henderson in May.

The American Kickboxing Academy fighter’s dominance to date has made him an enticing opponent for equally invincible UFC light heavyweight ace Jon Jones. After some heated exchanges in promoting a scheduled September title fight, Jones was forced to withdraw with a knee injury. The pair appears to be back on track for a showdown at UFC 182 in January, when Cormier will have a chance to further scale this list.

Related: Sherdog Divisional Rankings

1. Jon Jones (20-1)

It has been four months since the sport’s premier fighter stepped inside the cage, and it will be another four before “Bones” is ready to defend his UFC light heavyweight title. First, an injury to Alexander Gustafsson derailed plans for a rematch at UFC 178; then it was Jones who injured a knee and had to withdraw from his booking against replacement Daniel Cormier. After minor surgery, Jones and Cormier have been rescheduled for a meeting at UFC 182 on Jan. 3, when the Jackson-Wink MMA product will attempt to defend his belt for a record eighth time in a bout that has quickly progressed from short-notice contest to legitimate grudge match.

2. Jose Aldo (24-1)

Aldo’s reign atop the featherweight division has been, in turns, thrilling and frustrating, and the latter facet once again reared its ugly head in July. The Nova Uniao star continues to deal with a lingering neck injury, and his latest flare-up caused the cancellation of UFC 176. Aldo, who has won 17 straight bouts since 2006 and has defeated six challengers inside the Octagon, is now scheduled to rematch Chad Mendes on Oct. 25 at UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro. The pair’s first match also took place in Rio and saw Aldo knock out the Team Alpha Male fighter with one second left in the opening round.

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 (12-0)

The “All-American” showed his all-around skills with a decisive title defense against ex-light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 175. While Machida was able to tag the Serra-Longo Fight Team representative in the waning moments of their five-round encounter, the work Weidman did with his hands, kicks and takedowns through the first four rounds was more than enough to retain his UFC middleweight title. The New Yorker’s unblemished resume now includes victories over two of Brazil’s finest fighters -- Machida and Anderson Silva -- and Weidman could soon add a third, as he is scheduled to meet a newly testosterone replacement therapy-free Vitor Belfort in the main event of UFC 181.

5. Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1)

The UFC’s flyweight dynamo continues to widen the gap between himself and everyone else at 125 pounds. Gone are the narrow decisions that squeaked “Mighty Mouse” past Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall; in his last three bouts, Johnson has recorded a crushing knockout, an armbar submission and a five-round rout. Ali Bagautinov found himself on the wrong end of that one-sided blowout at UFC 174, where Johnson used his blistering speed to fight circles around his challenger and outscored the Russian nearly four-to-one in significant strikes. Chris Cariaso will be the next to attempt to knock Johnson from his throne at UFC 178.

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 coach Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Gilbert Melendez, with the two expected to face off at UFC 181 in December.

7. Anderson Silva (33-6)

When Silva suffered a gruesome leg injury in his rematch with Chris Weidman at UFC 168, many rightfully wondered if we had seen the last of the former pound-for-pound king and long-reigning UFC middleweight champ. As it turns out, “The Spider” may only spend about a year out of action, as Silva resumed sparring in July and recently stated that his leg is "95-percent" healed. Upon his return in January, the 39-year-old Brazilian is scheduled to face former Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz in a long-discussed super fight at UFC 183.

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. Currently on the mend after surgery on a torn biceps, Hendricks is targeted for an early 2015 return to rematch top contender Lawler.

9. 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 flirted with a move to Bellator in early 2014 before re-signing with the UFC. The former Strikeforce ace will coach opposite UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis on Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” before challenging “Showtime” for the title on Dec. 6.

10. Daniel Cormier (15-0)

Five years into his MMA career, Cormier has racked up an impressive 15-0 resume which includes some of the biggest names in the sport. Dan Henderson, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir and Roy Nelson all have felt the weight of Cormier’s Olympic-level wrestling, and now the downsized American Kickboxing Academy product has his sights set on the UFC 205-pound championship. While his planned September title bout with top pound-for-pounder Jon Jones was scratched due to a Jones injury, Cormier will get his chance at “Bones” come Jan. 3 at UFC 182.


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