Sherdog’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

By Tristen Critchfield Mar 5, 2019
Ben Duffy/ illustration

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After five rounds against Kamaru Usman, Tyron Woodley went from a “GOAT” contender at welterweight to an also-ran in our latest pound-for-pound update.

UFC 235 was a coronation for “The Nigerian Nightmare,” who completely overwhelmed Woodley for 25 minutes in Saturday’s co-main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In winning his 10th consecutive fight, Usman never looked better. He outlanded Woodley by 276 total strikes, a UFC record for a championship fight, and never allowed his opponent to connect cleanly with his powerful right hand. For seeing his reign end in such emphatic fashion, Woodley leaves our pound-for-pound rankings to make room for Usman, who debuts at No. 7.

Meanwhile, Jon Jones holds steady at the top spot thanks to a businesslike triumph against Anthony Smith in the UFC 235 headliner. It won’t go down as his most spectacular effort, but the fact that a virtual shutout on the scorecards against a contender with momentum -- a two-point deduction for an illegal knee notwithstanding -- draws a collective yawn from the MMA community is a testament to how great Jones truly is on fight night. Woodley can only wish life was so boring.

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

1. Jon Jones (24-1)

It wasn’t his most thrilling triumph to date, but Jones maintained his spot atop the division with relative ease thanks to a suspenseless five-round drubbing of Anthony Smith in the UFC 235 headliner. While potentially attractive opponents await at heavyweight, “Bones” seems more interested in clearing out the competition at 205 pounds. Right now, that list could include (in no particular order) Thiago Santos, Dominick Reyes and Johnny Walker. Jones, who is unbeaten in his last 16 outings and has never tasted true defeat as a pro, would be heavily favored against any of those potential adversaries.

2. Daniel Cormier (21-1)

The best thing you can say about Cormier’s effort at UFC 230 was that it was predictable. “DC” landed multiple takedowns on underdog Derrick Lewis before securing a tapout with a rear-naked choke at the 2:14 mark of the second stanza. Cormier became the first fighter to defend titles from two divisions in UFC history. Cormier previously set March 20 as a retirement date, but lingering issues from a back injury suffered before UFC 230 will force “DC” to fight beyond his 40th birthday.

3. Max Holloway (20-3)

After a rough year saw Holloway suffer through multiple fight cancellations, “Blessed” closed out 2018 with a bang at UFC 231. The reigning featherweight champion busted up the previously undefeated Brian Ortega for four rounds, ultimately forcing a doctor stoppage before the fifth round could commence. The Hawaiian fighter will attempt to become a two-division champion in his next outing, when he faces Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight belt at UFC 236 in Atlanta on April 13.

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. Nurmagomedov received a nine-month suspension — which can be reduced to six with the production of an anti-bullying PSA — and a $500,000 fine for his role in the post-fight brawl that occurred after the bout. It appears that the Dagestani won’t return until the end of the year.

5. Henry Cejudo (15-2)

Few fighters have authored a pair of back-to-back triumphs like Cejudo. After edging pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson to claim flyweight gold at UFC 227, the Olympic gold medalist needed just 32 seconds to dispatch reigning bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw in the UFC Brooklyn headliner to retain his title. Plenty of uncertainty remains regarding the future of the flyweight division in the UFC, but Cejudo made a strong case to keep it around for a while longer. At the least, he seems to have set up a rematch with Dillashaw for the 135-pound belt down the road.

6. Robert Whittaker (20-4)

An emergency hernia surgery forced Whittaker to withdraw from his scheduled title defense against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234. Even more disappointing, that’s twice that “The Reaper” has been forced to pull out of headlining championship fights in his home country of Australia (An injury also forced him out of a proposed matchup with Luke Rockhold at UFC 221.) Whittaker has won nine bouts in a row but is still awaiting his first official belt defense, as his UFC 225 triumph over Yoel Romero was a non-title bout due to Romero missing weight.

7. Kamaru Usman (15-1)

Even those who predicted victory for Usman couldn’t have imagined “The Nigerian Nightmare” being as dominant as he was against Tyron Woodley at UFC 235. Usman claimed the welterweight throne on the strength of five dominant rounds against Woodley, overwhelming his opponent with wrestling, clinch work and top control. In fact, Usman probably deserved more 10-8 scorecards than he received. Nonetheless, Usman has hardware for his trophy case and an ongoing 10-fight winning streak. Former interim champ Colby Covington is likely next on his agenda.

8. T.J. Dillashaw (16-4)

Few could have expected Dillashaw to fall to Henry Cejudo in just 32 seconds at UFC Brooklyn. While the reigning bantamweight champion is adamant that the stoppage was early — he called it “complete bulls—t” at the post-fight press conference — it’s unclear if he will be granted a rematch at 125 pounds. Dillashaw, who had won eight of nine bouts prior to facing Cejudo, remains the No. 1 fighter in the world at bantamweight and figures to have a number of interesting options for his next Octagon appearance, including a rematch with the Olympic gold medalist at 135 pounds.

9. 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. With that, Johnson’s run in the UFC has reached its end, as the promotion “traded” the pound-for-pound stalwart’s contract for that of former One Championship and Bellator welterweight titlist Ben Askren. Johnson is scheduled to take part in One’s upcoming 125-pound grand prix tournament, beginning with a matchup against Yuya Wakamatsu on March 31.

10. 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.

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, Eric Stinton, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Jacob Debets, Nathan Zur, Kevin Wilson, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Keith Shillan, Jordan Colbert, Jordan Breen, Mike Sloan, Tom Feely and Adam Martin. Advertisement


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