Sherdog’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10 Rankings

By Tristen Critchfield Apr 3, 2019

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Regardless of the level of competition he is facing in his new home, Demetrious Johnson remains one of the top pound-for-pound talents in the sport.

After a trade from the Ultimate Fighting Championship for Ben Askren brought “Mighty Mouse” to One Championship, Johnson made his highly-anticipated debut with the Singapore-based promotion in Tokyo on March 31. The result was predictable: Johnson advanced in the One flyweight grand prix with a second-round submission of Yuya Wakamatsu after surviving a few rough patches in the bout.

Johnson will be favored in virtually any matchup under the Once Championship banner, but his pound-for-pound status could eventually be affected if he continues to face what could be perceived as inferior competition. For now, the AMC Pankration product will stay put.

Meanwhile, former bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw exits the pound-for-pound poll due to the one year suspension he received for failing a drug test at UFC Brooklyn, a result which caused him to give up his 135-pound belt. Ex-welterweight king Tyron Woodley returns at No. 10 after briefly leaving the rankings following his loss to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235.

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. Jones, who is unbeaten in his last 16 outings, will continue to try and work his way through the division when he meets Thiago Santos in the UFC 239 headliner on July 6.

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. For now, however, Cejudo will pursue his dream of becoming a two-division champion when he faces Marlon Moraes for the vacant bantamweight strap at UFC 238.

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. Demetrious Johnson (28-3-1)

Johnson kicked off his One Championship tenure with a second-round guillotine choke submission of Yuya Wakamatsu in the opening round of the promotion’s flyweight grand prix. “Mighty Mouse” survived a game effort from his unheralded opponent before locking in a power guillotine choke at the 2:40 mark of the second round at One “A New Era” on March 31. A closely contested split-decision setback against Henry Cejudo in his final UFC appearance is Johnson’s only loss since 2011, and the AMC Pankration product figures to have a good opportunity continue to pad his record against lesser competition in his new home.

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. Tyron Woodley (19-5-1)

For a man laying claim to the welterweight “GOAT” title coming in, UFC 235 was a cold dose of of reality for Woodley. “The Chosen One” was overwhelmed from the outset against Kamaru Usman, as he was dominated from bell to bell in the evening’s co-main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Once he was unable to land his powerful right hand, Woodley had no other answers for his opponent, and his wrestling was surprisingly no match for “The Nigerian Nightmare.” The ex-champ will attempt to get back on the winning track when he faces Robbie Lawler in a rematch at UFC on ESPN 4 in Minneapolis.

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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