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Kamaru Usman joined Georges St. Pierre in rarefied air on Saturday night.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” notched his 12th consecutive welterweight triumph in the UFC 251 headliner, taking a clear-cut unanimous decision over fan favorite Jorge Masvidal in Abu Dhabi. That ties him for with pound-for-pound great GSP for the longest winning streak in UFC history at 170 pounds. Despite that mark, Usman hasn’t quite reached St. Pierre status in Sherdog.com's latest pound-for-pound rankings. The reigning welterweight king’s triumph over a short-notice foe, while impressive, wasn’t enough to lift him above his previous ranking of No. 6. With the two men ahead of him, Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, on tap to fight next month, there could be room for advancement in the near future.
Elsewhere, Alexander Volkanovski improved to 2-0 in his championship rivalry with Max Holloway by earning a contentious split-decision triumph in the UFC 251 co-main event. Though the triumph was disputed by many observers, Volkanovki’s second consecutive triumph over a fellow pound-for-pound contender allows him to move up one spot, from eighth to ninth ahead of Demetrious Johnson, who awaits his next One Championship appearance. Holloway, despite losses in three of his last four outings, clings to his 14th ranking for the time being.
1. Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0)Nurmagomedov needed less than 15 minutes to dispatch Dustin Poirier at UFC 242, and he made it look astonishingly easy. “The Eagle” overwhelmed his opponent with takedowns and pressure from the outset of the bout, gradually wearing Poirier down until he secured the rear-naked choke submission at the 2:06 mark of Round 3. Nurmagomedov’s long-anticipated date with Tony Ferguson remains cursed, as their headlining bout at UFC 249 was scrapped after the Dagestani fighter was stranded in Russia due to travel restrictions designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Nurmagomedov is expected to face new interim king Justin Gaethje, though a date for that title unification bout remains unclear..
2. Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC)The competition is catching up to Jones, but it hasn’t surpassed him just yet. “Bones” survived by the skin of his teeth at UFC 247, as he edged Dominick Reyes in a unanimous verdict in the evening’s headliner at the Toyota Center in Houston. In a fight that many observers scored in favor of Reyes, Jones was able to sway the judges’ scorecards with consistent forward pressure and a strong push in the championship rounds. The hard-fought triumph gives Jones 14 victories in championship fights, the most in the history of the Las Vegas-based promotion. Seemingly unmotivated by the thought of another 205-pound title defense, Jones has engaged in a very public negotiation with the UFC over a possible heavyweight fight with Francis Ngannou. The progress thus far has not been promising, as Jones went on social media to say he has vacated his title following a spat with Dana White.
3. Henry Cejudo (17-2)Cejudo became only the second fighter in promotion history to successfully defend titles in two divisions at UFC 249 when he defeated Dominick Cruz via second-round technical knockout in the evening’s co-main event at VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. After the victory, the Olympic gold medalist made a surprising retirement announcement, citing a desire to start a family. Retirements often don’t last in MMA, but if it holds up, “Triple C” ends his career with a six-fight winning streak that includes triumphs over Demetrious Johnson, T.J. Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes and Cruz. The UFC took the announcement seriously, as Cejudo’s belt was vacated and captured by Petr Yan.
4. Stipe Miocic (19-3)Down on the scorecards after three rounds, Miocic showed the ability to adjust at UFC 241, as he attacked Daniel Cormier’s body to set up a fourth-round technical knockout victory in their rematch in Anaheim, Calif. Not only was it a nice rebound from his KO loss to “DC” in their first meeting at UFC 226, but it refocused talks on Miocic as potentially the greatest heavyweight of all-time. The Ohio-based firefighter now owns five victories in UFC title bouts, the second most in the history of the heavyweight division. The trilogy with Cormier has been booked for UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
5. Daniel Cormier (22-2, 1 NC)For three rounds, Cormier waded forward with total disregard for Stipe Miocic’s power in the UFC 241 headliner. That approach ultimately failed him in the fourth stanza, however, as Miocic began to dig to the body. Those blows gradually accumulated until Miocic was able to hurt “DC” and flurry for the finish at the 4:09 mark of the period. Cormier will have a chance to end his MMA career in style when he faces Miocic in a farewell heavyweight championship trilogy bout at UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
6. Kamaru Usman (17-1)Usman continued to roll through the welterweight division at UFC 251, taking a dominant unanimous verdict over short-notice foe Jorge Masvidal in the evening’s headliner at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. While “The Nigerian Nightmare” wasn’t especially exciting, he was undeniably effective in throttling his opponent through clinch work, pressure and takedowns. Usman has now won 12 consecutive fights at 170 pounds, tying him with Georges St. Pierre for the longest winning streak in the history of the division.
7. Israel Adesanya (19-0)Adesanya didn’t score many style points at UFC 248, but he was able to emerge from the evening’s headliner with his undefeated record intact following a unanimous verdict over Yoel Romero at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Nigerian-born Kiwi opted for a conservative approach against a dangerous opponent, as he picked his spots and relied heavily on leg kicks to improve to 8-0 in UFC competition. A showdown with another dangerous adversary in Paulo Henrique Costa looms for “The Last Stylebender,” who could certainly use a more fan-friendly effort in his next Octagon appearance.
8. Alexander Volkanovski (22-1)Volkanovski improved to 2-0 against Max Holloway at UFC 251, but victory in the rematch came by a much slimmer margin than it did in their first meeting. After Holloway rocked the Australian featherweight champion at the end of Rounds 1 and 2 to take an early lead on the scorecards, Volkanovski finished strong over the bout’s final 15 minutes to earn a contentious split-decision triumph in Abu Dhabi. That makes nine consecutive UFC victories and 19 straight professional triumphs overall for the City Kickboxing representative, who can now move past his rivalry with Holloway and focus on other contenders at 145 pounds.
9. Demetrious Johnson (30-3-1)Johnson added a new piece of hardware to his collection in Tokyo, as he outpointed Danny Kingad to capture the One Championship flyweight grand prix belt on Oct. 12. After losing the UFC 125-pound strap to Henry Cejudo in August 2018, “Mighty Mouse” was traded to a new organization and pieced together victories over Yuya Wakamatsu, Tatsumitsu Wada and Danny Kingad within the Singapore-based promotion in 2019. While it wasn’t always a cakewalk for the AMC Pankration product, the accomplishment was made even more impressive considering the fact that all three triumphs occurred essentially one weight class above the division where Johnson established himself as one of the sport’s most dominant competitors. A showdown with reigning One flyweight titlist Adriano Moraes awaits Johnson once One resumes its event schedule.
10. Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC)Coming off a disappointing loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a 155-pound title bout at UFC 242 last September, Poirier displayed his championship mettle against Dan Hooker in the UFC on ESPN 12 main event. “The Diamond” dropped the first two rounds to his Kiwi opponent before picking up the pace down the stretch to earn a thoroughly entertaining unanimous decision at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Poirier has won five of his last six Octagon appearances and remains a dangerous force at the top of the division..
Other Contenders: Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Conor McGregor, Max Holloway, Robert Whittaker.
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, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Edward Carbajal, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Keith Shillan, Mike Sloan, Patrick Auger and Tyler Treese.
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