Frankie Edgar remains the top lightweight in the world in the minds of some. However, after a split decision in the UFC 150 main event, the 155-pound title belt still hangs around Benson Henderson's waist.
As a result of his back-to-back losses against Henderson, Edgar may be forced to move to the featherweight division in hopes of regaining a UFC title.
Currently, Jose Aldo reigns over the featherweight division and is running short on serious threats. Aldo's next opponent, Erik Koch, is coming off of an unimpressive decision victory over Jonathan Brookins.
Should Aldo dispose of Koch with ease, Edgar could be put on the fast-track toward what would be a blockbuster title fight against the Brazilian champion.
As the lightweight and featherweight divisions prepare for a potential landscape change, here is a look at how the UFC's eight divisions stand from top to bottom.
The following rankings are computerized based primarily on comparing similar competition among fighters.
Fighters who have announced their retirement will be ineligible for ranking until they return to the Octagon.
Suspended fighters and competitors who have been inactive for more than one calender year will be listed as "not ranked."
Fighters will be ranked in the division in which they last competed unless they are scheduled for a bout in a new division, in which case the fighter will be listed as "not ranked" in their new division until their scheduled bout occurs.
The dust is finally beginning to settle in the heavyweight division after the retirement of former champion Brock Lesnar. Junior dos Santos has emerged as the new top dog and recently defended his heavyweight title against Frank Mir.
After beating UFC newcomer Antonio Silva, former champion Cain Velasquez has quickly returned to the front of the line for a rematch with dos Santos, which was previously believed to be scheduled for UFC 152 in September.
However, that bout is now set to take place in December.
In other heavyweight news, Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin will serve as coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. When Carwin steps into the cage across from Nelson at the end of season, it will mark his first fight since losing to dos Santos in June 2011.
|1||Junior dos Santos|
|5||Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira|
|14||Shane del Rosario|
|15||Phil De Fries|
- — Shane Carwin
- — Geronimo dos Santos
- — Alistair Overeem
|Cheick Kongo||Shawn Jordan||Unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-27)|
|Phil DeFries||Oli Thompson||Submission at 4:16 of Round 2|
After an uneventful win over former Strikeforce heavyweight Shawn Jordan, Cheick Kongo continues his string of underwhelming performances. The Frenchman has fallen out of the heavyweight division's Top 10 and, at 37 years old, we may never see him back at that level for the rest of his career.
With eight submission wins in 11 career fights, 26-year-old Phil DeFries appears to have the potential to become one of the top ground specialists in the heavyweight division. If the Alliance MMA product can bring his striking along more quickly, he could be a threat to enter the Top 10 in the coming years.
It was originally announced by UFC president Dana White that the winner of the UFC on Fox 4 main event fight between Mauricio Rua and Brandon Vera would receive the next light heavyweight title shot against the winner of an upcoming championship bout between Jon Jones and Dan Henderson.
However, a negative response from fans to that decision gave Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader an equal opportunity to earn a title shot in the co-main event.
With a second-round knockout of Bader, Machida made the most of the opportunity he was handed and became the next top contender in the light heavyweight division.
Despite losing decisively against Jones in December, Machida could now find himself in a rematch with the champion by early 2013.
|10||Antonio Rogerio Nogueira|
Ineligible Light Heavyweights
- — Chad Griggs
- — Matt Hammill
- — Roger Hollett
- — Jorgen Kruth
- — Vinny Magalhaes
- — Jimi Manuwa
- — Chael Sonnen
|Mauricio Rua||Brandon Vera||Knockout at 4:09 of Round 4|
|Lyoto Machida||Ryan Bader||Knockout at 1:32 of Round 2|
|Phil Davis||Wagner Prado||No contest|
|Ryan Jimmo||Anthony Perosh||Knockout at 0:07 of Round 1|
Although his fourth-round knockout of Vera wasn't enough to earn a title shot, Rua has already been booked for a big fight with Alexander Gustafsson.
It would appear the winner of the matchup between Rua and Gustafsson would fall next in line behind Machida for a light heavyweight title shot.
Meanwhile, despite his loss to Rua, Vera vastly improved his standing in the light heavyweight division. Not long ago, Vera was temporarily released from the UFC, but he should now expect another big fight in his next trip to the Octagon.
A meeting with fellow UFC on Fox 4 loser Ryan Bader could give Vera a chance to prove his showing against "Shogun" was no fluke.
Tying the record for fastest UFC knockout ever in his debut with the organization, Ryan Jimmo becomes a very intriguing addition to the 205-pound division. The Canadian is undefeated in 17 straight fights and could have a chance to break into the Top 10 in his next outing.
|No. 1||Jon Jones||vs.||No. 2||Dan Henderson|
While there is only one light heavyweight bout scheduled for the next month, it is an important one. At UFC 151, Jon Jones will attempt to tie Chuck Liddell and Frank Shamrock for the second-most consecutive light heavyweight title defenses in UFC history.
Looking to cement his place in the history books with his first UFC title, former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson should prove a worthy adversary.
Henderson earned his shot at Jones with a win over Rua in a back-and-forth battle for the ages.
In the past month, two MMA stars debuted in the UFC's middleweight division. Former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard came up short in a disappointing performance against the rising Tim Boetsch, while Jake Shields picked up a win over Ed Herman in his return to 185-pound class.
With new additions entering the middleweight title picture and Anderson Silva apparently set on waiting for the outcome of Georges St-Pierre's upcoming fight with Carlos Condit, the 185-pound division has suddenly become muddled.
- — Luiz Cane
- — Tim Credeur
- — Renee Forte
- — Chris Leben
- — Daniel Sarafian
- — Tom Watson
|Tim Boetsch||Hector Lombard||Split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)|
|Yushin Okami||Buddy Roberts||Technical Knockout at 3:05 of Round 2|
|Jake Shields||Ed Herman||Unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)|
|Michael Kuiper||Jared Hamman||Technical Knockout at 2:16 of Round 2|
|Nick Ring||Court McGee||Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)|
It wasn't pretty, but Boetsch did enough to spoil Lombard's UFC debut and move one step closer to a middleweight title shot. However, a foot injury suffered during the UFC 149 bout could delay Boetsch's return to the Octagon.
Veterans Shields and Yushin Okami picked up important wins in their respective fights against Herman and Buddy Roberts at UFC 150.
Now, a bout between the two grapplers could make sense to determine which fighter is ready for a return to title contention.
While the welterweight division not-so-patiently awaits the return of Georges St-Pierre from his long absence due to knee injury, a number of 170-pound fighters are getting set to return from long absences.
After battling injuries of his own for two and a half years, Mike Swick returned with a victory over DaMarques Johnson at UFC on Fox 4.
Meanwhile, a Josh Koscheck injury opened the door for recent Bellator title contender Jay Hieron to return to the Octagon against Jake Ellenberger at UFC 151.
Most notably, though, Nick Diaz and B.J. Penn announced they will be returning from brief retirements. Penn is already booked for a fight with Rory MacDonald, while Diaz awaits his suspension for a failed drug test to expire.
|26||Dong Hyun Kim|
- — Nick Diaz
- — Jay Hieron
- — Kyle Noke
- — B.J. Penn
- — Mark Scanlon
- — Matt Serra
- — Georges St Pierre
|James Head||Brian Ebersole||Split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)|
|Mike Swick||DaMarques Johnson||Knockout at 1:20 of Round 2|
|Matt Riddle||Chris Clements||Submission at 1:25 of Round 3|
A two and a half year absence did not hinder Mike Swick in his Octagon return against DaMarques Johnson, who had a strong first round before suffering a knockout loss to Swick in the second round of their UFC on Fox 4 bout.
The 33-year-old Swick can now only hope to remain healthy as he attempts to return to relevancy in the 170-pound division.
While Swick's return to the welterweight picture, Brian Ebersole appears to be on his way out after a loss to James Head.
Despite winning his first four UFC fights, Ebersole was contemplating a move to lightweight prior to his meeting with Head, so his recent loss should solidify his decision to drop to 155 pounds.
|No. 7||Jake Ellenberger||vs.||N/A||Jay Hieron|
|No. 18||Charlie Brenneman||vs.||N/A||Kyle Noke|
Following a loss to Martin Kampmann, Ellenberger will attempt to return to the win column against Hieron, who has won 11 of his past 12 fights and nearly dethroned Bellator champion Ben Askren in October.
Hieron took the fight with Ellenberger as a late replacement for the injured Koscheck, and will be stepping into the Octagon for the first time since October 2005.
Back to back losses have chased Kyle Noke from the middleweight division. The Australian will be welcomed to the 170-pound division by Charlie Brenneman, who has also hit a rough patch as a loser of two out of his past three bouts.
With two straight wins over Frankie Edgar, narrow as both victories were, lightweight champion Benson Henderson may have eliminated the former titleholder as a threat to his belt.
As a result, Henderson's goal of becoming one of the most dominant champions in UFC history is now much more realistic.
In his next title defense, Henderson will be forced to face off against Nate Diaz, who earned his spot in a championship fight with a three-fight winning streak since his return to the lightweight division.
Behind Diaz is a long list of deserving challengers, but few of them pose the same threats to Henderson's crown that Edgar did.
|13||Rafael dos Anjos|
- — T.J. O'Brien
- — Ross Pearson
- — Sean Sherk
- — George Sotiropoulos
- — Paul Taylor
- — Abel Trujillo
- — James Vick
|Benson Henderson||Frankie Edgar||Split decision (46-49, 48-47, 48-47)|
|Donald Cerrone||Melvin Guillard||Knockout at 1:16 of Round 1|
|Joe Lauzon||Jamie Varner||Submission at 2:42 of Round 3|
|Anton Kuivanen||Mitch Clarke||Split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)|
Following his second straight loss to Henderson, former 155-pound champion Frankie Edgar may decide to make a move to the featherweight division in hopes of a faster path to another title shot.
However, the drop in weight may cost Edgar the advantage in quickness that led him to great heights in the lightweight division.
Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon aren't going anywhere after picking up come-from-behind wins in their most recent appearances. The lightweight contenders have hit some speed bumps recently, but they continue to creep closer to a lightweight title shot.
In fact, UFC president Dana White announced that Cerrone would meet Anthony Pettis in a title shot eliminator later this year.
|No. 19||Michael Johnson||vs.||No. 32||Danny Castillo
|No. 20||Jacob Volkmann||vs.||No. 26||Shane Roller|
|No. 27||Thiago Tavares||vs.||No. 31||Dennis Hallman
|No. 35||Tim Means||vs.||N/A||Abel Trujillo
|No. 49||Daron Cruickshank ||vs.||No. 50||Henry Martinez|
After a series of huge lightweight bouts, the division will remain busy despite there being only one UFC event in the next month. None of the lightweight matchups at UFC 151 feature big names, but they could produce a number of future contenders.
Jacob Volkmann recently had a five-fight winning streak ended by Paul Sass, but he will have a good opportunity to bounce back against fellow wrestler Shane Roller.
Michael Johnson, who just so happened to start his current win streak with a win over Roller after being submitted by Sass, will also be looking to take a small step toward the Top 10 in a fight against the underrated Danny Castillo.
A move to the featherweight division has turned Dennis Siver into a serious contender, as he picked up a win over Diego Nunes in his first fight at 145 pounds.
At UFC 151, Siver will attempt to take another step closer to a title shot against Eddie Yagin, who picked up a stunning upset win against Mark Hominick in his most recent fight.
If Siver can become a title threat at featherweight, then Frankie Edgar could most certainly benefit from a move to the 145-pound division. Edgar remains one of the best lightweights in the world, with many believing he deserves to be champion right now, but his quickest chance at earning another UFC title could come at featherweight.
|3||Chan Sung Jung|
- — Akira Corassani
- — Andy Ogle
- — Sam Sicilia
- — Javier Vazquez
|Rani Yahya||Josh Grispi||Submission at 3:15 of Round 1|
|Manvel Gamburyan||Michihiro Omigawa||Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)|
|Nik Lentz||Eiji Mitsuoka||Technical knockout at 3:45 of Round 1|
|Nam Phan||Cole Miller||Split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)|
|Dennis Bermudez||Tommy Hayden||Submission at 4:43 of Round 1|
|Antonio Carvalho||Daniel Pineda||Knockout at 1:11 of Round 1|
|Max Holloway||Justin Lawrence||Technical knockout at 4:49 of Round 2|
Once considered a future title contender, Josh Grispi recently continued his collapse, suffering a third straight loss due to a Rani Yahya north-south choke. While the 23-year-old still has plenty of time to improve and return to contending for a title, there's a good chance he will be released from the UFC shortly.
Previously a middle-of-the-pack lightweight, Nik Lentz became an intriguing entrant to the featherweight division with a first-round knockout of Eiji Mitsuoka. Lentz has a long way to climb before he becomes a serious title threat, but he has the tools to make waves at 145 pounds.
In a stand-up battle between two of the most promising young fighters in the featherweight division, Max Holloway dropped Justin Lawrence with a body shot before finishing the former TUF participant in the second round.
Holloway still has to erase a lopsided showing against Dustin Poirier from people's minds before he can become an elite featherweight, but the 20-year-old appears to be a future star.
|No. 7||Dennis Siver||vs.||No. 33||Eddie Yagin|
A win over Diego Nunes has already turned former lightweight Dennis Siver into a contender in the 145-pound division. Nonetheless, the German kickboxer has seemingly received a step back in competition against Eddie Yagin.
Yagin is coming off of a surprising upset over Mark Hominick. However, most saw that fight as a signal of Hominick's drop-off rather than a showing of massive improvement from Yagin.
At UFC 151, Yagin will have a chance to shock the world a second time against Siver.
Renan Barao earned the UFC's interim bantamweight title with his recent victory over Urijah Faber, but there's a chance he's already surpassed Dominick Cruz as the best 135-pound fighter in the world.
Cruz, who is currently recovering from a knee injury, also defeated Faber in a recent appearance, but it could be argued his performance wasn't nearly as convincing as Barao's.
It has not been determined whether or not Barao will defend his interim belt or wait for a title merger with Cruz, but it seems inevitable that the two will meet eventually to determine the top bantamweight fighter in the world.
- — Rueben Duran
- — Azamat Gashimov
- — Hugo Viana
|Renan Barao||Urijah Faber||Unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 49-46)|
|Francisco Rivera||Roland Delorme||Knockout at 4:19 of Round 1|
|Erik Perez||Ken Stone||Technical knockout at 0:17 of Round 1|
|Chico Camus||Dustin Pague||Unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)|
|Bryan Caraway||Mitch Gagnon||Submission at 1:39 of Round 3|
It may be safe to assume from the UFC's silence on the subject that interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao will wait for fellow titleholder Dominick Cruz to return from injury.
If that is the case, the next few months will provide a great chance for rising 135-pound fighters to make a quick move to the front of the line for a title shot against the winner of a Cruz-Barao blockbuster fight.
With two first-round stoppages already recorded during his short UFC career, Erik Perez may be the bantamweight who is making the biggest move at the moment. The Jackson's MMA product can expect a big step up in competition for his next fight, meaning he could throw his name into the hat with Michael McDonald, Mike Easton and others who appear to be leading the charge for a chance to claim UFC gold.
|No. 14||Takeya Mizugaki||vs.||No. 30||Jeff Hougland|
A controversial loss to Chris Cariaso has led to a step back in competition for Takeya Mizugaki, who will take on Jeff Hougland at UFC 151.
Hougland recently saw a nine-fight winning streak come to an end when he received his first significant UFC test against Yves Jabouin.
At UFC on Fox 4, highly-ranked flyweight Ulysses Gomez made his UFC debut against John Moraga. Many expected Gomez to make a strong statement in his first Octagon appearance, but it was Moraga who took advantage of his first fight on MMA's biggest stage.
Moraga stopped Gomez in the first round, separating himself as one of the leading candidates to meet the winner of the UFC's inaugural flyweight title fight between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson.
- — Jussier da Silva
- — Darren Uyenoyama
|John Moraga||Ulysses Gomez||Knockout at 3:46 of Round 1|
Though Ulysses Gomez was the more highly-touted fighter coming into the fight between two UFC debutantes, John Moraga was the one who took advantage of a chance to compete in front of the biggest audience of his career.
Moraga took less than four minutes to put Gomez away, which already places him inside the Top 10 of the UFC's rapidly developing flyweight division.
|No. 4||Yasuhiro Urushitani||vs.||No. 11||John Lineker|
Despite his knockout loss against Joseph Benavidez, Yasuhiro Urushitani remains one of the UFC's best flyweights and he will attempt to prove that against John Lineker at UFC 151.
Lineker also came up short in his UFC debut, as he was submitted by Louis Gaudinot in the second round of a back-and-forth contest.