July 2012 MMA Rankings: The 10 Best in Each Division

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterJuly 27, 2012

July 2012 MMA Rankings: The 10 Best in Each Division

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    Once per month, I put together a list of rankings in each weight class, from heavyweight down to flyweight, for the USA Today consensus MMA rankings.

    I'm going to begin sharing those rankings with you, starting with my latest ballot.

    These rankings are my own. They are not affiliated with the official Bleacher Report MMA rankings and should not be considered the consensus view of anyone else on the Caged In or Bleacher Report staff.

    With that disclaimer out of the way, let's get started with the big boys at heavyweight. 

Heavyweight

1 of 8

    1. Junior dos Santos
    2. Cain Velasquez
    3. Daniel Cormier
    4. Alistair Overeem
    5. Fabricio Werdum
    6. Frank Mir
    7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
    8. Josh Barnett
    9. Antonio Silva
    10. Mike Russow

    Also considered: Cheick Kongo, Travis Browne, Cole Konrad, Mark Hunt

    Notes:

    —Dos Santos (1) and Velasquez (2) will meet sometime in the fall, but we don't really know when. The fight was originally scheduled for UFC 152 in Toronto, but an apparent injury to Dos Santos scratched the bout. I say "apparent" because nobody's really been able to say for sure if Dos Santos was actually injured or not.

    —Looking at the UFC's schedule for the remainder of the year, I'm not sure where I'd put the fight. With most of the UFC's pay-per-views already packed in terms of main events, the best-case scenario might reside with the annual year-end show in December.

    —Daniel Cormier (3) will get a chance to cement his place near the top of the rankings when he faces UFC star Frank Mir in his final Strikeforce bout in October. It's a pivotal bout for both men. A win for Mir would give him a shortcut back to the top of the division.

    —Mike Russow (10) drops a notch after being handled by Fabricio Werdum (5) at UFC 147. 

Light Heavyweight

2 of 8

    1. Jon Jones
    2. Dan Henderson
    3. Rashad Evans
    4. Mauricio Rua
    5. Lyoto Machida
    6. Phil Davis
    7. Alexander Gustafsson
    8. Ryan Bader
    9. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
    10. Quinton Jackson

    Also considered: Forrest Griffin, Rafael Cavalcante, Gegard Mousasi

    Notes:

    —Jones (1) and Henderson (2) will face off in early September. It's a fight that heavily favors Jones, but Henderson's power right hand and wrestling skill can't be discounted. 

    —Mauricio Rua (4) faces a lose-lose proposition when he faces Brandon Vera at next week's UFC on Fox event in Los Angeles. A win won't mean that much for "Shogun," but a loss would be catastrophic. 

    —Another intriguing Fox bout pits Lyoto Machida (5) against Ryan Bader (8). The loser of this fight will find himself on the outside looking in for the foreseeable future. The winner will stay near title contention, though it'll be hard to put them against Jones (should he beat Henderson, that is) considering the way he handled both of them in previous fights. But that's par for the course with Jones.

Middleweight

3 of 8

    1. Anderson Silva
    2. Chris Weidman
    3. Chael Sonnen
    4. Michael Bisping
    5. Tim Boetsch
    6. Mark Munoz
    7. Vitor Belfort
    8. Luke Rockhold
    9. Yushin Okami
    10. Brian Stann

    Also considered: Alan Belcher, Hector Lombard, Rousimar Palhares

    Notes:

    —Weidman (2) makes the biggest leap this month, jumping up four spots on the strength of his dominating win over Munoz (6). He's the odds-on favorite to get the next crack at the title if Silva decides he wants to return to the cage sooner than later.

    —Michael Bisping (4) and Brian Stann (10) face off in September at UFC 152. The fight will have big title implications, and a dominant win by either man will likely put him in range of Silva.

Welterweight

4 of 8

    1. Carlos Condit
    2. Nick Diaz
    3. Johny Hendricks
    4. Jon Fitch
    5. Martin Kampmann
    6. Jake Ellenberger
    7. Josh Koscheck
    8. Ben Askren
    9. Jake Shields
    10. Rory MacDonald

    Due to USA Today's balloting rules, Georges St-Pierre is ineligible for ranking due to a long period of inactivity.

    Also considered: Nate Marquardt, Mike Pierce, Tyron Woodley

    Notes:

    —As I noted above, St-Pierre is ineligible for ranking due to inactivity. Condit (1) assumes the top spot, at least until he faces St-Pierre in November.

    —Ellenberger (6) and Koscheck (7) face off in an interesting clash in the co-main event of September's UFC 151 card.

    —MacDonald (10) has a chance to grow his profile immensely with a win over B.J. Penn at UFC 152. They're also the first two fighters to willingly submit to VADA drug testing. Both fighters will submit to random urine and blood tests in the weeks leading up to their fight, with the results made public immediately.

Lightweight

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    1. Benson Henderson
    2. Gilbert Melendez
    3. Frankie Edgar
    4. Gray Maynard
    5. Nate Diaz
    6. Jim Miller
    7. Anthony Pettis
    8. Clay Guida
    9. Donald Cerrone
    10. Michael Chandler

    Also considered: Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Rick Hawn, Pat Healy

    Notes:

    —Henderson (1) and Edgar (3) will redo their classic February battle when they face off at UFC 150. Diaz (5) awaits the winner, at least according to current UFC plans.

    —Melendez (2) has a new fight booked: He'll face the unranked Pat Healy in late September. The Strikeforce champion is quickly running out of potential opponents, but Healy is a tough and durable out for anyone. 

    —Cerrone (9) will attempt to claw his way back into title contention when he faces Melvin Guillard in the co-main event of UFC 150.

Featherweight

6 of 8

    1. Jose Aldo
    2. Pat Curran
    3. Chad Mendes
    4. Ricardo Lamas
    5. Hatsu Hioki
    6. Dennis Siver
    7. Diego Nunes
    8. Erik Koch
    9. Chan Sung Jung
    10. Dustin Poirier

    Also considered: Yuri Alcantara, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Patricio Friere

    Notes:

    —Aldo (1) will finally return to the cage in October when he defends his title against Koch (8) in the main event of UFC 153, and he'll do it in front of his fellow Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro. If Aldo gets past Koch as expected, it's likely that Jung (9) will be waiting in the wings.

    —Mendes (3) staked his position near the top of the division with a violent mauling of Cody McKenzie. He's at least one more win away from a return bout with Aldo, but he'll be a name that's constantly near the top of the division.

Bantamweight

7 of 8

    1. Dominick Cruz
    2. Renan Barao
    3. Urijah Faber
    4. Brian Bowles
    5. Michael McDonald
    6. Brad Pickett
    7. Eduardo Dantas
    8. Eddie Wineland
    9. Scott Jorgensen
    10. Miguel Torres

    Also considered: Raphael Assuncao, Bibiano Fernandes, Zach Makovsky

    Notes:

    —Barao (2) may have captured a useless belt with his win over Faber (3) at UFC 149, but he also earned something more important: an eventual date with Cruz (1). But considering that Cruz is likely on the shelf until next summer, Barao will likely have to defend his belt at least one time—if not twice—before facing the real bantamweight champion. McDonald (5) remains the best candidate for Barao's title.

    —Faber's UFC 149 loss sent him spiraling out of the title picture, but it may have sent him directly into a fight fans have long wanted to see: Faber vs. Torres (10). Both fighters are coming off losses, so it makes perfect sense. The timing has never been better for two of the sport's pioneering smaller fighters to finally clash.

Flyweight

8 of 8

    1. Joseph Benavidez
    2. Demetrious Johnson
    3. Ian McCall
    4. Jussier Da Silva
    5. Yasuhiro Urushitani
    6. Darrell Montague
    7. Mamoru Yamaguchi
    8. John Dodson
    9. Chris Cariaso
    10. Louis Gaudinot

    Also considered: Timothy Elliot, Ulysses Gomez, Nam Jin Lo

    Notes:

    —Benavidez (1) and Johnson (2) will meet to determine the UFC's first flyweight champion in the main event of September's UFC 152. It's a historic fight, but it should also be a fun one. Benavidez and Johnson are both highly skilled fighters, and the speed at which they operate should make for a thrilling bout. Benavidez has true knockout power in both hands and is rightly the favorite going into the bout, but Johnson can't be overlooked.