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UFC Rankings for Each Weight Division Following UFC 156

Sean SmithAnalyst IFebruary 4, 2013

UFC Rankings for Each Weight Division Following UFC 156

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    The UFC has released official rankings for the first time in its history. 

    Following UFC 156, 90 members of the MMA media were given the opportunity to rank the 10 best UFC fighters in each division along with the 10 best pound-for-pound fighters in the world's top MMA organization.

    Though the rankings will give some much-needed perspective, they're sure to cause some controversy and probably won't have a major impact on matchmaking. UFC president Dana White has said he'll still make the fights people want to see (via Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com).

    On Monday, the first set of rankings was released on UFC.com. Let's take a division-by-division look at how those rankings turned out.

Heavyweight

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    The heavyweight division is currently topped by Cain Velasquez, who regained his belt with a dominant performance in a rematch with Junior dos Santos. 

    Despite his loss to Velasquez, dos Santos remained near the top of the polls. Only three voters decided not to rank the Brazilian as the top heavyweight behind Velasquez. Two of those media members gave the top spot to Daniel Cormier, while a third went with Fabricio Werdum as the second-best heavyweight in the world.

    Champion: Cain Velasquez

    1. Junior dos Santos
    2. Fabricio Werdum
    3. Daniel Cormier
    4. Antonio Silva
    5. Frank Mir
    6. Alistair Overeem
    7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
    8. Roy Nelson
    9. Stefan Struve
    10. Shane Carwin

    While some gripes could be had with the ordering, the rankings didn't turn out too badly in this division, as all of the serious contenders are included.

    However, Shane Carwin is closing in on two years of inactivity. As these rankings develop, the UFC and FightMetric may want to consider adding an inactivity clause where fighters who have not competed for a certain amount of time will not be eligible for ranking.

Light Heavyweight

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    The gap between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and the rest of the 205-pound division seems to be widening quickly.

    Many of the division's legends are beginning to fade, and the up-and-coming contenders have not been able to take them out with authority. 

    Though he hasn't fought in more than one year, almost all of the voters named Dan Henderson as the top challenger in the light heavyweight division. Lyoto Machida, Alexander Gustafsson and Rashad Evans were named the second-best UFC light heavyweight on one ballot each. 

    Champion: Jon Jones

    1. Dan Henderson
    2. Lyoto Machida
    3. Alexander Gustafsson
    4. Glover Teixeira
    5. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
    6. Rashad Evans
    7. Mauricio Rua
    8. Phil Davis
    9. Ryan Bader
    10. Gegard Mousasi

    Again, there is some slightly debatable positioning going on here, but you'll have that with any rankings. 

    My biggest issue with these rankings was the fact that a media member who will not be named here actually positioned Evans directly behind Jones, despite the fact that he lost to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira only the night before voting.

    Thankfully, the remaining panel members balanced out that one individual's questionable rankings, and Evans ultimately wound up in the sixth position.

Middleweight

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    After all the posturing for a fight with welterweight titleholder Georges St-Pierre, it's starting to look like Anderson Silva's next fight will be a middleweight title defense against Chris Weidman.

    Weidman and Vitor Belfort combined for all but one of the votes for top middleweight contender. The only other middleweight to receive a vote for the top spot behind Silva was Hector Lombard.

    Champion: Anderson Silva

    1. Chris Weidman
    2. Vitor Belfort
    3. Michael Bisping
    4. Yushin Okami
    5. Mark Munoz
    6. Costa Philippou
    7. Luke Rockhold
    8. Hector Lombard
    9. Alan Belcher
    10. Tim Boetsch

    Following his loss to Costa Philippou, Tim Boetsch's come-from-behind win over Yushin Okami and controversial victory against Lombard make it difficult to accurately rank the middleweight division fighters, but it's hard to make a strong argument against the ordering the media came up with here.

Welterweight

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    Following his victory over former interim champion Carlos Condit, Georges St-Pierre is alone atop the welterweight division once again. While the loss was a setback for Condit, four voters still saw him as the second-best welterweight on the UFC roster.

    Most of the rest of the panelists viewed Johny Hendricks as the top contender at 170 pounds, while Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald were also given looks as the next-best fighter in the division behind St-Pierre.

    Champion: Georges St-Pierre

    1. Johny Hendricks
    2. Carlos Condit
    3. Nick Diaz
    4. Rory MacDonald
    5. Demian Maia
    6. Jake Ellenberger
    7. Martin Kampmann
    8. Josh Koscheck
    9. Jon Fitch
    10. Tarec Saffiedine

    The voters did an excellent job with the 170-pound rankings for the most part. Jake Ellenberger being ranked above Martin Kampmann despite losing to him only two appearances ago is the lone head-scratching decision here.

Lightweight

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    After back-to-back narrow wins over Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson made his first big statement as lightweight champion by dominating Nate Diaz for five rounds.

    Following the loss, Diaz did not receive any votes as the second-best UFC lightweight. Instead, most of the media chose Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis as the top lightweight contenders, while two panelists considered Gray Maynard the best 155-pound fighter behind Henderson

    Champion: Benson Henderson

    1. Gilbert Melendez
    2. Anthony Pettis
    3. Gray Maynard
    4. Nate Diaz
    5. Jim Miller
    6. Donald Cerrone
    7. T.J. Grant
    8. Rafael dos Anjos
    9. Joe Lauzon
    10. Khabib Nurmagomedov

    It's fair to say Melendez is one of the best lightweights in the world following his run as Strikeforce champion. However, it's also surprising that so many saw him as the second-best UFC lightweight coming off of a split-decision win over Josh Thomson, who didn't even make it into the top 10 rankings.

Featherweight

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    With a win over former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo has cemented himself as the greatest featherweight in MMA history. He is beginning to close the gap between himself and fellow Brazilian titleholder Anderson Silva in pound-for-pound rankings.

    Though he hasn't won at 145 pounds, Edgar received 12 votes as the second-best featherweight on the UFC roster. Still, many ranked him much lower, and that resulted in Chad Mendes earning the top spot among the 145-pound contenders.

    Champion: Jose Aldo

    1. Chad Mendes
    2. Ricardo Lamas
    3. Chan Sung Jung
    4. Frankie Edgar
    5. Dennis Siver
    6. Cub Swanson
    7. Dustin Poirier
    8. Nik Lentz
    9. Erik Koch
    10. Clay Guida

    A strong case can be made for ranking Edgar directly behind Aldo, but it is also easy to see the reasoning behind ranking him significantly lower until he picks up some victories at featherweight. With that being said, these rankings are very respectable.

Bantamweight

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    Though it initially looked like he was going to wait for a title-merging fight with Dominick Cruz, Renan Barao will now defend the interim bantamweight title against Michael McDonald later this month.

    One of the most promising young bantamweights in the world, McDonald was one of only two fighters to be ranked in the spot right behind Barao. Urijah Faber also received votes as the top contender in the division.

    Champion: Dominick Cruz

    1. Renan Barao (Interim champion)
    2. Michael McDonald
    3. Urijah Faber
    4. Eddie Wineland
    5. Brad Pickett
    6. Brian Bowles
    7. Rafael Assuncao
    8. Scott Jorgensen
    9. Mike Easton
    10. Ivan Menjivar

    Michael McDonald has the potential to be the best 135-pound fighter in the world. However, the most impressive win over his career so far was a knockout of Miguel Torres, who has completely fallen off the map. I don't think the voters took that into consideration in ranking McDonald so highly before beating a bantamweight who is highly ranked right now.

    Aside from that, it is hard to have any major gripes with the ordering of these top bantamweights.

Flyweight

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    Demetrious Johnson successfully defended his flyweight title for the first time at UFC on Fox 6, beating John Dodson in an entertaining five-round contest.

    Though Dodson gave Johnson a very tough fight, he only received five votes as the second-best flyweight on the UFC roster. The rest of the panel went with Joseph Benavidez, who fought to a split decision with "Mighty Mouse" in the UFC's first-ever 125-pound title fight.

    Champion: Demetrious Johnson

    1. Joseph Benavidez
    2. John Dodson
    3. Ian McCall
    4. John Moraga
    5. Jussier da Silva
    6. Louis Gaudinot
    7. Chris Cariaso
    8. John Lineker
    9. Darren Uyenoyama
    10. Ulysses Gomez

    This has to be somewhat embarrassing for Tim Elliott and Phil Harris, the only UFC flyweights not to find a spot on the rankings. As the division develops and deepens, lesser fighters will be singled out by these rankings, which are very accurate at the moment. 

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