Top 25 Pound-for-Pound Fighters in the UFC

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2013

Top 25 Pound-for-Pound Fighters in the UFC

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    UFC 158 went down Saturday night, with Georges St. Pierre headlining opposite of Nick Diaz. It was a grudge match that was settled the old-fashioned way: with fists and kicks.

    GSP came out on top, but so did fellow welterweight Johny Hendricks. The win for Hendricks may have earned him a title shot against the long-time champion.

    In the aftermath of UFC 158, here are the updated pound-for-pound rankings. 

25. Chan Sung Jung

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    Division: Featherweight

    Last Fight: Submission victory over Dustin Poirier

    Next Fight: Ricardo Lamas at UFC 162

    Chan Sung Jung is one of the top featherweights in the world skill-wise, but he is also one of the most exciting fighters as well.

    Jung is on an impressive streak, beating the likes of Dustin Poirier, Mark Hominick and Leonard Garcia in all sorts of fun ways. Whether it's by twister or wicked knockout, Jung has has provided great entertainment for all.

    Next up is Lamas in a fight that could push him into a title shot versus Jose Aldo.

24. Eddie Wineland

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Last Fight: Decision victory over Brad Pickett

    Next Fight: vs. Renan Barao at UFC 161

    Eddie Wineland has earned his title shot against Renan Barao by beating the best fighters available at 135 pounds. That is an amazing feat.

    Never in my mind would I have imagined Wineland headlining a pay-per-view, nevertheless any card. Now, he gets his opportunity at gold against the ultra-skilled Barao.

    Plus, consider his current win streak. He has dominated Pickett and knocked out the durable Scott Jorgensen, proving how good Wineland is.

23. Dan Henderson

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    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Last Fight: Decision loss to Lyoto Machida

    Next Fight: Rashad Evans at UFC 161

    Dan Henderson is a long-time participant of the pound-for-pound list, and he deserves it. The man has been successful in three different weight divisions, from middleweight to heavyweight.

    His latest outing saw him take a loss in a lackluster bout against Lyoto Machida, as he wasn't able to land his patented and game-changing "H-Bomb."

    He now faces Rashad Evans in his next fight. It will pit two wrestlers together with powerful hands.

22. John Dodson

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    Division: Flyweight

    Last Fight: Decision loss to Demetrious Johnson

    Next Fight: N/A

    John Dodson is another guy who represents a true pound-for-pound fighter. He has been successful in two weight divisions, competing at both bantamweight and flyweight.

    The former title challenger to Demetrious Johnson has proved his worth with the UFC. This is especially true, as he is one of the few Ultimate Fighter winners to get a title shot at anybody.

21. Chad Mendes

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    Division: Featherweight

    Last Fight: Knockout victory over Yaotzin Meza

    Next Fight: N/A

    Chad Mendes was supposed to fight Clay Guida in his next bout, but Guida is injured and Mendes is without a replacement.

    Mendes has been a top featherweight for a while. His combination of power striking and wrestling has made him a mainstay at the top of the 145-pound division.

    The former title challenger finds himself a fight or two away from another title shot.

20. Carlos Condit

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    Division: Welterweight

    Last Fight: Decision loss to Johny Hendricks

    Next Fight: n/a

    Carlos Condit recently lost his welterweight title bid to Georges St-Pierre, but faced a further setback by losing to Hendricks in a top-contender fight.

    Condit is a combination of stellar kickboxing and slick jiu-jitsu. Though he hasn't won in either of his last two fights, he has proven to be one of the best fighters in the world.

    A win would definitely shoot him back up the pound-for-pound rankings.

19. Vitor Belfort

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    Division: Middleweight

    Last Fight: Knockout victory over Michael Bisping

    Next Fight: Luke Rockhold at UFC on FX 8

    Vitor Belfort has been successful at middleweight and light heavyweight—another true pound-for-pound fighter to make this list.

    His last win was exciting, as he leveled Bisping with a head kick. That win has put him one step closer to a rematch against Anderson Silva.

    He now takes on former Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold. That could be the win to propel him to a title shot.

18. Chris Weidman

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    Division: Middleweight

    Last Fight: Knockout victory over Mark Munoz

    Next Fight: Anderson Silva at UFC 162

    Chris Weidman has earned his title shot against Silva. It is a fight that fans have been calling for since his last win over Munoz.

    With his solid boxing to go along with his world-class wrestling, Weidman has the skills to be a champion.

    Tune in to see if he can achieve gold against the greatest of all time.

17. Urijah Faber

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Last Fight: Submission victory over Ivan Menjivar

    Next Fight: Scott Jorgensen at Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale

    Urijah Faber may not be the best fighter when it comes to title fights, but he wins most of his fights otherwise.

    Faber won his most recent bout against Ivan Menjivar in convincing fashion. The standing rear-naked choke was impressive, to say the least.

    Now, he faces Scott Jorgensen in the headliner of a card. A win could throw him back in the title picture.

16. Gray Maynard

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    Division: Lightweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Clay Guida

    Next Fight: T.J. Grant at UFC 160

    Gray Maynard is a two-time lightweight title challenger. He could be on the verge of a title shot with another win over Grant.

    Maynard's fight against Grant is a tough task. Grant has solid striking to go with a great jiu-jitsu game and is on a great winning streak.

    Maynard needs to use his wrestling and aggression to stifle the surging Canadian.

15. Daniel Cormier

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    Division: Heavyweight

    Last Fight: Knockout victory over Dion Staring

    Next Fight: Frank Mir at UFC on Fox 7

    Daniel Cormier is the hottest commodity in the heavyweight division, and for good reason. The former Olympic wrestler is a powerful striker and great grappler.

    Cormier now faces Frank Mir in his UFC debut for the next Fox installment. The Strikeforce import will see a top-notch jiu-jitsu guy that is not afraid to stand and trade.

    A win may put him against his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez, or he could drop to 205 to fight Jon Jones.

14. Lyoto Machida

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    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Dan Henderson

    Next Fight: n/a

    Lyoto Machida's latest win over Henderson wasn't a memorable performance, but it may get him a title shot rematch against Jon Jones.

    Machida's karate style is tough to deal with, as well as his blitzing style. His first encounter with Jones saw him turn into a heap on the mat when he was choked out by the champion.

    His win over Henderson definitely shot him back up the list.

13. Joseph Benavidez

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    Division: Flyweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Ian McCall

    Next Fight: Darren Uyenoyama at UFC on Fox 7

    Joseph Benavidez is a former title challenger at bantamweight and flyweight. He is a true pound-for-pound fighter.

    His latest outing saw him put away Ian McCall, a former No.1 in the flyweight division. That win has put him back on track to being the top contender in the division.

    He now faces Darren Uyenoyama. A win over him would make him the top contender to Demetrious Johnson's gold.

12. Frankie Edgar

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    Division: Featherweight

    Last Fight: Decision loss to Jose Aldo

    Next Fight: n/a

    Yet another man who exemplifies a pound-for-pound fighter, Frankie Edgar has held a title at lightweight and challenged for a title at featherweight.

    Edgar has the combination of top-notch boxing and wrestling that will keep him as a top contender for years to come. For now, he is without an opponent, but a bout with Cub Swanson would be fun to watch.

11. Johny Hendricks

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    Division: Welterweight

    Last Fight: Decision victory over Carlos Condit

    Next Fight: n/a

    Johny Hendricks has likely earned his title shot against Georges St-Pierre. It is a title shot he has been waiting for.

    Hendricks won his last fight over Condit using a combination of power punching and wrestling. It was a Fight of the Night performance that earned him an extra bump in his paycheck.

    We will see how he fares against GSP, should he fight him next.

10. Junior Dos Santos

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    Division: Heavyweight

    Last Fight: Decision loss to Cain Velasquez

    Next Fight: Mark Hunt at UFC 160

    Junior dos Santos recently lost his heavyweight title to Cain Velasquez in a rematch. Now, he must get back on his feet to make a run at the title.

    First in his way is Hunt. The jaw-rattling striker stepped in for Alistair Overeem in an attempt to get a title shot against Velasquez.

    Dos Santos will try and ruin that dream for his benefit. A win would likely set up the third bout between JDS and Velasquez. 

9. Renan Barao

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Last Fight: Submission victory over Michael McDonald

    Next Fight: Eddie Wineland at UFC 161

    Renan Barao has become the best bantamweight in the UFC in Dominick Cruz's absence. The interim champion has yet to be defeated under the Zuffa banner (30-1 overall).

    Barao now finds himself across the cage from Eddie Wineland in his next fight. It will test Barao's standup skills, as Wineland is a great kickboxer.

    Should he win, the Brazilian champ will move on up in these rankings.

8. Benson Henderson

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    Division: Lightweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Nate Diaz

    Next Fight: Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7

    Benson Henderson has solidified himself as the best lightweight in the world with wins over Frankie Edgar and Diaz. Now, he faces a Strikeforce champion in Gilbert Melendez.

    Melendez has long been discussed as a top lightweight, despite not being in the UFC. Henderson will try and derail the hype with a solid win over the Cesar Gracie disciple.

7. Demetrious Johnson

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    Division: Flyweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over John Dodson

    Next Fight: n/a

    John Moraga may be the next challenger to Demetrious Johnson's belt, but it will be a tough task. Johnson has proven to be the best 125er in the world so far, beating Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez and Dodson to solidify his spot at the top.

    Johnson's combination of speed and wrestling have made him almost unbeatable. He was successful at bantamweight, but his drop to his natural flyweight has been brilliant so far.

6. Dominick Cruz

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    Division: Bantamweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Demetrious Johnson

    Next Fight: n/a

    Dominick Cruz has been injured for a while, but he is still the premier bantamweight in the world. Should he not compete soon, he may be stripped of his title, though.

    Cruz owns wins over Demetrious Johnson, Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez in his career. That type of resume deserves great respect.

    Fans anxiously await his return in the meanwhile, as his knee has prevented him from a return to the Octagon.

5. Cain Velasquez

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    Division: Heavyweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Junior dos Santos

    Next Fight: Antonio Silva at UFC 160

    Cain Velasquez is now a two-time UFC champion at heavyweight. His win over dos Santos was a brilliant performance, combining power striking, wrestling and cardio to outlast the champ and reclaim his throne.

    Now he rematches Silva for the belt. The first fight was a manhandling, as Silva was destroyed by Velasquez.

    A win would push Velasquez into talks of the top three.

4. Jose Aldo

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    Division: Featherweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Frankie Edgar

    Next Fight: Anthony Pettis at UFC 163

    Jose Aldo is without a doubt the best featherweight in the world. He has proven that by dominating all the competition he has faced.

    Now he faces Pettis, a former WEC champion at lightweight that could give him a difficult fight. Both men match up well striking-wise, which could lead to an amazing fight.

    With wins over Edgar, Chad Mendes and more, there is no doubt Aldo is top five in the world.

3. Jon Jones

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    Division: Light Heavyweight

    Last Fight: Submission victory over Vitor Belfort

    Next Fight: Chael Sonnen at UFC 159

    Jon Jones is the example of the new breed of MMA fighters. He is well-rounded, athletic and possesses a killer instinct second to none.

    His last win came at the expense of Vitor Belfort, who he submitted with a nasty keylock. Now, he meets opposite of fellow TUF coach Chael Sonnen.

2. Georges St-Pierre

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    Division: Welterweight

    Last Fight: Decision win over Nick Diaz

    Next Fight: n/a

    Now that Georges St-Pierre has disposed of Diaz, he can focus on his next opponent: Johny Hendricks.

    GSP used wrestling and a solid jab to outwork the cardio machine that is Nick Diaz. He hasn't lost in years, which is a testament to his world-class skills.

    Should he dispose of Hendricks, a superfight should take place. That is, should GSP take on that opportunity. 

1. Anderson Silva

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    Division: Middleweight

    Last Fight: Knockout victory over Stephan Bonnar

    Next Fight: Chris Weidman at UFC 162

    Anderson Silva is the long-time No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. There is no doubt about that.

    Silva is undefeated in the UFC, beating all comers at middleweight and light heavyweight. His latest win saw him dismantle Stephen Bonnar with a knee to the chest—a win that was impressive to say the least.

    Now he has Chris Weidman on his plate. It just might be one of the biggest tests that Silva has faced in his career at this point.

    A win would continue to solidify his legendary status.