Benson Henderson picked up another controversial win at UFC on Fox 7, defending his lightweight championship with a split decision against former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez.
The closely contested bout saw Melendez validate his standing among the best 155-pound fighters in MMA. Though he came up short on the scorecards, Melendez should only be one big win away from getting a second shot at UFC gold.
UFC on Fox 7 also saw Strikeforce veterans Daniel Cormier and Josh Thomson pick up important wins in their UFC debuts. With respective victories over Frank Mir and Nate Diaz, Cormier and Thomson put themselves within striking distance of title shots.
With UFC on Fox 7 in the rear-view mirror and UFC 159 approaching, let's take a look at the latest official UFC rankings.
Benson Henderson may not have been dominant at UFC on Fox 7, but the lightweight champion continues to win and has already matched BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar with three consecutive title defenses for the UFC lightweight record.
Despite his narrow loss to Henderson, Melendez did not sneak into the latest UFC pound-for-pound rankings.
On Saturday, Jon Jones will look to tie a record for consecutive title defenses in the light heavyweight division. A win over Chael Sonnen would give Jones a fifth straight win as the 205-pound champion, which would even him with Tito Ortiz.
Official UFC Pound-for-Pound Rankings
- Anderson Silva
- Jon Jones
- Georges St-Pierre
- Jose Aldo
- Benson Henderson
- Cain Velasquez
- Demetrious Johnson
- Renan Barao
- Dominick Cruz
- Frankie Edgar
UFC on Fox 7 Pound-for-Pound Fights
- No. 5 Benson Henderson defeated Gilbert Melendez by split decision.
UFC 159 Pound-for-Pound Fights
- No. 2 Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen
Daniel Cormier established himself as one of the top contenders in the heavyweight division by beating Frank Mir on Saturday. Although Cormier didn't make a statement with his win, the former Olympic wrestler smartly used his strengths to control Mir along the cage and ensure a safe route to victory.
With his win on Saturday, Cormier surpassed Fabricio Werdum for the No. 2 spot in the UFC heavyweight rankings. Meanwhile, Mir dropped below Roy Nelson, who he defeated comfortably in May 2011.
At UFC 159, Nelson will try to prove he's ready to take on elite competition again by beating fringe contender Cheick Kongo. Kongo has won three of his past four fights and will also be looking to show improvement against tough opposition.
Official UFC Heavyweight Rankings
Champion: Cain Velasquez
- Junior dos Santos
- Daniel Cormier (+1)
- Fabricio Werdum (-1)
- Antonio Silva
- Alistair Overeem
- Roy Nelson (+1)
- Frank Mir (-1)
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
- Mark Hunt
- Travis Browne
UFC on Fox 7 Heavyweight Fights
- No. 2 Daniel Cormier defeated No. 7 Frank Mir by unanimous decision.
UFC 159 Heavyweight Fights
- No. 6 Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo
After being absent from UFC on Fox 7, the 205-pound class will be featured heavily at UFC 159.
The event is headlined by a title fight between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen, who coached against each other on TUF 17. With a win, Jones would tie the UFC light heavyweight record for consecutive title defenses.
Additionally, Phil Davis will attempt to maintain his spot in the rankings against Vinny Magalhaes. The bout between the NCAA champion wrestler and jiu-jitsu world champion should turn into an outstanding grappling match.
Official UFC Light Heavyweight Rankings
Champion: Jon Jones
- Lyoto Machida
- Alexander Gustafsson
- Dan Henderson
- Glover Teixeira
- Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
- Rashad Evans
- Mauricio Rua
- Phil Davis
- Gegard Mousasi
- Ryan Bader
UFC on Fox 7 Light Heavyweight Fights
UFC 159 Light Heavyweight Fights
- (C) Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen
- No. 8 Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes
- Gian Villante vs. Ovince St-Preux
Yoel Romero, a Strikeforce import, made the biggest impression on the middleweight division at UFC on Fox 7. The former Olympic wrestling medalist showed off his striking ability by knocking out Clifford Starks with a spectacular flying knee.
Also, Francis Carmont remained undefeated on Saturday with a decision win over Lorenz Larkin. Although he continues to win, Carmont has now won back-to-back fights in controversial fashion and hasn't looked like a fighter worthy of a step up in competition.
On Saturday, Top-10 middleweights will be back in action, as Michael Bisping faces Alan Belcher in a battle for both fighters to remain in title contention. Having both lost in their most recent fights, Bisping and Belcher need to get back on track to prove they're still title threats.
Official UFC Middleweight Rankings
Champion: Anderson Silva
- Chris Weidman
- Vitor Belfort
- Yushin Okami
- Michael Bisping
- Luke Rockhold
- Costa Philippou
- Mark Munoz
- Ronaldo Souza
- Chael Sonnen
- Alan Belcher
UFC on Fox 7 Middleweight Fights
- Francis Carmont defeated Lorenz Larkin by unanimous decision.
- Yoel Romero defeated Clifford Starks by first-round knockout.
UFC 159 Middleweight Fights
- No. 4 Michael Bisping vs. No. 10 Alan Belcher
It's getting harder to ignore Matt Brown, who picked up his fifth straight win by knocking out the promising Jordan Mein at UFC on Fox 7.
Once on the verge of being cut from the UFC roster after losing four fights over a five-bout span, the 32-year-old Brown is now nearing welterweight contender status. He didn't break into the Top 10 with his win over Mein, but Brown should be getting a shot at a top 170-pound fighter in the near future.
Though no Top-10 welterweights will be competing at UFC 159, a matchup between 170-pound fighters Nick Catone and James Head is expected to be contested.
Official UFC Welterweight Rankings
Champion: Georges St-Pierre
- Johny Hendricks
- Carlos Condit
- Rory MacDonald
- Jake Ellenberger
- Demian Maia
- Nick Diaz
- Martin Kampmann
- Tarec Saffiedine
- Robbie Lawler
- Josh Koscheck
UFC on Fox 7 Welterweight Fights
- Matt Brown defeated Jordan Mein by second-round knockout.
UFC 159 Welterweight Fights
- Nick Catone vs. James Head
The lightweight division was busy at UFC on Fox 7.
Strikeforce veterans Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Jorge Masvidal and Roger Bowling were all welcomed to the Octagon. Thomson and Masvidal each picked up important wins, while Melendez performed well against the UFC 155-pound champion.
Despite knocking out Nate Diaz on Saturday, though, Thomson still sits below the Cesar Gracie-trained fighter in the lightweight rankings. Diaz did fall two spots and is now ranked below Donald Cerrone, whom he defeated in December 2011.
At UFC 159, Pat Healy will make his way from Strikeforce to UFC competition in an intriguing matchup with Jim Miller. After missing out on a Strikeforce title shot due to a Melendez injury, Healy could establish himself as a UFC contender by beating Miller on Saturday.
Official UFC Lightweight Rankings
Champion: Benson Henderson
- Gilbert Melendez
- Anthony Pettis
- Gray Maynard
- Jim Miller (+1)
- Donald Cerrone (+1)
- Nate Diaz (-2)
- T.J. Grant
- Josh Thomson (NR)
- Rafael dos Anjos (-1)
- Khabib Nurmagomedov (-1)
UFC on Fuel TV 9 Lightweight Fights
- (C) Benson Henderson defeated No. 1 Gilbert Melendez by split decision.
- No. 8 Josh Thomson defeated No. 6 Nate Diaz by second-round knockout.
- Myles Jury defeated Ramsey Nijem by second-round knockout.
- Jorge Masvidal defeated Tim Means by unanimous decision.
- Anthony Njokuani defeated Roger Bowling by second-round knockout.
UFC 159 Lightweight Fights
- No. 4 Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy
- Rustam Khabilov vs. Yancy Medeiros
Chad Mendes continued on his gradual path back to featherweight title contention at UFC on Fox 7, where he knocked out the rising Darren Elkins in the first round.
Although he's widely considered the No. 1 contender in the 145-pound class, Mendes will probably need another big win before getting a second shot at the belt. In order to get that big win, Mendes will need an originally scheduled opponent to remain healthy for once.
At UFC 159, Leonard Garcia will attempt to retain his UFC employment by avoiding a fifth straight loss against Cody McKenzie.
Official UFC Featherweight Rankings
Champion: Jose Aldo
- Chad Mendes
- Ricardo Lamas
- Frankie Edgar
- Chan Sung Jung
- Cub Swanson
- Dennis Siver
- Dustin Poirier
- Clay Guida
- Nik Lentz
- Erik Koch
UFC on Fox 7 Featherweight Fights
- No. 1 Chad Mendes defeated Darren Elkins by first-round knockout.
UFC 159 Featherweight Fights
- Leonard Garcia vs. Cody McKenzie
- Steven Siler vs. Kurt Holobaugh
T.J. Dillashaw crept closer to becoming a Top-10 bantamweight by knocking out Hugo Viana at UFC on Fox 7. A member of a strengthening Team Alpha Male, the 27-year-old Dillashaw has a high ceiling and should be a fighter to watch in the years to come.
Another rising bantamweight talent, Erik Perez, was expected to compete at UFC 159; however, the Greg Jackson-trained fighter has been injured.
Filling in as a late replacement, Bryan Caraway will now meet Johnny Bedford in the lone bantamweight bout on Saturday's fight card.
Official UFC Bantamweight Rankings
Champion: Dominick Cruz
- Renan Barao (interim champion)
- Urijah Faber
- Michael McDonald
- Eddie Wineland
- Brad Pickett
- Raphael Assuncao
- Scott Jorgensen
- Brian Bowles
- Mike Easton
- Ivan Menjivar
UFC on Fox 7 Bantamweight Fights
- T.J. Dillashaw defeated Hugo Viana by first-round knockout.
UFC 159 Bantamweight Fights
- Bryan Caraway vs. Johnny Bedford
Joseph Benavidez continued to roll at UFC on Fox 7, putting Darren Uyenoyama away with strikes in the second round.
Although John Moraga is next in line for a flyweight title shot, Benavidez has established himself as the most significant threat to champion Demetrious Johnson. While Benavidez lost to Johnson in September, he's quickly making his case for a rematch.
There will be no flyweight fights contested at UFC 159, but John Lineker will welcome Azamat Gashimov to the division at UFC on FX 8 in May.
Official UFC Flyweight Rankings
Champion: Demetrious Johnson
- Joseph Benavidez
- John Dodson
- Ian McCall
- John Moraga
- Jussier da Silva
- Louis Gaudinot
- Chris Cariaso
- John Lineker (+1)
- Darren Uyenoyama (-1)
- Tim Elliott
UFC on Fox 7 Flyweight Fights
- No. 1 Joseph Benavidez defeated No. 8 Darren Uyenoyama by second-round knockout.
UFC 159 Flyweight Fights
Though no women's bantamweight fights appeared on the UFC on Fox 7 fight card, the division should start seeing more frequent competition.
At UFC 159, former Olympic wrestling medalist Sara McMann and Sheila Gaff will make their UFC debuts.
Because of her strong wrestling background, McMann is considered one of the biggest threats to UFC champion Ronda Rousey.
Official UFC Women's Bantamweight Rankings
Champion: Ronda Rousey
- Cat Zingano
- Sarah Kaufman
- Miesha Tate
- Liz Carmouche
- Alexis Davis
- Sarah McMann
- Amanda Nunes
- Julie Kedzie
- Sheila Gaff
- Germaine de Randamie
UFC on Fox 7 Women's Bantamweight Fights
UFC 159 Women's Bantamweight Fights
- No. 6 Sara McMann vs. No. 10 Sheila Gaff