UFC Power Rankings: Which Fighters Have the Best Odds of Capturing Gold in 2017?

Chad Dundas@@chaddundasMMA Lead WriterMarch 30, 2017

UFC Power Rankings: Which Fighters Have the Best Odds of Capturing Gold in 2017?

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    [Editor's note: This list was updated on 4/26/17 to reflect changes in the UFC landscape.]

    The UFC experienced unprecedented championship turnover during 2016.

    All told, eight new champions were crowned inside the Octagon last year, including the emergence of young lions like men's bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt and ascendence of surprising veterans like middleweight titlist Michael Bisping.

    Early on, 2017 gave us us one additional champion, after Germaine de Randamie defeated Holly Holm to become the company's inaugural women's featherweight titles at UFC 208.

    But what does the future hold for the rest of 2017?

    Will it be another year of wholesale change at the top? Or will some consistency emerge, as Daniel Cormier's win over Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 seemed to indicate? Can a few of these fledgling champions establish themselves as dominant, dependable draws?

    Glad you asked. With the fight company's spring menu of fights well under way, here's a look at the challengers most likely to win UFC gold in 2017.

    Odds are the writer's own unless otherwise noted.

No. 1 Jon Jones

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    Jon Jones (Previously No. 4)

    Division: Light heavyweight
    Age: 29
    Record: 22-1 overall, 16-1 UFC
    Last five: 5-0
    Next fight: Jones is expected to rematch Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 on July 29.
    Probability of winning the title in 2017: 1-to-4

    One big change in Jones' situation has the former 205-pound champion rocketing up this list to take over the top spot: UFC President Dana White confirmed to the media on April 17 that so long as Jones keeps his nose clean until he comes off suspension in July, he'll rematch Cormier for the title at UFC 214.

    “Cormier is available to fight ...,” White said, via MMA Junkie. "If Jon Jones is ready to fight [by UFC 214] on July 29, we’ll see the Jones versus Cormier rematch finally.”

    And look, let's be real for a minute: We all expect Jones to be ready.

    The only thing standing between "Bones" and another run with the UFC light heavyweight title is him finishing out that pesky suspension and turning down a "tune-up" fight in favor of taking on Cormier again. 

    If he can do that, he'll likely be champion again by the end of the night on July 29.

    If not? Let's just say a reality where Jones buys a Harley and spends a few years just roaming the earth is also disturbingly easy to imagine right now.

No. 2 Junior Dos Santos

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    Junior Dos Santos (Previously No. 8)

    Division: Heavyweight
    Age: 33
    Record: 18-4 overall, 12-3 UFC
    Last five: 3-2
    Next fight: Dos Santos faces Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title at UFC 211 on May 13.
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: Pick 'em.

    The likable Dos Santos was flying under the radar for much of the lead-up to his title bout with Miocic—odd considering JDS already has one win over the current champion, albeit in a decision after a close, back-and-forth fight in December 2014.

    Perhaps Dos Santos has slipped through the cracks a bit because of an underwhelming 3-3 record dating back to the end of 2012 and the notion he's absorbed more than his fair share of punishment despite being just 33.

    With the fight now just a couple weeks away, however, JDS makes the single biggest leap of any athlete on these power rankings, owing to continually tightening odds that as of this writing, see him as just a slight underdog.

    Smart money is still probably on Miococ here, but anything can and will happen in the unpredictable heavyweight division. The mere fact JDS is facing Miocic in the champ's dreaded second title defense (historically a big hurdle for heavyweight champs) gives him as good a chance as anybody on the roster to win UFC gold.

No. 3 Max Holloway

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    Max Holloway (Previously No. 5)

    Division: Men's featherweight
    Age: 25
    Record: 17-3 overall, 13-3 UFC
    Last five: 5-0
    Next fight: Holloway will fight Jose Aldo to unify the featherweight title at UFC 212 on June 3.
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: 5-to-4

    Since losing to Conor McGregor via unanimous decision in August 2013, Holloway has been on an absolute tear, running off 10 straight wins in the topsy-turvy 145-pound division.

    He's been so good—as evidenced by his TKO stoppage of Anthony Pettis to capture the interim championship at UFC 206 in December 2016—that defeat by McGregor now feels like ancient history.

    So too do the days when Aldo was regarded this weight class' unbeatable champion. When this pairing meets up in Rio de Janeiro in June, it will be Holloway who is ascendant while Aldo will be nearing his 31st birthday and out of action for nearly a year since his unanimous-decision win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200.

    Will it be enough for Holloway to upgrade from interim to undisputed champion? It's possible. It's possible.

No. 4 Cris "Cyborg" Justino

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    Cris "Cyborg" Justino (Previously No. 1)

    Division: Women's featherweight
    Age: 31
    Record: 17-1-1 overall, 2-0 UFC
    Last five: 5-0
    Next fight: N/A
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: 3-to-2

    Cyborg held down the top spot on this list when it was first published back in March, but what a difference nearly a month can make.

    Back then, Justino was riding high after being retroactively granted a therapeutic use exemption and cleared of any wrongdoing stemming from a failed drug test in December 2016. It seemed her long-frosty relationship with the UFC might finally be thawing and that a bout against newly crowned champ Germaine de Randamie would soon be in the offing.

    Now? Yeah, maybe not so much.

    Fast-forward to late April and the Cyborg-UFC marriage seems as contentious as ever. She's been blasting the organization on social media while simultaneously still trying to talk her way into meeting de Randamie in the Octagon. 

    If that pairing ever actually happens, it'll be lights out for the current champ and the crowning of a new one. Unfortunately, with the recent revelation that Justino's UFC contract is set to expire in October 2017, we now know we're dealing with a limited window of possibility.

    It'd be a shame if the most fearsome female MMA fighter on the planet never gets the chance to wear UFC gold, but with every passing second the de Randamie fight goes unbooked, it starts to seem more and more likely.

No. 5 Georges St-Pierre

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    Cris "Cyborg" Justino (Previously No. 1)

    Division: Women's featherweight
    Age: 31
    Record: 17-1-1 overall, 2-0 UFC
    Last five: 5-0
    Next fight: N/A
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: 3-to-2

    Cyborg held down the top spot on this list when it was first published back in March, but what a difference nearly a month can make.

    Back then, Justino was riding high after being retroactively granted a therapeutic use exemption and cleared of any wrongdoing stemming from a failed drug test in December 2016. It seemed her long-frosty relationship with the UFC might finally be thawing and that a bout against newly crowned champ Germaine de Randamie would soon be in the offing.

    Now? Yeah, maybe not so much.

    Fast-forward to late April and the Cyborg-UFC marriage seems as contentious as ever. She's been blasting the organization on social media while simultaneously still trying to talk her way into meeting de Randamie in the Octagon. 

    If that pairing ever actually happens, it'll be lights out for the current champ and the crowning of a new one. Unfortunately, with the recent revelation that Justino's UFC contract is set to expire in October 2017, we now know we're dealing with a limited window of possibility.

    It'd be a shame if the most fearsome female MMA fighter on the planet never gets the chance to wear UFC gold, but with every passing second the de Randamie fight goes unbooked, it starts to seem more and more likely.

No. 6 T.J. Dillashaw

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    Cris "Cyborg" Justino (Previously No. 1)

    Division: Women's featherweight
    Age: 31
    Record: 17-1-1 overall, 2-0 UFC
    Last five: 5-0
    Next fight: N/A
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: 3-to-2

    Cyborg held down the top spot on this list when it was first published back in March, but what a difference nearly a month can make.

    Back then, Justino was riding high after being retroactively granted a therapeutic use exemption and cleared of any wrongdoing stemming from a failed drug test in December 2016. It seemed her long-frosty relationship with the UFC might finally be thawing and that a bout against newly crowned champ Germaine de Randamie would soon be in the offing.

    Now? Yeah, maybe not so much.

    Fast-forward to late April and the Cyborg-UFC marriage seems as contentious as ever. She's been blasting the organization on social media while simultaneously still trying to talk her way into meeting de Randamie in the Octagon. 

    If that pairing ever actually happens, it'll be lights out for the current champ and the crowning of a new one. Unfortunately, with the recent revelation that Justino's UFC contract is set to expire in October 2017, we now know we're dealing with a limited window of possibility.

    It'd be a shame if the most fearsome female MMA fighter on the planet never gets the chance to wear UFC gold, but with every passing second the de Randamie fight goes unbooked, it starts to seem more and more likely.

No. 7 Yoel Romero

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    Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Cris "Cyborg" Justino (Previously No. 1)

    Division: Women's featherweight
    Age: 31
    Record: 17-1-1 overall, 2-0 UFC
    Last five: 5-0
    Next fight: N/A
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: 3-to-2

    Cyborg held down the top spot on this list when it was first published back in March, but what a difference nearly a month can make.

    Back then, Justino was riding high after being retroactively granted a therapeutic use exemption and cleared of any wrongdoing stemming from a failed drug test in December 2016. It seemed her long-frosty relationship with the UFC might finally be thawing and that a bout against newly crowned champ Germaine de Randamie would soon be in the offing.

    Now? Yeah, maybe not so much.

    Fast-forward to late April and the Cyborg-UFC marriage seems as contentious as ever. She's been blasting the organization on social media while simultaneously still trying to talk her way into meeting de Randamie in the Octagon. 

    If that pairing ever actually happens, it'll be lights out for the current champ and the crowning of a new one. Unfortunately, with the recent revelation that Justino's UFC contract is set to expire in October 2017, we now know we're dealing with a limited window of possibility.

    It'd be a shame if the most fearsome female MMA fighter on the planet never gets the chance to wear UFC gold, but with every passing second the de Randamie fight goes unbooked, it starts to seem more and more likely.

No. 8 Valentina Shevchenko

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    Valentina Shevchenko (Previously No. 9)

    Division: Women's bantamweight
    Age: 29
    Record: 14-2 overall, 3-1 UFC
    Last five: 4-1
    Next fight: Shevchenko is expected to fight Amanda Nunes for the women's bantamweight title at an event TBA in 2017.
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: 5-to-1

    Shevchenko has come seemingly from nowhere to establish herself as the No. 1 contender in the women's 135-pound weight class. The decorated kickboxer only has four fights inside the Octagon, but the two most recent have been impressive victories over former champion Holly Holm and top prospect Julianna Pena.

    After losing to current champ Nunes at UFC 196 in March 2016, however, the question remains whether Shevchenko can have closed the gap enough to make the outcome of their second fight different. We won't know until it actually goes down.

No. 9 Jessica Andrade

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    Jessica Andrade (Previously: unlisted)

    Division:
    Age:
    Record:
    Last five:
    Next fight:
    Odds of winning the title in 2017:

No. 10 Demian Maia

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    Demian Maia (Previously No. 10)

    Division: Welterweight
    Age: 39
    Record: 24-6 overall, 18-6 UFC
    Last five: 5-0
    Next fight: Maia will fight Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 on May 13.
    Odds of winning the title in 2017: 7-to-1

    The venerable jiu jitsu professor of the 170-pound weight class, Maia has been on a roll since seemingly rededicating himself to being a pure grappler in the spring of 2014.

    In that way, there's a delightful, throwback quality to his recent success. Everybody knows what Maia's going to do, and yet they still can't stop him. Submission victories over Matt Brown and Carlos Condit in his most recent bouts have been ultra impressive but so far not good enough to land him a shot at champion Tyron Woodley.

    One of two things will happen for Maia this year: Either he'll slip up and lose a fight—this upcoming meeting with Masvidal is a dangerous one—or he'll get a title shot. If it's the latter, it wouldn't be a big shocker to see Maia become champion.