Where does Jon Jones rank after destroying Vitor Belfort at UFC 152? What does Benson Henderson’s second close decision over Frankie Edgar mean? Find out below in our updated pound-for-pound rankings:
10. Carlos Condit (28-5, Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA, interim UFC welterweight champion)
Condit elected to wait for a shot at Georges St-Pierre to unify the welterweight titles after claiming the interim belt against Nick Diaz this past February. The wait will finally pay off as the fight is official for UFC 154 this November. Questions surround St-Pierre’s return from a major knee injury, but Condit must be ready for the fight of his life. Condit possesses excellent killer instinct, genuine power and slick submissions and he’ll need to put them all together in a career-defining performance to dethrone the true welterweight king.
9. Dominick Cruz (19-1, Alliance Training Center, UFC bantamweight champion)
The UFC bantamweight champion has had to observe the action from a distance, recently undergoing surgery for a torn ACL. The Lloyd Irvin pupil has been on a tear, but he’ll need to focus on recovering to top form if he still wants to be the best. With interim champion Renan Barao waiting in the wings, the 27-year-old Cruz will need to brace himself for the toughest test of his career.
8. Renan Barao (29-1, Nova Uniao, interim UFC bantamweight champion)
The 25-year-old Barao claimed the interim UFC bantamweight title at UFC 149, systematically dissecting former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber over five one-sided rounds. The training partner of Jose Aldo at Nova Uniao in Brazil has all the tools to become a force in the division and he’ll look to unify the belts against Dominick Cruz when he returns from knee surgery. Unbeaten in his past 30 fights, Barao had a much better performance against Faber than the champion Cruz and he should give the American a hard time with his movement and accurate striking.
7. Frankie Edgar (14-3-1, Ricardo Almeida Jiu Jitsu, UFC featherweight)
An extremely disappointed Edgar has finally agreed to drop to 145 pounds after losing a highly contentious split decision to Ben Henderson at UFC 150 in August. After dropping two close fights to the champion on scorecards, Edgar has elected to take another path, satisfying repeated requests from UFC president Dana White to drop down a division. His first fight at featherweight was slated to be a dream pairing to many hardcore fans as he was matched up with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in Brazil. However, Aldo got injured and the fight was scrapped. The UFC still seems interested in putting the superfight together, so we should see Edgar vie to become a two-division champion early next year.
6. Ben Henderson (17-2, MMA Lab, UFC lightweight champion)
In an attempt to erase any doubt after a close win over Frankie Edgar in February, a rematch was set for UFC 150 this past August. Unfortunately, the outcome was an even closer fight with Henderson once again earning the razor-thin nod. All controversy aside, Henderson is a supremely talented champion. He’ll need to overcome a major test in his first title defense as he meets Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5 this December. Diaz, who is riding a three-fight winning streak at 155 pounds with stellar performances against top opponents, should come well-equipped for battle. Henderson will need to pull out all his tricks to keep the gold around his waist.
5. Junior dos Santos (15-1, Team Nogueira, UFC heavyweight champion)
At UFC 155 this December, the UFC heavyweight champion dos Santos will return to defend his crown in a rematch against Cain Velasquez, the man he beat for the belt. Rapidly establishing himself as one of the most fierce heavyweight competitors of all time, dos Santos has beaten the best of the best, including Velasquez, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin, Roy Nelson, Fabricio Werdum, among others. If he erases any doubt in his rematch with Velasquez, the Brazilian boxing specialist could fight former Dream, K-1 and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem in 2013.
4. Jose Aldo (21-1, Nova Uniao, UFC featherweight champion)
The UFC featherweight champion was expected to fight Erik Koch at UFC 153, but his opponent got injured. A tantalizing clash with Frankie Edgar was announced, but the Brazilian wrecking machine was forced to withdraw after suffering an injury himself. Aldo has destroyed every challenger thus far, but with the addition of Edgar and a slew of emerging contenders in the division, the champion will have his hands full. Aldo last saw action in January, crushing American wrestling standout Chad Mendes by first-round knockout in Brazil.
3. Georges St. Pierre (22-2, Tristar Gym, UFC welterweight champion)
It’s been far too long since we’ve last seen the undisputed UFC welterweight champion St-Pierre compete. After sitting out on the sidelines nursing a knee injury for over a year, the French-Canadian phenom finally returns against interim titleholder Carlos Condit at UFC 154 this November. Ring rust is a major question mark and we don’t know how the knee surgeries could have impacted the champion’s explosiveness and power. Nonetheless, St-Pierre will seek his 10th consecutive victory. If he’s triumphant, a superfight with pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva seems increasingly likely.
2. Jon Jones (17-1, Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA, UFC light heavyweight champion)
The UFC light heavyweight champion has been torn up within mixed martial arts circles as of late after refusing to fight Chael Sonnen at UFC 151. Unable to put an intriguing main event together, the UFC was forced to scrap a show for the first time in history. With Dan Henderson injured and Lyoto Machida requesting additional time to prepare for a rematch with the young prodigy, UFC pioneer Vitor Belfort stepped up to 205 pounds to challenge Jones for his title at UFC 152 in Toronto. Predictably, Jones dominated Belfort for four rounds before putting him away with a kimura. Jones continues to improve, while the list of potential challengers to his throne is shrinking.
1. Anderson Silva (32-4, Team Nogueira, UFC middleweight champion)
When UFC 153 appeared to be on the brink of collapse with featherweight champion Jose Aldo pulling out of a prospective superfight against Frankie Edgar, the world’s best fighter rose to the occasion. Silva has now agreed to a non-title light heavyweight bout against Stephan Bonnar, which will headline UFC 153 on Oct. 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Silva was not expected to fight again until 2013 after destroying Chael Sonnen at UFC 148, but he should have little trouble putting on a showcase against the much slower fighter and a sloppier striker in Bonnar. Silva seems uninterested in fighting middleweight contenders like Chris Weidman and Michael Bisping as his sights are set on a megafight with longtime welterweight ruler Georges St-Pierre.