Tuesday November 4th, 2014

José Aldo certainly didn’t hurt his standing in the fanciful pecking order known as pound-for-pound fighter rankings with his victory over Chad Mendes a little over a week ago. By taking a unanimous decision in his ninth defense of the UFC/WEC featherweight championship belt he’s owned for a full five years, the 28-year-old Brazilian buzzsaw firmed his grasp on the No. 2 position in the SI.com rankings, behind only light heavyweight dynamo Jon Jones.

Consider also the effect that UFC 179 main event in Rio de Janeiro had on Mendes. If the MMA hierarchy were dependent on standings, which keep order in many other sports, the “L” would have sent the Californian tumbling down the table. But rankings are not so coldly calculated.

Mendes fought the fight of his life that night. That might seem an odd way to describe a rare losing effort in a career that has seen 16 victories, including eight finishes, six of them coming in the first round. None of those performances came against José Aldo, though. Mendes gave Aldo the toughest fight he’s ever experienced. He knocked him down, bloodied him up, and, like Aldo, firmed up his own position … as the second-best 145-pounder in the world. Considering that the world population also includes fellows named Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson, Ricardo Lamas, and, yes, Conor McGregor, that’s a feather in Chad’s cap.

•​ WAGENHEIM: Jose Aldo finally fights with grit in defeat of Chad Mendes

Mendes is no Benson Henderson. He’s no Junior dos Santos. Like those guys, he’s now lost twice to his weight division’s reigning champion. But Henderson was submitted in the first round of his rematch with Anthony Pettis. Dos Santos, after beating Cain Velasquez via flash knockout, was brutalized in two subsequent meetings. Mendes, on the other hand, had a better showing in his second go with Aldo. It’s not inconceivable -- and a pretty appealing possibility -- that they’ll tussle again.

For now, Mendes’s reward is a heaping pile of nothing. So is Aldo’s, for that matter. The champ already was No. 1 among featherweights in the SI.com tally, and he’s not about to leapfrog “Bones” Jones on the pound-for-pound list. And Mendes similarly has no upward mobility at 145, with only Aldo ahead of him. But he’s not slipping an inch, either, and it would take a superlative performance by either Edgar or Swanson on Nov. 22 to dislodge Mendes from No. 2.

On to the rankings …


1. Fabricio Werdum (18-5-1)

2. Stipe Miocic (12-1)

3. Travis Browne (16-2-1)

4. Mark Hunt (10-8-1)

5. Josh Barnett (33-7)

6. Andrei Arlovski (23-10, 1 NC)

7. Antonio Silva (18-6, 1 NC)

8. Roy Nelson (20-10)

9. Gabriel Gonzaga (16-8)

10. Ben Rothwell (34-9)

What’s wrong with this picture? Werdum at No. 1? Where’s Cain Velasquez? Where’s Junior dos Santos? These bizarre rankings are a result of what one might call The Dominator Rule: When Dominick Cruz’s injury layoff dragged on from months into years, we put in place a stipulation that we would not include in these rankings any fighter who has not competed in a year. Velasquez and Dos Santos last fought Oct. 19, 2013 (against each other), so they’re out. On a technicality. But we know Cain is the best heavyweight on the planet, and Junior is right behind. We’re not going to pretend that the Nov. 15 interim title bout between Werdum and Hunt will crown a real champ. We’re just going to sit here waiting for the day when we can restore Velasquez and Dos Santos to their rightful place at the top of the mountain.

•​ WAGENHEIM: Mark Hunt's UCF revival continues with knockout of Roy Nelson

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones (20-1)

2. Alexander Gustafsson (16-2)

3. Daniel Cormier (15-0)

4. Rashad Evans (21-3-1)

5. Anthony Johnson (18-4)

6. Phil Davis (13-2, 1 NC)

7. Glover Teixeira (22-4)

8. Ryan Bader (18-4)

9. Emanuel Newton (25-7-1)

10. Dan Henderson (30-12)

Unless you’re really, really into riding time, Davis’s dominant performance against Teixeira wasn’t a thrill a minute. But it was a whole lot more successful a night for “Mr. Wonderful” than was his clumsy showing against Johnson in April. So maybe Davis, a 2008 NCAA Division 1 wrestling champion, learned a lesson: Play to your strengths, even at the cost of entertainment. You might get no favors from the matchmakers, but if you keep winning you’ll be hard to ignore.


1. Chris Weidman (12-0)

2. Anderson Silva (33-6)

3. Vitor Belfort (23-10)

4. Ronaldo Souza (20-3, 1 NC)

5. Lyoto Machida (21-5)

6. Luke Rockhold (12-2)

7. Tim Kennedy (18-5)

8. Michael Bisping (24-6)

9. Yushin Okami (30-8)

10. Yoel Romero (9-1)

Rockhold and Bisping sure have talked a lot in advance of Friday’s showdown in Australia. They could have both taped their mouths shut, and this still would be a fight to look forward to. The winner probably will need another victory to earn a title shot, but this is a big steppingstone. Rockhold, in particular, would like to use this night to erase any traces of memory from last year’s knockout loss to Belfort. Bisping has more to atone for, but he never seems to disappear from contention … something he’d like to perpetuate. When the talking stops and the fighting starts, this should be a good one.


1. Johny Hendricks (16-2)

2. Rory MacDonald (18-2)

3. Robbie Lawler (24-10, 1 NC)

4. Tyron Woodley (14-3)

5. Carlos Condit (29-8)

6. Hector Lombard (34-4-1, 1 NC)

7. Matt Brown (19-12)

8. Ben Askren (14-0)

9. Jake Shields (30-7-1, 1 NC)

10. Demian Maia (19-6)

We’re about a month away from Chapter 2 of the Hendricks vs. Lawler Story, which began with a bang back in March. The rematch might even have enough fireworks to put a smile on MacDonald’s stony face.


1. Anthony Pettis (17-2)

2. Gilbert Melendez (22-3)

3. Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)

4. Rafael dos Anjos (22-7)

5. Donald Cerrone (25-6, 1 NC)

6. Benson Henderson (21-4)

7. Bobby Green (23-5)

8. Josh Thomson (20-6, 1 NC)

9. Nate Diaz (17-9)

10. Eddie Alvarez (25-4)

What, no Cerrone fight this month? Guess we’ll have to settle for watching Green do his thing against Edson Barboza on Nov. 22. And then we wait for the Dec. 6 title bout between Pettis and Melendez(And why is "Showtime" still in these rankings, despite having not fought since August 2013? It's because he has a fight scheduled.)​


1. José Aldo (25-1)

2. Chad Mendes (16-2)

3. Frankie Edgar (17-4-1)

4. Ricardo Lamas (14-3)

5. Cub Swanson (21-5)

6. Conor McGregor (16-2)

7. Chan Sung Jung (13-4)

8. Patricio Freire (22-2)

9. Dennis Bermudez (14-3)

10. Dustin Poirier (16-4)

Mendes holds his position, despite all lobbying by the Clancy brothers to elevate McGregor. Lamas and Bermudez will let their fists do the talking on Nov. 15, and Edgar and Swanson will try to shut each other down a week later. This might be the most volatile -- and, therefore, riveting -- weight class in the sport.


1. Dominick Cruz (20-1)

2. T.J. Dillashaw (11-2)

3. Renan Barão (32-2, 1 NC)

4. Urijah Faber (30-7)

5. Raphael Assunção (23-4)

6. Michael McDonald (16-3)

7. Iuri Alcantara (31-5, 1 NC)

8. Eduardo Dantas (16-3)

9. Bibianio Fernandes (16-3)

10. Takeya Mizugaki (20-7-2)

Nope, we haven’t reconsidered. Cruz, who returned in September from a three-year absence during which his title belt was stripped, remains ranked ahead of Dillashaw, the man who wears the UFC strap. Unfair? Forward-thinking? The fighters will settle matters themselves when they meet … whenever the UFC gets around to making it happen.


1. Demetrious Johnson (20-2-1)

2. Joseph Benavidez (20-4)

3. John Dodson (16-6)

4. Ian McCall (13-4-1)

5. Jussier da Silva (17-3)

6. John Moraga (14-3)

7. Ali Bagautinov (13-3)

8. John Lineker (24-7)

9. Brad Pickett (24-9)

10. Tim Elliott (10-5-1)

Will someone please step up and give “Mighty Mouse” a challenge? A real challenge? Dodson will give it another shot next year after he’s healed from ACL surgery. For now, McCall and Lineker will try to one-up each other this Saturday in Brazil, and two weeks later Benavidez and Pickett -- in separate bouts -- will show what they can do. (Benavidez, though No. 2 here, has the longest road back to a title shot, having twice lost to the champ.)


1. Ronda Rousey (10-0)

2. Cristiane Justino (12-1, 1 NC)

3. Cat Zingano (8-0)

4. Sara McMann (8-1)

5. Miesha Tate (14-5)

6. Alexis Davis (16-6)

7. Jessica Eye (10-2, 1 NC)

8. Sarah Kaufman (16-2, 1 NC)

9. Liz Carmouche (9-5)

10. Bethe Correia (9-0)

So, Rousey and Zingano have a date. Finally. Initially, they were scheduled to meet at UFC 182 in early January, but last week the UFC pushed back their bout to Feb. 28, when it will be the co-main event (under the Chris Weidman-Vitor Belfort headliner) of UFC 184. Before being sidelined by an injury and family tragedy, Zingano earned her shot the old-fashioned way -- by winning in the cage. Good for the UFC for making this bout rather than a Gina Carano money grab or a pseudo-grudge match with Correia.

Pound for pound

1. Jon Jones

2. José Aldo

3. Chris Weidman

4. Ronda Rousey

5. Demetrious Johnson

6. Anthony Pettis

7. Anderson Silva

8. Johny Hendricks

9. Dominick Cruz

10. Daniel Cormier

Aldo is still No. 2, but he inched a little closer to Jones with his UFC 179 performance. Weidman moved up to No. 3 because the inactive Velasquez is ineligible, temporarily at least. That also opened a spot, which could have gone to bantam belt holder T.J. Dillashaw. But we’re going with Cormier.

Questions? Comments? To reach Jeff Wagenheim or contribute to the SI.com MMA mailbag, click on the E-mail link at the top of the page.

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