June 04, 2013
Jon Jones may finally make the move up to heavyweight once his injured toe heals.
Gregory Payan/AP

Anderson Silva is not the baddest man on the planet. Neither is Jon Jones. Or Georges St-Pierre. Or José Aldo. Or even Ronda Rousey. That honor would go to Cain Velasquez.

It's one of the perks of being UFC heavyweight champion.

(That's right, Tyson Fury. Try beating a Top 10 boxer before you start calling out the alpha male of combat sports.)

But even though Velasquez dominated Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva a little over a week ago, his merciless blitz didn't dislodge anyone in the crowd above him in the SI.com pound-for-pound rankings. Last month Cain was No. 5, behind Silva, Jones, St-Pierre and Aldo. This month? Five again. Velasquez has probably reached his high mark unless someone above him sinks.

Pound rankings are a smaller man's game. Those who try to postulate how a matchup between same-sized versions of Cain and, say, Aldo would go invariably add positive attributes to the 145-pounder and subtract from the big dude. And even those of us who sort out our rankings by assessing how each fighter performs within his or her weight division tend to downgrade the heavyweights, if only subconsciously.

Why? Well, for one thing, putting a hulking man mountain at the top of these fanciful rankings would take the fun away. There's something empowering about viewing a grown man the size of a middle schooler as the toughest of the tough.

So for now and for the foreseeable future, Velasquez, having knocked out 10 of the 12 men he's beaten over his fighting career, will have to settle for the distinction of being No. 1 in the pound-'em-out-for-pound-'em-out rankings.

On to the other rankings ...


1. Cain Velasquez (12-1)

2. Junior dos Santos (16-2)

3. Daniel Cormier (11-0)

4. Fabricio Werdum (16-5-1)

5. Josh Barnett (32-6)

6. Antonio Silva (18-5)

7. Alistair Overeem (36-12-1)

8. Roy Nelson (19-7)

9. Travis Browne (14-1-1)

10. Frank Mir (16-7)

A true Top 10 in this division would have Velasquez at No. 1, Dos Santos at 2, then around five or six empty spaces before we get around to the rest. Cain surely wouldn't go for that, considering the high opinion he has of Cormier, his American Kickboxing Academy teammate. But if UFC 160 showed anything, it's that the champ and ex-champ are at a different level from everyone else. Werdum gets a chance this Saturday night in Fortaleza, Brazil, to show he's worthy of being mentioned in the same breath, but even if he smashes Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, he's going to have to wait a while to step in the cage with the champ. The UFC already announced that Velasquez-Dos Santos III is a go.

WAGENHEIM: Mir-Barnett is a fight people should be excited about

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones (18-1)

2. Lyoto Machida (19-3)

3. Alexander Gustafsson (15-1)

4. Dan Henderson (29-9)

5. Rashad Evans (17-3)

6. Glover Teixeira (20-2)

7. Chael Sonnen (27-13-1)

8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5)

9. Phil Davis (11-1)

10. Mauricio Rua (21-7)

If you're a 205-pound fighting man with your eye on the prize, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Jones has made it known that he's planning to fill out that long, lanky frame of his and compete at heavyweight, perhaps as soon as by the end of the year. First, the UFC champ needs his injured toe to heal. Then he needs to put his belt on the line one more time in order to break the record he now shares with Tito Ortiz for most light heavy title defenses. With Machida slated to face Davis in August and Henderson and Evans going at it later this month, Jones's most likely final foe at 205 would be Gustafsson, who at 6-feet-5 inches would also provide "Bones" with a preview of what it might feels like to be in with bigger bodies.


1. Anderson Silva (32-4)

2. Chris Weidman (9-0)

3. Vitor Belfort (23-10)

4. Michael Bisping (24-5)

5. Yushin Okami (29-7)

6. Ronaldo Souza (18-3, 1 NC)

7. Luke Rockhold (10-2)

8. Mark Munoz (12-3)

9. Constantinos Philippou (12-2)

10. Tim Boetsch (16-5)

What are we to make of Belfort's explosive finish of former Strikeforce champ Rockhold last month? That's two straight headkick KO's of top contenders by the 37-year-old Brazilian. Are we supposed to ignore the obvious? Vitor's use of testosterone replacement therapy is sanctioned by athletic commissions (although the Nevada commission is on record as casting doubt on his future licensing there), so he's not breaking any rules. But the rules they are a-changing. And if the UFC puts Belfort and his fountain of youth in a title fight, which could happen if he beats one more Top 10 guy while Silva vs. Weidman is playing out, the promotion risks crowning a champion who's on the fringe of legitimacy. In Belfort's defense, though, the guy does put in the work and is exciting to watch. And that's nothing to dismiss.

WAGENHEIM: Belfort looks like an ageless wonder


1. Georges St-Pierre (24-2)

2. Johny Hendricks (15-1)

3. Carlos Condit (28-7)

4. Rory MacDonald (14-1)

5. Demian Maia (18-4)

6. Nick Diaz (26-9, 1 NC)

7. Jon Fitch (24-5)

8. Martin Kampmann (20-6)

9. Jake Ellenberger (29-6)

10. Ben Askren (11-0)

Last month in this space I quoted from the previous month's 170-pound rankings writeup, noting that the Top 10 had not changed a bit. That's still the case. St-Pierre and Hendricks are said to be on a collision course, unless GSP opts for a superfight, which seems unlikely. Johny is raring to go -- anytime, anywhere. So let's just do it.


1. Benson Henderson (19-2)

2. Gilbert Melendez (21-3)

3. Anthony Pettis (16-2)

4. T.J. Grant (21-5)

5. Josh Thomson (20-5, 1 NC)

6. Pat Healy (29-16, 1 NC)

7. Gray Maynard (12-2-1, 1 NC)

8. Nate Diaz (16-9)

9. Jim Miller (22-5)

10. Michael Chandler (11-0)

Thanks, TJ. By smashing Maynard in barely two minutes at UFC 160, you made me look bad. I'd been ranking Gray at No. 2 in this weight division for a long, long time, going against the tide of support for guys like Melendez and Pettis. And why not? "The Bully" entered Memorial Day weekend with but one loss on his resume, and twice had come so close to unseating Frankie Edgar on the 155-pound throne. But Grant simply demolished him, earning his fifth straight win since dropping down from welterweight and securing a shot at Henderson. Sometimes the mighty fall. Sometimes the mighty rise.


1. José Aldo (21-1)

2. Frankie Edgar (14-3-1)

3. Pat Curran (18-4)

4. Chad Mendes (11-1)

5. Ricardo Lamas (13-2)

6. Erik Koch (13-2)

7. Chan Sung Jung (13-3)

8. Cub Swanson (19-5)

9. Clay Guida (30-13)

10. Dustin Poirier (13-3)

Everyone stayed put from last month, but there could be a lot of rearranging this summer. We're still two months from seeing Aldo go mano a mano with the most explosive striker he's faced, lightweight contender Anthony Pettis. And the two guys in the promotion who are ranked right below also face tests, as Edgar takes on Charles Oliveira next month and Mendes clashes with Guida at the end of August. Meanwhile, Curran remains the top non-UFC fighter in all of the SI.com rankings.


1. Dominick Cruz (19-1)

2. Renan Barão (30-1, 1 NC)

3. Michael McDonald (15-2)

4. Urijah Faber (27-6)

5. Eddie Wineland (20-8)

6. Scott Jorgenson (14-6)

7. Brad Pickett (22-7)

8. Raphael Assuncao (19-4)

9. Mike Easton (13-2)

10. Erik Perez (13-4)

So now what does the UFC do? Name an interim interim champ? Barão was the guy entrusted with the keys and asked to drive carefully while Cruz continues to recover from two knee surgeries that have kept him out of the octagon for 20 months. And what does Renan do? He injures a foot a couple of weeks ago, forcing cancellation of his June 15 defense of his faux belt against Eddie Wineland. I guess McDonald and Faber will just have to play rock-paper-scissors ... and be wary of paper cuts.


1. Demetrious Johnson (16-2-1)

2. Joseph Benavidez (16-3)

3. Ian McCall (11-3-1)

4. John Dodson (14-6)

5. John Moraga (13-1)

6. Jussier da Silva (15-2)

7. Darrell Montague (12-2)

8. John Lineker (21-6)

9. Louis Gaudinot (6-2)

10. Chris Cariaso (14-5)

"I think he's boring." That's Moraga talking about Johnson, whom he'll challenge for the UFC belt in July. So it's just trash talk, right? I mean, "Mighty Mouse" is the fastest thing in the promotion this side of Chael. Boring? Nonsense. Well, maybe not to those fans who show up at the arena thinking slugfest more than track meet. And Moraga thinks he knows why we hear so much booing during Johnson's fights. "He runs around too much," said the 11-1 former All-America wrestler. "He doesn't fight. He doesn't put on exciting fights." We'll see about that.


1. Ronda Rousey (7-0)

2. Cristiane Santos (10-1, 1 NC)

3. Cat Zingano (8-0)

4. Sarah Kaufman (15-2)

5. Liz Carmouche (8-3)

6. Sara McMann (7-0)

7. Miesha Tate (13-4)

8. Jessica Aguilar (15-4)

9. Marloes Coenen (21-5)

10. Alexis Davis (13-5)

The creative team at Fox couldn't have scripted a more compelling drama. When Zingano blew out her knee and had to withdraw from her coveted coaching assignment opposite Rousey on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, Ronda showed up for the first day of taping and came face to face with her nemesis, Tate. Will their bitter rivalry make for must-see TV? Yeah, probably. But in the end we get another title bout in which the challenger is coming off a loss. That'll make it four in 2013 for the UFC. Boo.

WAGENHEIM: Rousey-Tate is more bad blood than fresh blood

Pound for pound

1. Anderson Silva

2. Jon Jones

3. Georges St-Pierre

4. José Aldo

5. Cain Velasquez

6. Benson Henderson

7. Dominick Cruz

8. Ronda Rousey

9. Demetrious Johnson

10. Renan Barâo

Yes, but the rest of these guys (and gal) would have to gang up on Cain if the man with the big-boy belt got riled up.

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.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)