A new leader sits atop the throne of MMA rankings after Silva's loss

Jon Jones returns to the top of the rankings as he prepares to fight Alexander Gustafsson next month.
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It's sunk in by now. Anderson Silva's mind-blowing TKO loss to Chris Weidman happened a little over four weeks ago. A rematch already has been set. Two other UFC champions have since defended their belts without incident. Four more titlists have taken their shiny brass-and-leather straps on a World Tour that visited 11 cities, from New York to London, Stockholm to Rio de Janeiro. The mixed martial arts world might not be fully over the shock of seeing Silva lose for the first time in seven years, but we've moved on.

And so, too, will the SI.com fighter rankings.

Silva has sat atop both our middleweight and pound-for-pound lists for exactly a year, ever since he crushed his nemesis, Chael Sonnen, in their cantankerous rematch. He was already our No. 1 at 185 pounds, but unlike a lot of other rankings out there that had "The Spider" on the top of the P4P list forever, we'd downgraded him to second fiddle following the first Sonnen fight back in 2010. A long string of soaring title defenses as part of an endless win streak is nothing less than impressive, but when you get smothered by a challenger for four rounds and most of the fifth, even a spectacular, last-ditch submission victory doesn't guarantee you top billing in our book. Not until you destroy that same opponent next time around.

But now it's time for a new king of the hill. One could argue for Georges St-Pierre, who's five years into his second reign as UFC welterweight champion and has defended the belt eight times. One could make a case for José Aldo, whose TKO victory over Chan Sung Jung on Saturday night was his seventh UFC/WEC featherweight title defense and 16th straight win overall. Instead, we're just going to knock Silva off the ladder's top rung and ask those right below to climb up one step. Which means ...

Jon Jones is now No. 1.

Again. The UFC light heavyweight champ first took residence at the top of the heap back in May 2012. At the time I wrote, "It would take something extraordinary for 'The Spider' to be unseated from the top spot in the mixed martial arts rankings. Meet something extraordinary. Otherwise known as Jon Jones." What was so extraordinary? "Bones" had just defeated Rashad Evans, the fourth former world champion he'd beaten in a little over a year. He'd toyed with them all.

Jones is still dominating. He's added wins over Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen, and next month he takes on Alexander Gustafsson. The challenges are dwindling in the 205-pound division, and new horizons are calling. During the New York stop on the UFC's World Tour, Jones fulfilled a fan request by standing and facing off with heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Playfully ... for now.

On to the 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. Travis Browne (14-1-1)

9. Stipe Miocic (10-1)

10. Roy Nelson (19-8)

The octagon becomes a bounce house Aug. 17 in Boston -- a bounce-back house. Browne has already begun the process, rebounding from the first loss of his career (to "Bigfoot" Silva in the fall of 2012) by taking out Gabriel Gonzaga in just over a minute in April. Now he takes on another reclamation project, Overeem, who in February fell to "Bigfoot" in a most embarrassing way. He disrespected the big man's game, and after getting the better of the fighting for two rounds, left himself open to having the fight beaten out of him in a brutal KO in the third. Later in the month we get a fight a decade in the making: Barnett vs. Frank Mir. Here's hoping they still can do mat magic.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones (18-1)

2. Alexander Gustafsson (15-1)

3. Rashad Evans (18-3)

4. Glover Teixeira (20-2)

5. Phil Davis (12-1, 1 NC)

6. Lyoto Machida (19-4)

7. Dan Henderson (29-10)

8. Chael Sonnen (27-13-1)

9. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5)

10. Mauricio Rua (21-7)

Have we learned yet that Machida fights are hard to score? He owns victories over Rua and Henderson that a lot of observers believe he did not deserve. His split-decision loss to "Rampage" Jackson was a win on many a scorecard. Then, last weekend, came his stunning defeat to Davis -- stunning not because "Mr. Wonderful" won but because of how and where he did it. The wrestling stud had just two takedowns (on 10 tries) and dodged anything too damaging from the karate man, and got the judges' nod in Brazil. If Lyoto doesn't take you out with his stalk-but-wait-for-counterpunch-openings game, anything can happen.


1. Chris Weidman (10-0)

2. Anderson Silva (33-5)

3. Vitor Belfort (23-10)

4. Michael Bisping (24-5)

5. Yushin Okami (29-7)

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

7. Mark Munoz (12-3)

8. Luke Rockhold (10-2)

9. Constantinos Philippou (12-2)

10. Tim Boetsch (16-5)

How's the view from the top of the mountain, Mr. Weidman? Is there steam emanating from the bald head of a No. 2 who probably wishes the Dec. 28 rematch were today? Have you noticed the odd Mohawk-ish thing on the head of No. 3? Have you noticed the guy at all, in fact? UFC president Dana White doesn't seem to want to see or hear from Vitor. So maybe you don't have to worry about him. That return engagement with Silva is enough to think about.


1. Georges St-Pierre (24-2)

2. Johny Hendricks (15-1)

3. Carlos Condit (28-7)

4. Rory MacDonald (15-1)

5. Demian Maia (18-4)

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

7. Martin Kampmann (20-6)

8. Ben Askren (12-0)

9. Tarec Saffiedine (14-3)

10. Robbie Lawler (21-9)

Where have you gone, Jake Ellenberger? This is not elegiac or symbolic like Paul Simon's yearning for Joe D, just an acknowledgement that Jake E., last month's No. 8, has disappeared. Just as he did against MacDonald a little over a week ago. It's impossible to stand Ellenberger's uninspiring -- and losing -- performance side by side with Lawler's focused, lethal head-kick KO of Bobby Voelker that same night and deny "Ruthless Robbie" the spot he deserves. Askren moves up on the strength of another unrelenting performance. Next proving ground: Indianapolis on Aug. 28, when Condit and Kampmann clash.


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. Michael Chandler (12-0)

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

9. Nate Diaz (16-9)

10. Jim Miller (22-5)

Maybe it's just a coincidence. Or maybe Henderson has been in too many close fights, and the UFC prefers a dominant champion. Whatever the reason, the fight promotion has stacked the deck against the belt holder by matching him against Pettis on Aug. 31 in Milwaukee -- the challenger's hometown. Then again, maybe it's fair that this time Anthony should have the crowd behind him after having to go to Glendale, Ariz., where Henderson trains, for their WEC title fight back in 2010. Which Pettis won, in large part because of the ninja fence-ricocheting "Showtime Kick." This rematch is long overdue. But enough on the UFC title fight. How about that Bellator champ? Chandler's 44-second KO last week would have elevated him higher if this weight class weren't so stacked. But the man is a rock star.


1. José Aldo (23-1)

2. Frankie Edgar (14-3-1)

3. Pat Curran (18-4)

4. Chad Mendes (11-1)

5. Ricardo Lamas (13-2)

6. Cub Swanson (19-5)

7. Chan Sung Jung (13-4)

8. Erik Koch (13-2)

9. Dustin Poirier (13-3)

10. Clay Guida (30-13)

So Aldo breaks his foot with his first kick on Saturday night, nullifying his most potent weapon, and he goes to a Plan B we'd never before seen from him and still dominates. That's a special athlete. What's next? What challenge might keep him interested in remaining at 145 pounds for a while? Lamas is at the head of the line ... still. Swanson's waiting, too. And the Aug. 31 card in Milwaukee will further sort out the queue, as Mendes fights Guida and we finally see the Koch vs. Poirier bout that seems to have been wafting in the atmosphere forever. Good to finally see this clash of young studs before they're middle-aged studs.


1. Dominick Cruz (19-1)

2. Renan Barão (30-1, 1 NC)

3. Michael McDonald (15-2)

4. Urijah Faber (28-6)

5. Eddie Wineland (20-8)

6. Scott Jorgenson (14-7)

7. Raphael Assunção (20-4)

8. Brad Pickett (22-7)

9. Mike Easton (13-2)

10. Erik Perez (13-4)

As Cruz and Barão remain in the sick bay, the rest of the 135-pounders continue to play musical chairs. The Aug. 17 UFC card in Boston will feature the top two healthy bantamweights, although Faber and McDonald are not fighting each other, unfortunately. Urijah, once a featherweight champ and now seemingly a perennial top challenger at 135, faces Yuri Alcantara, who got back on track in May after having his 13-fight winning streak halted. The Brazilian has 12 wins by KO, 12 by submission, so "The California Kid" is advised to be careful. So is McDonald, as he's facing Pickett, who's won four Fight of the Night bonuses and one for KO of the Night. The guy earns so many extra checks he gives UFC poobah Dana White writer's cramp.


1. Demetrious Johnson (18-2-1)

2. Joseph Benavidez (16-3)

3. Ian McCall (12-4-1)

4. John Dodson (14-6)

5. John Moraga (13-1)

6. Jussier da Silva (15-2)

8. John Lineker (22-6)

9. Louis Gaudinot (6-2)

10. Chris Cariaso (14-5)

How many exciting fights must the 125-pounders put on before we stop asking the question: Why do people not like to watch the flyweights? Let's put a stop to it right here. Johnson's masterful dominance of Moraga was entertaining from start to armbar finish. McCall and Lineker each put on a show in Brazil over the weekend. And I'm looking forward to seeing Benavidez and da Silva tangle in a month. So there.


1. Ronda Rousey (7-0)

2. Cristiane Justino (11-1, 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 (21-6)

10. Alexis Davis (13-5)

Amanda Nunes put on an eye-opening performance against Sheila Gaff over the weekend in Rio, yet she can't crack the Top 10. Part of the reason is that this list serves as a de facto pound-for-pound ranking, including a 145-pounder (Justino) as well as a 115-pounder (Aguilar). Another reason is that the UFC's 135-pound division, which some have said lacks depth, is being flooded with talent with each fight card. On Aug. 28 in Indianapolis we get Kaufman vs. McMann, which will move someone closer to a title shot and also determine the correct spelling of the name "Sarah/Sara."

Pound for pound

1. Jon Jones

2. Georges St-Pierre

3. José Aldo

4. Cain Velasquez

5. Chris Weidman

6. Anderson Silva

7. Benson Henderson

8. Ronda Rousey

9. Demetrious Johnson

10. Dominick Cruz

Why so severe a fall for Silva? Some have dropped him just to No. 2; others have stuck him below the Big Three of Jones, GSP and Aldo. But as I see it, he should be ranked below the man who played his game yet still knocked him out. So Anderson's placement is dependent on Weidman's. So, since Chris was not in the Top 10 last month, where does a victory over perhaps the greatest of all time catapult him? Not into the Top 3, and not above Cain, either. So it's No. 5 for the new middleweight champion and No. 6 for the icon it feels odd to call challenger. I can already sense the e-mails coming ...

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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