No surprises: Pound-for-pound, Jon 'Bones' Jones alone at the top

Friday May 2nd, 2014

Jon "Bones" Jones' impressive handling of Glover Teixeira keeps him at the top of the MMA heap.
Patrick Smith/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

That José Aldo sure is something else. Seventeen straight wins and eight UFC/WEC featherweight title defenses. Don't stand in front of him, bro, or at the end of the night you will be limping on bruised, swollen legs.

How about that Cain Velasquez, huh? A heavyweight champion is always going to be labeled the baddest man on the planet -- comes with the territory -- but this hombre is badder than anyone has a right to be. Keep up with him by following the heap of beaten-down, bloody carcasses left in his wake.

Let's not forget about Chris Weidman and his finishing touch. Twice he stepped in the cage with the legend acknowledged as the sport's greatest of all time. Twice the night ended early for Anderson Silva. The middleweight champion has never lost a fight, and that isn't lost on us. He's softspoken and humble, yet he has a way of drawing our attention to him.

So do Demetrious Johnson, Renan Barão, Ronda Rousey and so on, all of the UFC's champions, really, plus a good many non-belt-wearing types. There are a lot of elite fighters in the game, every one of them breathtaking for his or her uniquely frightening gifts. It's not all about Jon Jones.

And yet it is. Maybe it grows tiresome to hear and read, again and again, with new platitudes tossed in each time, how great Jones is. But his star flickers in the night sky more brightly than the rest. If we suppress our singular glorification of "Bones," in the interest of treating him like one of the guys, we're ignoring the obvious. Pound for pound, Jon Jones is the best fighter in this big world. That's what this month's fighter rankings say. Again.

Jones has been the best in the game for at least a couple of years now, and the scary thing is, he continues to state his case in novel ways. Last Saturday, the 26-year-old handed Glover Teixeira his first loss in 21 bouts over nine years, and he did so with an attack as creative as it was unyielding, utilizing devices that weren't in his tool box the last time he was in the cage. That previous fight, last September against Alexander Gustafsson, was the only true challenge to Jones's supremacy, and even on that night "Bones" showed us something new about the resilient makeup of a transcendent champion.

Now he's set up for a second go with Gustafsson. The fight might event be in Sweden, and what a shot of drama that would bring. But wherever the rematch takes place, it promises to be the fighting event of 2014. So don't battle it. Just sit back and bask in your good fortune to be alive during the Jon Jones era.


1. Cain Velasquez (13-1)

2. Junior dos Santos (16-3)

3. Fabricio Werdum (18-5-1)

4. Stipe Miocic (11-1)

5. Travis Browne (16-2-1)

6. Josh Barnett (33-7)

7. Mark Hunt (9-8-1)

8. Antonio Silva (18-5, 1 NC)

9. Alistair Overeem (37-13, 1 NC)

10. Roy Nelson (20-9)

On the strength of his victory a few weeks ago in The Battle of the Bigs -- "Big Country" vs. "Big Nog" -- Nelson is back in the Top 10 with a chance to move up. According to a report on the Fox show UFC Tonight, the promotion is looking to match Roy with Mark Hunt. (Reinforce the octagon for impact!) A more imminent opportunity for upward mobility: Miocic takes his best shot at Dos Santos on the May 31 fight card in São Paolo, Brazil.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones (20-1)

2. Alexander Gustafsson (16-2)

3. Rashad Evans (21-3-1)

4. Daniel Cormier (14-0)

5. Glover Teixeira (22-3)

6. Anthony Johnson (17-4)

7. Chael Sonnen (28-14-1)

8. Phil Davis (12-2, 1 NC)

9. Dan Henderson (30-11)

10. Mauricio Rua (22-9)

In his first UFC fight following a two-year exile, Johnson rumbled past Davis and into the mix. But the man most deeply ingrained in the mix is Cormier, who appears poised to take on the survivor of the as-yet-unscheduled Jones-Gustafsson II. To get there, Daniel must pass his first 205-pound test on May 24. Sure, Henderson is 43, but still a Top 10 challenge whose flair for sudden finishes lives on.


1. Chris Weidman (11-0)

2. Anderson Silva (33-6)

3. Vitor Belfort (23-10)

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

5. Lyoto Machida (21-4)

6. Luke Rockhold (12-2)

7. Tim Kennedy (18-4)

8. Michael Bisping (24-6)

9. Yushin Okami (30-8)

10. Yoel Romero (8-1)

Rockhold and Kennedy moved up on the strength of stout performances, with Luke perhaps winning more impressively but Tim scoring a more impressive win. But the 185-pounder who really opened some eyes last month was Romero, who finally showed the mad mat skills that made the Cuban a 2000 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling. He's 37, old for a title run, but keep your eye on this guy.


1. Johny Hendricks (16-2)

2. Rory MacDonald (15-2)

3. Robbie Lawler (22-10, 1 NC)

4. Tyron Woodley (13-2)

5. Carlos Condit (29-8)

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

7. Jake Shields (29-7-1, 1 NC)

8. Demian Maia (18-5)

9. Ben Askren (12-0)

10. Matt Brown (18-11)

No change from last month, other than UFC fighter Jake Shields being replaced by World Series of Fighting signee Jake Shields. Brown, largely overlooked despite a six-fight win streak, gets the spotlight next weekend in his hometown, Cincinnati, taking on Erick Silva in the main event of a Fight Night card.


1. Anthony Pettis (17-2)

2. Benson Henderson (20-3)

3. Gilbert Melendez (22-3)

4. Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)

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

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

7. Nate Diaz (17-9)

8. Eddie Alvarez (25-3)

9. Michael Chandler (12-1)

10. Jim Miller (24-4, 1 NC)

Chandler took the Bellator title from Alvarez in I. Alvarez grabbed it back from Chandler in II. Both were ridiculously fierce fights. That's a lot for Alvarez-Chandler III to live up to, but the promotion is going all in on the May 17 bout, making it the marquee matchup in the promotion's first pay-per-view. Who knows how many fight fans will plunk down the cash to watch a non-UFC evening? But this is a fight worth seeing.


1. José Aldo (24-1)

2. Chad Mendes (16-1)

3. Frankie Edgar (16-4-1)

4. Ricardo Lamas (13-3)

5. Cub Swanson (20-5)

6. Chan Sung Jung (13-4)

7. Dustin Poirier (16-3)

8. Pat Curran (20-5)

9. Patricio Freire (21-2)

10. Daniel Straus (22-5)

Step right up. The UFC is hurting for marquee matchups, with champions on the mend and other big draws in some other state of limbo. Yet no one is lined up to challenge Aldo. Mendes would seem to be the logical choice, but UFC matchmaking doesn't always follow a straight-and-narrow path.


1. Renan Barão (32-1, 1 NC)

2. Urijah Faber (30-7)

3. Michael McDonald (16-3)

4. Raphael Assunção (22-4)

5. Eddie Wineland (21-9-1)

6. Bibianio Fernandes (16-3)

7. T.J. Dillishaw (9-2)

8. Eduardo Dantas (15-3)

9. Takeya Mizugaki (18-7-2)

10. Iuri Alcantara (29-5)

May 24 will be Barão's debut solo flight, and it will be interesting to see how smoothly he lands. When the Brazilian takes on Dillishaw that night, it will be his second PPV main event. But this time training partner José Aldo won't have his back, fighting in the co-main. This night it'll all be on Renan. It's crazy to question the marketing appeal of the owner of a 33-fight unbeaten streak, but that's the reality faced by smaller fighters -- even champions of astounding ability.


1. Demetrious Johnson (19-2-1)

2. Joseph Benavidez (20-4)

3. Ian McCall (12-4-1)

4. John Dodson (15-6)

5. John Moraga (13-2)

6. Ali Bagautinov (13-2)

7. John Lineker (23-7)

8. Jussier da Silva (15-3)

9. Brad Pickett (24-8)

10. Tim Elliott (10-5-1)

Nice job by Elliott. He was finished in the first round last weekend, yet the performance was good enough to push him back into the Top 10. That's because he was performing against Benavidez, who stands head and shoulders above all other 125-pound contenders. (Metaphorically, at least. Joe is only 5-foot-4.) Elliott went after him right from the start, took him down and got the better of the grappling until Benavidez locked in a guillotine choke to keep his No. 2 spot safe.


1. Ronda Rousey (9-0)

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

3. Cat Zingano (8-0)

4. Sara McMann (7-1)

5. Miesha Tate (14-5)

6. Alexis Davis (16-5)

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

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

9. Liz Carmouche (9-5)

10. Jessica Aguilar (15-4)

Tate stays put after beating Carmouche two weeks ago, but she's not getting another shot at Rousey any time soon. Carmouche stays put, too, because she put on a winning performance -- not in the judges' eyes, maybe, but in the view of many observers. The whole UFC women's division seems to be in a holding pattern, it seems, waiting for "Cyborg" Justino to cut weight to 135 pounds and make the biggest bout in the history of women's fighting.

Pound for pound

1. Jon Jones

2. José Aldo

3. Cain Velasquez

4. Chris Weidman

5. Demetrious Johnson

6. Renan Barão

7. Ronda Rousey

8. Anthony Pettis

9. Anderson Silva

10. Johny Hendricks

Jones was already No. 1, so his dismantling of Teixeira doesn't result in any visible movement. But clearly he's separating himself from the rest. If his next two fights end up being dominant victories over Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier, as they may well be, we're going to have to start looking for a challenge of a different kind for this guy. Should be fun to watch "Bones" try to steer us in that direction.

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

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