Cain Velasquez, Chris Weidman headline May's top fighters

Wednesday June 4th, 2014

Undefeated Chris Weidman (11-0) is the No. 1 middleweight, but Anderson Silva is not far behind.
David Becker/AP

We're not yet halfway through 2014, and three times already the UFC has crowned a new champion. It's always a pomp-and-circumstance moment. But only the most recent instance was a shocker.

Renan Barão was installed as bantamweight titlist in January without a punch being thrown. (How's that for abracadabra?) Dominick Cruz had been out injured for 27 months by that point, and Barão already was wearing the interim belt the UFC had put up for grabs. But when "The Dominator" was injured yet again and had to pull out of his champion-vs.-"champion" showdown with the Brazilian, Dana White & Co. stripped Cruz and made Renan their official 135-pound king.

A month later Johny Hendricks also managed to get his hands on a shiny brass-and-leather strap by unseating no one. Of course, he did have to fight off Robbie Lawler for the right to fasten that vacated welterweight belt — previously the property of sabbatical-minded Georges St-Pierre — around his waist. So fists did fly, but they were sent back and forth by two guys who'd walked into the cage on equal footing. Yes, Hendricks had delivered a beating to GSP a few months prior, but he hadn't gone home with the belt that night. So he was no more of a champion than was "Ruthless Robbie." Until Johny proved otherwise.

T.J. Dillashaw's crowning achievement a little over a week ago was way different. He thoroughly thrashed the reigning Barão, and he did so as a second-choice opponent thrust into the spotlight only after the expected challenger, Raphael Assunção, declined the title shot because of a rib injury. To this point, Dillashaw had fought professionally only 11 times, had won all but once but owned no shining signature victories, and was a heavy underdog. Yet he did what no one but he and his closest compadres were claiming he could do. He handed the Brazilian his first loss in 34 fights going all the way back to 2005.

And with that shock-the-world exploit, Dillashaw shook up both the bantamweight and pound-for-pound hierarchies in the rankings.

So let's get to it ...


1. Cain Velasquez (13-1)

2. Junior dos Santos (16-3)

3. Fabricio Werdum (18-5-1)

4. Stipe Miocic (12-1)

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)

A 35-second knockout would seem to be quite a statement, but Miocic's quick finish of Fabio Maldonado on Saturday said nothing but "Whew!" As in deep relief. Stipe had a lot to lose in facing an unranked light heavyweight, yet little to gain. His standing among the big boys would have been affected, for better or worse, if dos Santos hadn't pulled out of their scheduled fight with a hand injury. His reward for beating little Fabio? Miocic gets to sit in the same spot he was in last month.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones (20-1)

2. Alexander Gustafsson (16-2)

3. Daniel Cormier (15-0)

4. Rashad Evans (21-3-1)

5. Glover Teixeira (22-3)

6. Anthony Johnson (17-4)

7. Chael Sonnen (28-14-1)

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

9. Mauricio Rua (22-9)

10. Dan Henderson (30-12)

Something is happening here and we don't know what it is, do we, Mr. Jones? Will it be a rematch with Gustafsson, as the UFC has planned and we've all figured you'd want, if only to erase any doubt that arose in that close-call first meeting? Or will you be doing what Dana White claims you've said you prefer: heeding Cormier's advice and fighting him before he gets even better? Decisions, decisions. If you're bucking the UFC's plan, "Bones," you probably don't care to hear our perspective, but here it is, anyway: Cormier is 35 and can't wait forever, but Gustafsson was there first.


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)

After obliterating Mark Muñoz the other day in Berlin to run his record to 35-4-2, Gegard Mousasi probably deserves a spot in the Top 10. Problem is, no one is budging. And this list doesn't even include Chael Sonnen, who in a month will fight Belfort, either at light heavyweight (Sonnen says) or middleweight (Dana White says), either for a 185-pound title shot (Sonnen says) or not (White says). With so many contenders, we should be seeing some well-matched couples parading in front of us for a good, long time.


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. Ben Askren (13-0)

10. Matt Brown (19-11)

8. Demian Maia (19-6)

MacDonald and Woodley get after it on June 14, perhaps for a title shot. Or maybe that honor will go to the winner of next month's Lawler vs. Brown slugfest. Who knows where the arrow will be pointing when the carnival wheel stops. Elsewhere on this laudable list, Brown and Askren, the latter coming off another dominant performance in his One FC debut last Friday, both leapfrogged Maia, who had a his hand raised on Saturday in São Paulo but with not quite the same panache.


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. Jim Miller (24-4, 1 NC)

10. Will Brooks (14-1)

Henderson lingers in no-man's land, the result of having lost twice to Pettis. And his fight this Saturday, against the unranked Rustam Khabilov, isn't going to elevate him. But "Bendo" had better elevate his game, because Khabilov is 17-1 with six wins in a row, three in the UFC. The Russian has never fought anyone on Henderson's level, though, so this weekend will be a gauge to see what he has for us. New to the gang: Brooks, who replaces Michael Chandler a few weeks after narrowly beating him.


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)

Swanson's road to a rematch with Aldo — or a fight with Mendes, if he can grab away the title from the only reigning Brazilian in August — sends him in the direction of Jeremy Stephens. They tussle in San Antonio on June 28, the same night that Lamas, coming off his unsuccessful challenge of Aldo, faces one of José's training partners. Hacran Dias is an interesting case. He hasn't fought in a year, and when he steps back in he'll be seeking to rebound from a loss that ended a nine-fight win streak.


1. T.J. Dillishaw (10-2)

2. Renan Barão (32-2, 1 NC)

3. Urijah Faber (30-7)

4. Michael McDonald (16-3)

5. Raphael Assunção (22-4)

6. Bibianio Fernandes (16-3)

7. Eduardo Dantas (16-3)

8. Takeya Mizugaki (20-7-2)

9. Iuri Alcantara (30-5)

10. Joe Warren (11-3)

Dillashaw was No. 7 last month, which is all that you need to know about what we thought his chances were against Barão. We were way off, of course, but we were by no means alone. (You picked Dillashaw to win that fight? Yeah, sure.) But now T.J. is the champ, and that puts him on the top of the heap. It'll be interesting to see where he turns next. Rematch with Barão? Rematch with Assunção, who beat him via split decision last year? That aside, let the jockeying begin among contenders and pretenders, all ramping up their ambitions now that the belt is in possession of someone not on a 33-fight win streak.


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)

The UFC likes to have at least one title fight each month, and June's pits "Mighty Mouse" against Bagautinov. Johnson keeps getting better and better, so it'll be interesting to see how Ali tries to attack him a week from Saturday. An interested observer will be the winner of this weekend's bout between Dodson and Moraga. Both have lost to the champ, but Saturday's survivor would appear to be in line for a re-do.


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)

We're a month away from Rousey vs. Davis, and all's quiet. The women's fight scene is just not the same when "Rowdy Ronda" isn't being baited by Tate. But an even more charged-up challenge, "Cyborg" Justino, is lurking. If Rousey wins next month, it would appear that Zingano should have the right call next. But after that? The UFC can't continue to ignore a Rousey vs. Cyborg clash, can it?

Pound for pound

1. Jon Jones

2. José Aldo

3. Cain Velasquez

4. Chris Weidman

5. Demetrious Johnson

6. Ronda Rousey

7. Anthony Pettis

8. Anderson Silva

9. Johny Hendricks

10. Daniel Cormier

Why no Dillashaw? T.J. did pull off an astounding upset over a dominant champion, which did thrust him to the top of the bantamweight list. But he sort of came out of nowhere, so let's see some more from the guy. For now, Barão is gone from his No. 6 spot, everyone below moves up, and Cormier jumps in. That's what you get for throwing Dan Henderson around like he's a flyweight.

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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