By Jeff Wagenheim
August 01, 2014

Were we about to get a changing of the guard at the peak of the mountain?

Jon Jones has been No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings for a year now, having risen in the wake of Anderson Silva being separated from his middleweight and best-in-the-sport titles last summer. For many months, it’s been “Bones” and José Aldo occupying the top two spots. In that order, forever that order.

But Aldo appeared poised to perhaps ascend, with Jones having an opportunity to fall. The first step was to take place this weekend. Was.

“Bones” is about to face his greatest challenge. Sure, Alexander Gustafsson gave the UFC light heavyweight champion the fight of his life last September, but no one saw that coming. Daniel Cormier is a different story. From the moment he was announced as the new opponent for Jones’s Sept. 27 title defense after Gustafsson had to pull out with a torn miniscus, this fight was seen as breathtaking business. No previous Jones challenger -- not Gustafsson, not anyone in the parade of ex-champs “Bones” has vanquished -- was widely viewed as a serious threat in the leadup to the championship bout.

Jones might very well lose his belt next month. He might be sent careening off the mountain.

That would elevate Aldo, no? José was to have an opportunity to start his climb on Saturday night, but he had to pull out of his featherweight defense against Chad Mendes after injuring a shoulder and his cervical spine in training. The champ’s departure was enough to force cancellation of the entire UFC 176 card.

Now Aldo will have to wait until Oct. 29 to stake his claim. The good news for him is that he’ll no longer have to rematch the Californian in Los Angeles, as the bout has been rescheduled for UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro. That’s the same city where the Brazilian -- now the only UFC champion from his MMA-loving country -- knocked out Mendes in their 2012 title bout and famously raced out into the crowd to celebrate.

If Jones falls next month and Aldo is victorious a month later, Brazilian fans will have even more to celebrate.

On to the rankings …

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)

We’ll be seeing a lot of Velasquez and Werdum -- at least if we watch The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, which begins later this month on Fox Deportes and on UFC Fight Pass. If you’re not into  televisión de la realidad, tune in (via PPV) on Nov. 15 for their title fight.

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 (18-4)
7. Phil Davis (12-2, 1 NC)
8. Ryan Bader (17-4)
9. Emanuel Newton (23-7-1)
10. Dan Henderson (30-12)

Just as we’re beginning to get all agitated in anticipation of net month’s Jones vs. Cormier showdown, there’s a rumble rising from the distance. Make that a “Rumble.” It took Johnson just 44 seconds to separate Antonio Rogerio Nogueira from his senses last weekend and impose himself as a dangerous obstacle in the 205-pound mix. Not bad for a former 170-pounder.

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 (18-4)
8. Michael Bisping (24-6)
9. Yushin Okami (30-8)
10. Yoel Romero (8-1)

Such a soap opera, this division. Belfort talks his way into a license from the star-struck Nevada Athletic commission and gets a title fight from the UFC (Dec. 6 vs. Weidman). Rockhold and Bisping trade barbs, even with no punches scheduled to be exchanged.  And now … the return of Silva! Against Nick Diaz! Can’t wait for Jan. 31. 

1. Johny Hendricks (16-2)
2. Rory MacDonald (17-2)
3. Robbie Lawler (24-10, 1 NC)
4. Tyron Woodley (13-3)
5. Carlos Condit (29-8)
6. Hector Lombard (34-4-1, 1 NC)
7. Matt Brown (19-12)
8. Ben Askren (13-0)
9. Jake Shields (29-7-1, 1 NC)
10. Demian Maia (19-6)

​​Lawler earned his second title shot in 10 months with last weekend’s win over Brown. But he’s still a spot behind MacDonald on this list, as Rory destroyed Woodley in June (and now gets Tarec Saffiedine come October in Nova Scotia). As for Brown, the narrow loss did nothing to downgrade him in the rankings or in the view of the fanbase.

Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier title fight a win-win situation for MMA fans

1. Anthony Pettis (17-2)
2. Benson Henderson (21-3)
3. Gilbert Melendez (22-3)
4. Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)
5. Donald Cerrone (24-6, 1 NC)
6. Eddie Alvarez (25-3)
7. Bobby Green (23-5)
8. Josh Thomson (20-6, 1 NC)
9. Nate Diaz (17-9)
10. Will Brooks (14-1)

A big night for Cerrone (KO of Jim Miller) in Atlantic City a couple of weeks ago ended with him declaring that he’d fight anyone, including Nurmagomedov, whom the UFC has said no one wants to face. Well, the match was made … but then unmade, when Khabib blew out a knee in training. Now there’s a report that the UFC is trying to match “Cowboy” with Alvarez, if the promotion can get Eddie out of his Bellator contract. That’d be an explosive welcome.

1. José Aldo (24-1)
2. Chad Mendes (16-1)
3. Frankie Edgar (17-4-1)
4. Ricardo Lamas (14-3)
5. Cub Swanson (21-5)
6. Chan Sung Jung (13-4)
7. Dustin Poirier (16-3)
8. Pat Curran (20-5)
9. Patricio Freire (21-2)
10. Dennis Bermudez (14-3)

Conor McGregor was all set to make his debut on this list on the strength of his KO of Diego Brandao a couple of weeks ago. But then Bermudez came along and stole his thunder with a submission win over Clay Guida. So “Dennis the Menace” gets the spot, having beaten a higher-level opponent to cap a seven-fight UFC win streak. If McGregor wants a spot in the Top 10, there’ll be one up for grabs when he faces Poirier Sept. 27.

1. T.J. Dillashaw (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. Eduardo Dantas (16-3)
7. Takeya Mizugaki (20-7-2)
8. Bibianio Fernandes (16-3)
9. Iuri Alcantara (30-5)
10. Johnny Eduardo (27-9)

It’s sneaking up on us, this rematch between Dillashaw and Barão for 135-pound supremacy. Some would have preferred that the UFC had waited on the rematch, allowing the Brazilian ex-champ to build up some steam after being thoroughly thrashed last time. But c’mon. Can’t wait 'til Aug. 30.

1. Demetrious Johnson (20-2-1)
2. Joseph Benavidez (20-4)
3. John Dodson (16-6)
4. Ian McCall (13-4-1)
5. John Moraga (14-3)
6. Ali Bagautinov (13-3)
7. John Lineker (24-7)
8. Jussier da Silva (15-3)
9. Brad Pickett (24-9)
10. Tim Elliott (10-5-1)

McCall beat Pickett a couple of weeks ago. A few days earlier, Lineker had an impressive KO (and made weight!). So which of these guys gets the shot at Johnson? Neither. It’ll be unranked Chris Cariaso (No. 8 in the UFC’s media-voted tally) who challenges “Mighty Mouse” in the UFC 177 co-main event Aug. 30. Hmm.

1. Ronda Rousey (10-0)
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 (16-6)
7. Jessica Eye (10-2, 1 NC)
8. Sarah Kaufman (16-2, 1 NC)
9. Liz Carmouche (9-5)
10. Jessica Aguilar (15-4)

So “Cyborg” Justino is scheduled to make her bantamweight debut in an Invicta fight, which has been advertised on Just one small step toward the only women’s fight that has to happen.

Pound for pound
1. Jon Jones
2. José Aldo
3. Cain Velasquez
4. Chris Weidman
5. Ronda Rousey
6. Demetrious Johnson
7. Anthony Pettis
8. Anderson Silva
9. Johny Hendricks
10. Daniel Cormier

Even though he’s the greatest threat No. 1 Jones has seen, Cormier barely cracks the Top 10 because he’s still building his resume, especially at light heavyweight. But if the two-time US Olympian prevails next month, look out above.

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