By Jeff Wagenheim
January 09, 2015

Jon Jones remains No. 1 in the pound-for-pound mixed martial arts fighter rankings. Jon Jones is in a drug treatment facility after testing positive for a cocaine metabolite last month.

How are these two statements compatible?

Easy. Jones underwent a urine test administered by the Nevada Athletic Commission on Dec. 4, one day short of a month before last Saturday’s defense of his UFC light heavyweight championship against Daniel Cormier in Las Vegas. Results indicate that the champ failed the test, but did he really?

Unlike anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, cocaine is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of substances banned while out of competition -- a designation that encompasses any testing done more than 12 hours before a fight. So Jones was not supposed to be tested for cocaine. The NAC has acknowledged as much, calling the testing “an administrative error.” That characterization could be used to describe the sanctioning body itself; this is only the latest entry in its long track record of ineptitude.

Bottom line for our rankings: At this point -- with fight-night test results not yet available -- there is no evidence that Jones was under the influence of a PED while defeating Cormier, so that impressive victory only solidifies the champ’s legacy as a fighter. If you take moral issue with his drug use -- his entry to rehab could signal a serious problem or might just be a PR move for an athlete recently signed to a lucrative Reebok sponsorship -- that’s your choice. But after last Saturday’s performance at UFC 182, no serious observer of the sport can question the pre-eminence of Jon Jones as a fighter.

On to the rankings … 

1. Junior dos Santos (17-3)
2. Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1)
3. Stipe Miocic (12-2)
4. Travis Browne (17-2-1)
5. Josh Barnett (33-7)
6. Mark Hunt (10-9-1)
7. Andrei Arlovski (23-10, 1 NC)
8. Antonio Silva (18-6, 1 NC) 
9. Roy Nelson (20-10)
10. Ben 
Rothwell (34-9)

Cain Velasquez is the baddest man on the planet. Cain. Baddest. We have to keep reminding ourselves of that because, having not fought in over a year, the UFC’s real big-boy belt holder is ineligible for this list. Dos Santos was barred last month, too, because of inactivity, but after edging Miocic he’s back in, warming the No. 1 seat while his two-time conqueror heals his knee. Stipe was mighty impressive, by the way, and we had to hold ourselves back from ranking him above the interim champ.

Light Heavyweight
1. Jon Jones (21-1)
2. Alexander Gustafsson (16-2)
3. Daniel Cormier (15-1)
4. Rashad Evans (19-3-1)
5. Anthony Johnson (18-4)
6. Phil Davis (13-2, 1 NC)
7. Glover Teixeira (22-4)
8. Ryan Bader (18-4)
9. Emanuel Newton (25-7-1)
10. Dan Henderson (30-12)

Cormier was No. 3 last month. He lost on Saturday, so this month he is … No. 3. “DC” stepped into the cage with Jones, the greatest fighter in the world, and gave the UFC champ all he could handle for three rounds. Unfortunately for the challenger, it was a five-round fight. Nonetheless, Daniel is not losing an inch of ground in this pecking order.

1. Chris Weidman (12-0)
2. Anderson Silva (33-6)
3. Vitor Belfort (24-10)
4. Luke Rockhold (13-2)
5. Lyoto Machida (22-5)
6. Ronaldo Souza (21-3, 1 NC)
7. Tim Kennedy (18-5)
8. Yoel Romero (9-1)
9. Gegard Mousasi (35-5-2)
10. Michael Bisping (24-7)

How is it possible for Silva to be maintaining the No. 2 spot while mired in a two-fight losing streak? The multilayered rationale is that both losses came against No. 1 and that no one else on this list could get the better of “The Spider.” We’ll find out later this month whether Silva still is truly alpha male 1A among 185-pounders when he faces Nick Diaz, who’s not the retiring type.

1. Robbie Lawler (25-10, 1 NC)
2. Johny Hendricks (16-3)
3. Rory MacDonald (18-2)
4. Tyron Woodley (14-3)
5. Hector Lombard (35-4-1, 1 NC)
6. Matt Brown (19-12)
7. Ben Askren (14-0)
8. Carlos Condit (29-8)
9. Kelvin Gastelum (10-0)
10. Jake Shields (30-7-1, 1 NC)

How does it feel to be on top of the world, Mr. Lawler? No, we’re not talking about that UFC strap around your waist; we’re talking about now being’s No. 1 at 170 pounds. You’re welcome. You earned it. Last month’s tight five-round decision over Hendricks was a gem of a fight, as was the first meeting last March. Next up: an as-yet-unscheduled rubber match, so named because the mere mention of it has fans bouncing off their walls in anticipation.

1. Anthony Pettis (18-2)
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)
3. Rafael dos Anjos (23-7)
4. Donald Cerrone (26-6, 1 NC)
5. Benson Henderson (21-4)
6. Gilbert Melendez (22-4)
7. Josh Thomson (20-6, 1 NC)
8. Eddie Alvarez (25-4)
9. Will Brooks (15-1)
10. Miles Jury (15-1)

With Nurmagomedov rehabbing a knee, Do Anjos has been given the next shot at Pettis, which will take place March 14 in Dallas. By then, Cerrone might have another half-dozen fights under his belt. “Cowboy” handed Jury his first loss on Saturday night, and on Monday, after Alvarez pulled out of his Jan. 18 meeting with Henderson, Donald stepped up. Henderson beat Cerrone twice when they were in the WEC, but “Cowboy” is riding high these days. And riding often.

1. José Aldo (25-1)
2. Frankie Edgar (18-4-1)
3. Chad Mendes (16-2)
4. Ricardo Lamas (15-3)
5. Conor McGregor (16-2)
6. Cub Swanson (21-6)
7. Patricio Freire (22-2)
8. Dennis Bermudez (14-4)
9. Dustin Poirier (16-4)
10. Nik Lentz (25-6-2, 1 NC)

It’s all lined up for McGregor, the loquacious and dynamic Irishman. He faces unranked Dennis Siver on Jan. 18 in Boston, and if he wins (when he wins?) he will get the title shot he’s been chirping about ever since his first wordy walk inside the octagon back in 2013. Edgar, meanwhile, gets to patiently wait in the line he -- and many others (raising hand) -- were delusional enough to think he was at the head of.

1. Dominick Cruz (20-1)
2. T.J. Dillashaw (11-2)
3. Renan Barão (33-2, 1 NC)
4. Urijah Faber (31-7)
5. Raphael Assunção (23-4)
6. Michael McDonald (16-3)
7. Bibianio Fernandes (16-3)
8. Takeya Mizugaki (20-7-2)
9. Joe Warren (12-3)
10. Iuri Alcantara (31-5, 1 NC)

Technically, Dominick Cruz is eligible for this list, on which he was No. 1 for the past three months on the strength of his late-September stoppage of Mizugaki in Dominick’s first fight in three years. We considered yanking 'The Dominator' anyway, in essence so as not to tease the fans, who won’t be seeing Dominick anytime soon. He blew out his knee last month, while the UFC was still trying to schedule a title fight with Dillashaw. Now the champ will face … who knows? Training partner and mentor Faber isn’t interested. Rematch with Barão, maybe? We’re buying.

1. Demetrious Johnson (21-2-1)
2. Joseph Benavidez (21-4)
3. John Dodson (16-6)
4. Ian McCall (13-4-1)
5. Jussier da Silva (17-3)
6. Ali Bagautinov (13-3)
7. John Lineker (24-7)
8. John Moraga (16-3)
9. Zach Makovsky (18-5)
10. Dustin Ortiz (14-4)

McCall and Lineker go at it Jan. 31, and with Dodson on the mend and Benavidez a two-time-loser-to-the-champ nowhere man, the winner could earn a shot at “Mighty Mouse.”

Women's bantamweight
1. Ronda Rousey (10-0)
2. Cat Zingano (8-0)
3. Sara McMann (8-1)
4. Miesha Tate (14-5)
5. Alexis Davis (16-6)
6. Jessica Eye (11-2, 1 NC)
7. Sarah Kaufman (16-2, 1 NC)
8. Liz Carmouche (9-5)
9. Bethe Correia (9-0)
10. Lauren Murphy (8-1)

With the UFC having added a women’s strawweight division, we’re going with two Top 10s now, in the two weight classes utilized by the biggest promotion in the sport. Which means goodbye to Cris “Cyborg” Justino, who teased us with a plan to cut 10 pounds from her usual 145-pound featherweight limit to make 135 and challenge Rousey. But apparently that’s off, at least for now. Oh well, see you later, then.

Women's strawweight
1. Jessica Aguilar (19-4)
2. Carla Esparza (10-2)
3. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (8-0)
4. Rose Namajunas (2-2)
5. Joanne Calderwood (9-0)
6. Claudia Gadelha (12-1)
7. Jessica Penne (12-2)
8. Tecia Torres (5-0)
9. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (6-0)
10. Felice Herrig (10-5)

Esparza is the one who made history last month, choking out Namajunas in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter to become the UFC’s first 115-pound champion. Several women on this list toiled on the show, and a couple of others have fought in the UFC under other circumstances. But the reigning alpha female among strawweights competes not in the sport’s biggest promotion but in the World Series of Fighting. For now.

Pound for pound
1. Jon Jones
2. José Aldo
3. Chris Weidman
4. Ronda Rousey
5. Demetrious Johnson
6. Anthony Pettis
7. Anderson Silva
8. T.J. Dillashaw
9. Robbie Lawler
10. Johny Hendricks

You know when Dana White stands there at a UFC press conference and declares that one of the main eventers he’s hyping at that moment is No. 1 pound-for-pound? He’s not going to do that anymore, unless he’s hyping a Jones fight. “Bones” has made Dana a man of truth.

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