Ronda Rousey's dominating performance against Bethe Correia keeps here atop's pound-for-pound MMA rankings.

By Jeff Wagenheim
August 10, 2015

It was a can’t-lose situation, which in a way made it a no-win.

With the UFC’s mismatchmakers having stuck her in the octagon with an 18-1 underdog on Aug. 1, Ronda Rousey didn’t have much opportunity to impress. And in her case, astoundingly impressive performances were what several months ago had vaulted her to the No. 1 spot in the pound-for-pound MMA fighter rankings.

Competing in a bantamweight division nowhere near as deep and competitive as the weight classes of the sport’s other top performers, such as featherweight champion José Aldo, Rousey had earned her lofty position by being not run-of-the-mill dominant but thoroughly domineering to an unprecedented degree. Prior to her bout a little over a week ago in the main event of UFC 190, here was the “Rowdy Ronda” resume: 11 professional fights, all victories, all knockouts or submissions, all but one in the first round, seven in the very first minute. She was coming off 16-second and 14-second wins. Unprecedented dominance, indeed.

But Rousey’s Aug. 1 defense was against a woefully overmatched foe. Sure, Bethe Correia was unbeaten, too, but none of her nine wins had come against Top 10 competition. She was in way over her head, having been handed a shot at the champ merely on the strength of a trash-talk pedigree. But the Brazilian was no more than a convenient foil for the UFC’s plan to showcase its champ in front of a hungry-for-star-power Rio de Janeiro audience. In this storyline, Correia played the role of a toothless villain.

That did not bode well for Rousey’s precarious position at the top of our rankings. Even a victory, if it had come after a little back-and-forth competitiveness, easily could have knocked the champ down a few pegs in the rankings.

Then Rousey went out and found a new way to rise above it all.

Facing a brawler with no more than a miniscule puncher’s chance, one whose aggressiveness would put her in the crosshairs of the champ’s divine grappling game, Rousey showed not the least bit of interest in taking the fight to the mat. She came out throwing punches, not distance-gauging jabs but big bombs aimed to shut up—and shut down—the challenger. The Rousey ruckus backed up Correia, and the buzzsaw of punches continued until the referee jumped in 34 seconds into the fight. It was a knockout performance.

So Rousey remains No. 1 in these rankings, even as her star has burst out into ever more prominence in the popular culture. Just as inside the octagon, the 28-year-old makes all the right moves outside it—from starring on the silver screen alongside Sylvester Stallone and the Entourage boys, to winning a couple of ESPY Awards and then burning serial domestic abuser Floyd Mayweather in her acceptance speech. None of that extracurricular activity plays into the SI tally, though. In our eyes, Rousey remains on top of the MMA game simply because she’s the most dominant fighter the octagon has ever seen.

On to the rankings …


1. Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1)
2. Cain Velasquez (13-2)
3. Junior dos Santos (17-3)
4. Stipe Miocic (13-2)
5. Andrei Arlovski (24-10, 1 NC)
6. Travis Browne (17-3-1)
7. Ben Rothwell (35-9)
8. Mark Hunt (10-10-1)
9. Alistair Overeem (39-14)
10. Frank Mir (17-9)

Maybe not next month, but soon, we could see a new name on this list. Well, not a new name, exactly. Fedor Emelianenko, who some regard as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, or at least the best heavyweight ever, is said to be negotiating with the UFC and Bellator to return to the sport after a three-year retirement. 

Light heavyweight

1. Daniel Cormier (16-1)
2. Anthony Johnson (19-5)
3. Alexander Gustafsson (16-3)
4. Ryan Bader (19-4)
5. Phil Davis (13-3, 1 NC)
6. Glover Teixeira (22-4)
7. Ovince Saint Preux (18-6)
8. Liam McGeary (10-0)
9. Jimi Manuwa (14-1)
10. Emanuel Newton (25-8-1)

Gustafsson has lost two of his last three fights, most recently via knockout at the hands of Johnson, but the UFC has chosen him to be the first challenger for Cormier. Their dance will headline UFC 192 in Houston on Oct. 3.


1. Chris Weidman (13-0)
2. Luke Rockhold (14-2)
3. Ronaldo Souza (22-3, 1 NC)
4. Yoel Romero (10-1)
5. Vitor Belfort (24-11)
6. Lyoto Machida (22-7)
7. Tim Kennedy (18-5)
8. Michael Bisping (26-7)
9. Gegard Mousasi (37-5-2)
10. Thales Leites (25-5)

Bisping continues to linger on the outskirts of contention, his decision win over Leites securing his spot on this list, but far below the champ and his top suitors.


1. Robbie Lawler (26-10, 1 NC)
2. Johny Hendricks (17-3)
3. Rory MacDonald (18-3)
4. Tyron Woodley (15-3)
5. Matt Brown (20-13)
6. Ben Askren (14-0)
7. Carlos Condit (30-8)
8. Demian Maia (21-6)
9. Kelvin Gastelum (10-1)
10. Stephen Thompson (11-1)

And the next challenger for Lawler’s belt is … Condit? “The Natural Born Killer” is coming off a win, but has dropped three of his last five, including losses to Woodley and Hendricks. Hmm. The title fight is Nov. 15 in Melbourne.


1. Rafael dos Anjos (24-7)
2. Anthony Pettis (18-3)
3. Donald Cerrone (28-6, 1 NC)
4. Benson Henderson (21-5)
5. Eddie Alvarez (26-4)
6. Myles Jury (15-1)
7. Will Brooks (16-1)
8. Tony Ferguson (18-3)
9. Michael Johnson (16-8)
10. Edson Barboza (15-3)

Johnson fell a notch following this past weekend’s puzzling split-decision loss to Beneil Dariush, who is 12-1 and on the verge of staking a place on this list.


1. José Aldo (25-1)
2. Frankie Edgar (19-4-1)
3. Conor McGregor (18-2)
4. Chad Mendes (17-3)
5. Ricardo Lamas (15-4)
6. Patricio Freire (22-2)
7. Max Holloway (13-3)
8. Cub Swanson (21-7)
9. Charles Oliveira (20-4, 1 NC)
10. Jeremy Stephens (24-11)

Nice contenders-on-the-verge eliminator bout coming up on Aug. 23, when Holloway and Oliveira clash in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. And, oh yeah, Aldo vs. McGregor should be rescheduled anytime now.


1. T.J. Dillashaw (12-2)
2. Dominick Cruz (20-1)
3. Renan Barão (33-3, 1 NC)
4. Urijah Faber (31-8)
5. Raphael Assunção (23-4)
6. Bibianio Fernandes (16-3)
7. Marcos Galvão (17-6-1)
8. Aljamain Sterling (11-0)
9. Joe Warren (12-4)
10. Eduardo Dantas (16-4)

Dillashaw’s second win over Barão was as much of a whooping as the first, and it boosts the champ to the top of this list, above injured ex-champ Cruz. Can’t wait for those two to dance.


1. Demetrious Johnson (22-2-1)
2. Joseph Benavidez (22-4)
3. John Dodson (17-6)
4. Ian McCall (13-5-1)
5. Henry Cejudo (9-0)
6. Jussier da Silva (18-3)
7. John Lineker (25-7)
8. Zach Makovsky (19-6)
9. John Moraga (16-4)
10. Kyoji Horiguchi (15-2)

Last time Johnson and Dodson tangled, it was the champ’s toughest defense. The rematch is Sept. 5 in Las Vegas, in the marquee bout of UFC 191.

Women’s bantamweight

1. Ronda Rousey (12-0)
2. Cat Zingano (9-1)
3. Miesha Tate (17-5)
4. Alexis Davis (17-6)
5. Jessica Eye (11-3, 1 NC)
6. Sarah Kaufman (16-3, 1 NC)
7. Amanda Nunes (11-4)
8. Liz Carmouche (10-5)
9. Holly Holm (9-0)
10. Sara McMann (8-3)

The pecking order: Rousey, a huge gap, then everyone else on the list. But the others are jockeying for the opportunity to challenge the champ. Next up is Tate III. Holm is rising, McMann falling.

Women’s strawweight

1. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (10-0)
2. Claudia Gadelha (13-1)
3. Carla Esparza (10-3)
4. Jessica Aguilar (19-5)
5. Rose Namajunas (2-2)
6. Maryna Moroz (6-0)
7. Joanne Calderwood (9-1)
8. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (7-0)
9. Jessica Penne (12-3)
10. Tecia Torres (6-0)

Gadelha hasn’t yet been named Jedrzejczyk’s next challenger, but she earned a rematch of their December 2014 split decision with a thumping of Aguilar.


1. Ronda Rousey
2. José Aldo
3. Chris Weidman
4. Demetrious Johnson
5. Robbie Lawler
6. Fabricio Werdum
7. T.J. Dillashaw
8. Cain Velasquez
9. Frankie Edgar
10. Daniel Cormier

Dillashaw wasn’t on this list last month, but his second beatdown and finish of Renan Barão earned him a spot. Emphatically.  

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