Demetrious Johnson moves up to No. 3 in's pound-for-pound MMA rankings for September.

By Jeff Wagenheim
September 11, 2015

Fighter rankings are not popularity contests. Fighter rankings have nothing to do with establishing a brand. Fighter rankings don’t factor in which contenders will make the most money for the UFC, its sponsors, and its broadcast partners.

Fighter rankings hold their hands over their ears whenever they’re in the vicinity of trash talk. They don’t listen to excuses, either, so don’t bother complaining about the referee or the judges or the cornerman who ate your homework.

Just go out there and perform. Be better than everyone else, and you’ll rise to the top of the heap. That’s the way it should be.

That’s good for Demetrious Johnson.

The UFC flyweight champion is one of the finest fighters in mixed martial arts, and one of the true gentlemen of the game, but that’s not enough to win him favor with the fans. His most recent title defense was at last weekend’s UFC 191 in Las Vegas, and the MGM Grand Garden Arena started emptying out while his fight with John Dodson still was playing out. And even while the champ was putting on a masterfully dominant performance, many of the fans who remained in their seats did so, apparently, so they could boo.

Now, paying customers have a right to respond to the product however they wish, within the bounds of decorum. But what does it say about a sport’s fanbase when a sublime competitor in the prime of his career is thrashing everyone the matchmakers stand in front of him, each time putting on display arguably the most potent combination of athleticism and technical chops in the sport … and is being booed?

Never mind what it says about the fans. That’s a rant for a different time. This is a time to celebrate the man known as “Mighty Mouse,” who on the strength of this latest win has moved up one spot to No. 3 in the pound-for-pound rankings.

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No disrespect intended to Chris Weidman, the leapfrogged middleweight champ, but Johnson’s dominance is impossible to minimize. He now owns two victories over the No. 2 flyweight in the world, Joseph Benavidez, and two victories over No. 3 Dodson. He’s defended his title seven times, which is to say he’s closing in on Anderson Silva’s record of 10 consecutive UFC title defenses.

So what if there were boos and early departures at UFC 191? So what if the event’s announced gate of $1.3 million was the lowest in 11 years for a UFC PPV in Vegas? So what? Johnson is a fighter to watch.

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 (25-10, 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. Josh Barnett (33-7)

Barnett, who took over the No. 10 spot from Frank Mir in the wake of Mir’s lackluster loss against Arlovski last month, finally will return to the octagon Sept. 27 after an absence of a year and nine months. He faces Roy Nelson, who’s lost four of his last five.

Light heavyweight
1. Daniel Cormier (16-1)
2. Anthony Johnson (20-5)
3. Alexander Gustafsson (16-3)
4. Ryan Bader (19-4)
5. Phil Davis (13-3, 1 NC)
6. Glover Teixeira (23-4)
7. Rashad Evans (19-3)
8. Liam McGeary (10-0)
9. Ovince Saint Preux (18-7)
10. Emanuel Newton (25-8-1)

After battling injuries since last 2013, Evans returns Oct. 3 against Bader. (A scheduled fight makes him once again eligible for this list, and his inclusion pushes out Jimi Manuwa.) Will the winner get a title shot? Probably, as long as Jon Jones doesn’t return.

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)

Weidman and Rockhold have switched from verbal jabs to somewhat harder shots, but the violence will not be verbal come Dec. 12 in the co-main event of UFC 194.

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. Stephen Thompson (11-1)
10. Dong Hyun Kim (20-3-1)

Lawler was to defend his strap against Condit in November, but a thumb injury has sidelined the champ until January, at which point that same matchup is expected to take place.

1. Rafael dos Anjos (24-7)
2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)
3. Anthony Pettis (18-3)
4. Donald Cerrone (28-6, 1 NC)
5. Benson Henderson (21-5)
6. Eddie Alvarez (26-4)
7. Myles Jury (15-1)
8. Will Brooks (16-1)
9. Tony Ferguson (18-3)
10. Edson Barboza (15-3)

Nurmagomedov bowed out of these rankings because of injury-related inactivity, but now he has a December date with Ferguson, so he’s back. But not back on top. The unbeaten Dagestan might be the uncrowned champ, having dominated Dos Anjos last year, but let’s see how he looks after 17 months out of the cage.

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 (14-3)
8. Cub Swanson (21-7)
9. Charles Oliveira (20-5, 1 NC)
10. Jeremy Stephens (24-11)

We have to wait until December to see Aldo and McGregor put their belt and faux belt on the line? It’s going to be a long couple of months.

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)

Cruz is healed up (again) and ready to go (at last), and he and Dillashaw have been scheduled for a January dance-off to settle who gets to wear the belt and who must find a different way to keep his pants from falling down.

1. Demetrious Johnson (23-2-1)
2. Joseph Benavidez (22-4)
3. John Dodson (17-7)
4. John Moraga (16-4)
5. Henry Cejudo (9-0)
6. Ian McCall (13-5-1)
7. Jussier da Silva (18-3)
8. Zach Makovsky (19-6)
9. John Moraga (16-4)
10. Kyoji Horiguchi (15-2)

Johnson has already beaten back the challenges of Benavidez (twice), Dodson (twice), and Moraga, so is Cejudo next? Is the 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medalist ready? Is any 125-pouder ready for “Mighty Mouse”?

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)

How silly of Tate to think she had the next title shot sewed up, just because Dana White publicly made that guarantee. Like the wind, the UFC president has shifted direction, slotting the raw Holm into a slaughterhouse matchup with “Rowdy Ronda” in a 70,000-seat stadium in Melbourne in November.

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. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (7-0)
7. Joanne Calderwood (9-1)
8. Tecia Torres (6-0)
9. Valerie Letourneau (8-3)
10. Maryna Moroz (6-1)

Handing Moroz her first loss last month turned into a big deal for Letourneau, who has been handed the next shot at Jedrzejczyk. The champ was expected to face Gadelha, but that must wait until the Brazilian’s hand injury heals.

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

Rousey is also on Hollywood’s pound-for-pound list, apparently, having signed to star in another movie. Enjoy her while you still can, fight fans.

Eagle (-2)
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