As MMA continues to grow its presence with the UFC, Bellator MMA, KSW, PFL and ONE Championship, fighters are constantly jockeying for position in the eyes (and rankings) of the media.

Every month, Combat Press will rank each weight class from heavyweight to flyweight, as well as the pound-for-pound rankings (including all genders).

Note: the numbers in parentheses represent the fighter’s ranking from the previous rankings.

Heavyweight
  1. Stipe Miocic (1)
  2. Cain Velasquez (2)
  3. Francis Ngannou (8)
  4. Alistair Overeem (3)
  5. Fabricio Werdum (4)
  6. Junior dos Santos (5)
  7. Josh Barnett (6)
  8. Mark Hunt (7)
  9. Alexander Volkov (9)
  10. Derrick Lewis (10)

The next heavyweight title challenger was determined at UFC 218 as Francis Ngannou demolished Alistair Overeem inside the first round. The victory rockets Ngannou into the No. 3 spot in the rankings, while Overeem slips to fourth.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Daniel Cormier (1)
  2. Alexander Gustafsson (2)
  3. Ryan Bader (3)
  4. Phil Davis (4)
  5. Glover Teixeira (5)
  6. Volkan Oezdemir (6)
  7. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (7)
  8. Jimi Manuwa (8)
  9. Ovince Saint Preux (9)
  10. Ilir Latifi (10)

Former title challenger Glover Teixeira reminded everyone at UFC on Fox 26 that he still has gas left in the tank by finishing Misha Cirkunov by TKO in the first round. The Brazilian stays in the fifth spot in the rankings.

Middleweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)
  2. Robert Whittaker (2)
  3. Yoel Romero (3)
  4. Luke Rockhold (4)
  5. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (5)
  6. Gegard Mousasi (6)
  7. Chris Weidman (7)
  8. Kelvin Gastelum (8)
  9. Michael Bisping (9)
  10. Ben Askren (10)

No fighters in the middleweight top 10 were in the cage during December, but that doesn’t mean the division was void of news. Recently crowned UFC champion Georges St-Pierre has given up his belt, citing health issues and a potential return to the welterweight division. Also, 10th-ranked Ben Askren has shown no signs of returning to action whether it be in ONE Championship or elsewhere. The absence of both fighters will likely open the door for two new fighters in the coming months.

Welterweight
  1. Tyron Woodley (1)
  2. Stephen Thompson (2)
  3. Rafael dos Anjos (9)
  4. Colby Covington (4)
  5. Demian Maia (5)
  6. Robbie Lawler (3)
  7. Rory MacDonald (7)
  8. Jorge Masvidal (8)
  9. Douglas Lima (10)/Kamaru Usman (10)
  10. Santiago Ponzinibbio (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Carlos Condit (6)

The past month was plenty busy for the welterweight division. Former champion Robbie Lawler was in action at UFC on Fox 26 against former lightweight titleholder Rafael dos Anjos. Dos Anjos battered Lawler over the course of five rounds to make a case for a shot at champion Tyron Woodley. With the win, dos Anjos climbs to No. 3 in the rankings, whereas Lawler slides to No. 6. Also on the same card, Santiago Ponzinibbio worked his way back into the top 10 with a decision win over Mike Perry. Finally, former interim champion Carlos Condit returned to action at UFC 219 after a 16-month layoff and was outworked over three rounds by Neil Magny. The loss drops Condit from the rankings, but the win was not enough for Magny to crack the top 10.

Lightweight
  1. Conor McGregor (1)
  2. Tony Ferguson (2)
  3. Khabib Nurmagomedov (3)
  4. Eddie Alvarez (4)
  5. Justin Gaethje (5)
  6. Edson Barboza (6)
  7. Michael Johnson (8)
  8. Dustin Poirier (9)
  9. Kevin Lee (10)
  10. Al Iaquinta (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Nate Diaz (7)

December was an important month for the lightweight elite, as four of the top six fighters in the division were in the cage. At UFC 218, The Ultimate Fighter 26 coaches Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje squared off. Alvarez handed Gaethje his first career loss with a third-round TKO finish. The victory keeps Alvarez at No. 4 in the rankings, with Gaethje hanging onto the fifth spot, even in defeat. To close out the year, No. 3-ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov returned to the Octagon at UFC 219. He completely dismantled sixth-ranked Edson Barboza to state his case for a crack at either champion Conor McGregor or interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Featherweight
  1. Max Holloway (1)
  2. José Aldo (2)
  3. Frankie Edgar (3)
  4. Bibiano Fernandes (6)
  5. Brian Ortega (-)
  6. Cub Swanson (5)
  7. Josh Emmett (-)
  8. Ricardo Lamas (4)
  9. Chan Sung Jung (8)
  10. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (9)

Dropped from the rankings: Charles Oliveira (7), Yair Rodriguez (10)

The featherweight top 10 underwent a number of changes based on the action in December. At the top of the division, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway cemented himself as the No. 1 fighter in the division with a second consecutive finish of former champion José Aldo at UFC 218. The UFC Fight Night 123 main event established a new contender as undefeated Brian Ortega submitted Cub Swanson to vault up the rankings. Ortega claims the No. 5 spot, while Swanson falls to sixth. That was far from the only upset of the month, however. UFC on Fox 26 featured Josh Emmett scoring a violent knockout of former title challenger Ricardo Lamas. The win moves Emmett into the No. 7 slot, with Lamas sliding from fourth to eighth. With the inclusion of Ortega and Emmett, previously ranked Charles Oliveira and Yair Rodriguez fall from the rankings.

Bantamweight
  1. T.J. Dillashaw (1)
  2. Cody Garbrandt (2)
  3. Dominick Cruz (3)
  4. Raphael Assunção (4)
  5. John Lineker (5)
  6. Marlon Moraes (7)
  7. Jimmie Rivera (6)
  8. John Dodson (8)
  9. Bryan Caraway (9)
  10. Darrion Caldwell (10 – tie)

Dropped from the rankings: Aljamain Sterling (10 – tie)

Former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes picked up one of the year’s most devastating finishes at UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno, Calif. Moraes threw a head kick as opponent Aljamain Sterling shot for a takedown, delivering a knee flush to Sterling’s jaw. The win earns Moraes the No. 6 spot in the top 10, with Sterling falling out of a tie for 10th with the loss.

Flyweight
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)
  2. Joseph Benavidez (2)
  3. Henry Cejudo (3)
  4. Kyoji Horiguchi (4)
  5. Ray Borg (5)
  6. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (6)
  7. Sergio Pettis (7)
  8. Wilson Reis (8)
  9. Brandon Moreno (9)
  10. Dustin Ortiz (10)

Third-ranked Henry Cejudo continued his march toward another title shot at UFC 218, where he cruised to a decision win over seventh-ranked Sergio Pettis. Cejudo holds onto the No. 3 slot with the victory. Also in action during the month, albeit at bantamweight, was fourth-ranked Kyoji Horiguchi. The Japanese slugger capped off three wins in three days with a knockout victory over King of Pancrase Shintaro Ishiwatari on New Year’s Eve.

Pound-For-Pound
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)
  2. Georges St-Pierre (2)
  3. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (3)
  4. Daniel Cormier (4)
  5. Conor McGregor (5)
  6. Stipe Miocic (6)
  7. Max Holloway (7)
  8. T.J. Dillashaw (8)
  9. Amanda Nunes (9)
  10. Tyron Woodley (10)

In addition to Holloway’s successful title defense at UFC 218, the most dominant female fighter on the planet, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, defended her belt at UFC 219. Cyborg put together the most complete performance of her career, outstriking former bantamweight champion Holly Holm over the course of five rounds. The Brazilian remains at No. 3 in the pound-for-pound rankings with the win.


Editor’s Note: Fighters are eligible to be ranked if they have competed in the last 18 months. Any fighter that chooses to switch weight classes will be ranked in their previous weight class until they have competed twice in their new division.

About The Author

Rob Tatum
Assistant Editor

Rob Tatum has been covering combat sports since 2009. His work has appeared on InvictaFC.com, The MMA Corner, Bleacher Report MMA, MMA DieHards and MMAinterviews. Prior to covering combat sports, Rob ran his own music website from 2002-2009. Beyond his writing, Rob has trained in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. He is a Colorado native that works as a mechanical engineer during the day. In his free time, Rob enjoys watching sports, playing music and working on cars.

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