Daniel Cormier (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press MMA Rankings: December 2018

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.


  1. Daniel Cormier (1)
  2. Stipe Miocic (2)
  3. Derrick Lewis (4)
  4. Alexander Volkov (5)
  5. Francis Ngannou (6)
  6. Curtis Blaydes (3)
  7. Alistair Overeem (7)
  8. Fabricio Werdum (8)
  9. Junior dos Santos (9)
  10. Vitaly Minakov (10)

Daniel Cormier solidified his spot atop the heavyweight rankings early in the month of November when he defeated Derrick Lewis at UFC 230. Cormier was able to secure a rear-naked choke in the second round of the fight to make his first successful defense of the strap. Lewis, despite the loss, slides up to the third spot in our poll. Lewis benefits from Francis Ngannou’s 45-second demolition of Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes, the former No. 3, falls to the sixth spot, while Ngannou slides up to fifth.

Light Heavyweight
  1. Daniel Cormier (1)
  2. Alexander Gustafsson (2)
  3. Ryan Bader (3)
  4. Anthony Smith (5)
  5. Ilir Latifi (6)
  6. Corey Anderson (7)
  7. Volkan Oezdemir (8)
  8. Dominick Reyes (10)
  9. Glover Teixeira (9)
  10. Jan Blachowicz (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Phil Davis (4)

Daniel Cormier’s continuing campaign as a heavyweight may eventually cost him the top spot in the light heavyweight rankings. It definitely appears to be set to cost him the light heavyweight belt, as confirmed by UFC President Dana White. Meanwhile, Phil Davis’s recent loss at the hands of Vadim Nemkov at Bellator 209 has sent shockwaves through the rest of the division. With Davis out of the top 10, most of the bottom half of last month’s group simply move up a spot. The one exception was Glover Teixeira, who stays put at No. 9 and gets leapfrogged by Dominick Reyes. With Davis out, Jan Blachowicz returns to the rankings after a one-month absence.

  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)
  2. Robert Whittaker (2)
  3. Yoel Romero (3)
  4. Luke Rockhold (4)
  5. Gegard Mousasi (5)
  6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (8)
  7. Kelvin Gastelum (7)
  8. Chris Weidman (6)
  9. Israel Adesanya (9)
  10. Paulo Costa (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Derek Brunson (10)

The fallout of UFC 230 is clear in this month’s middleweight rankings. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza finished Chris Weidman in the third round of their co-headlining affair. Jacare and Weidman swap positions in the top 10, with the Brazilian moving up to sixth and the American dropping to the No. 8 spot. The pay-per-view event also gave fans another glimpse into the elite striking skills of former kickboxer Israel Adesanya. Adesanya put on a brilliant display with a first-round knockout of Derek Brunson, who relinquishes his spot in the rankings with the loss. Adesanya is poised for a move up the ladder when he meets former middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva in February, but he holds steady for now at No. 9. With Brunson out, the undefeated Paulo “Borrachinha” Costa snags the final spot in this month’s poll.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Jorge Masvidal (9)

UFC Fight Night 140 played host to a headlining clash between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Neil Magny on Ponzinibbio’s home soil in Argentina. Ponzinibbio was able to finish Magny with strikes in the fourth round. With the victory, the Argentine fighter forces his way into the top 10 and pushes former No. 9 Jorge Masvidal, who hasn’t fought this year, outside of the rankings.

  1. Khabib Nurmagomedov (1)
  2. Tony Ferguson (2)
  3. Conor McGregor (3)
  4. Dustin Poirier (4)
  5. Eddie Alvarez (5)
  6. Kevin Lee (6)
  7. Justin Gaethje (7)
  8. Edson Barboza (8)
  9. Anthony Pettis (9)
  10. Brent Primus (10)

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

  1. Max Holloway (1)
  2. José Aldo (2)
  3. Brian Ortega (3)
  4. Frankie Edgar (5)
  5. Chad Mendes (6)
  6. Renato Moicano (7)
  7. Jeremy Stephens (8)
  8. Josh Emmett (9)
  9. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (10)
  10. Cub Swanson (-) / Ricardo Lamas (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Bibiano Fernandes (4)

Talk about a shocker! Longtime featherweight top-10 resident Bibiano Fernandes appeared destined to continue his reign atop ONE Championship’s bantamweight division — the weigh-in rules of the Asian promotion mean that the promotion’s bantamweights are actually featherweights. Kevin Belingon had different plans, though. The Filipino fighter, who had suffered a previous loss to Fernandes, got his revenge at ONE Championship: Heart of a Lion when he squeaked past the veteran grappler for a split-decision win. Fernandes nosedives out of the rankings as a result, while everyone below him shuffles up a spot. At UFC Fight Night 140, Ricardo Lamas reasserted himself as a contender with a solid victory over Darren Elkins. He joins Cub Swanson in a tie for the No. 10 spot in the rankings.

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

No fighters in the top 10 were in action during the past month, so the rankings remain unchanged.

  1. Henry Cejudo (1)
  2. Demetrious Johnson (2)
  3. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (3)
  4. Sergio Pettis (4)
  5. Joseph Benavidez (5)
  6. Ray Borg (6)
  7. Deiveson Figueiredo (7)
  8. John Moraga (8)
  9. Wilson Reis (9)
  10. Dustin Ortiz (10)

The biggest news for the flyweight division did not come inside the cage, but rather in the UFC’s decision to move away from the weight class. This could have substantial consequences on the division’s rankings in the coming months as some fighters move up to the UFC’s bantamweight division and others find new places to ply their trade.

  1. Daniel Cormier (1)
  2. Georges St-Pierre (2)
  3. Demetrious Johnson (3)
  4. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (4)
  5. Max Holloway (5)
  6. Khabib Nurmagomedov (6)
  7. T.J. Dillashaw (7)
  8. Henry Cejudo (8)
  9. Amanda Nunes (9)
  10. Tyron Woodley (10)

Daniel Cormier, the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, added to his legacy with his title defense against Derrick Lewis in November. Cormier retains his spot at the top of the mountain.

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. Fighters who announce their retirement will remain ranked for a period of six months following their final bout.