Jon Jones (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press MMA Rankings: January 2019

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 (3)
  4. Alexander Volkov (4)
  5. Francis Ngannou (5)
  6. Curtis Blaydes (6)
  7. Alistair Overeem (7)
  8. Fabricio Werdum (8)
  9. Junior dos Santos (9)
  10. Vitaly Minakov (10)

Former titleholder Junior dos Santos returned to action at UFC Fight Night 142 in Australia, where he stopped the previously undefeated Tai Tuivasa in the second round. The win now gives the Brazilian three victories over his last four Octagon appearances, but he remains at No. 9 in the rankings.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Ilir Latifi (5)

Love him or hate him, the king of the light heavyweight division is back. Jon Jones returned from a 15-month steroid suspension at UFC 232 and promptly dismantled Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson to recapture the 205-pound belt, which was recently vacated by Daniel Cormier. Jones reclaims his spot atop the rankings with the third-round knockout finish. Also at the Los Angeles event, The Ultimate Fighter winner Corey Anderson used superior cardio to outlast power-puncher Ilir Latifi on the scorecards. Anderson stays at No. 6, while Latifi slides out of the top 10 with the decision loss and the inclusion of Jones.

  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 (6)
  7. Kelvin Gastelum (7)
  8. Chris Weidman (8)
  9. Israel Adesanya (9)
  10. Paulo Costa (10)

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

  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 (9)
  10. Santiago Ponzinibbio (10)

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

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

Dropped from the rankings: Brent Primus (10)

December was a busy month in the lightweight division. The UFC’s visit to Milwaukee for UFC on Fox 31 featured a rematch between sixth-ranked Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta. Iaquinta dominated Lee en route to a five-round decision win. The loss drops Lee into eighth, while Iaquinta re-enters the rankings in a tie for seventh position. The same event featured Brazilian Edson Barboza, who finished New Zealand’s Dan Hooker to move into a tie with Iaquinta. Finally, Bellator 212 hosted the long-awaited rematch between Michael Chandler and Brent Primus. Chandler exacted revenge on Primus, capturing all five rounds on the scorecards to reclaim his title. As a result, Chandler replaces Primus in the top 10.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Cub Swanson (10 – tie), Ricardo Lamas (10 – tie)

UFC 231 featured one of the best fights of 2018, as UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway battled challenger Brian Ortega. The back-and-forth battle went four rounds, but the Hawaiian Holloway was masterful with his striking en route to forcing a stoppage before the final round began. Holloway and Ortega keep their respective rankings with the outcome. While the top half of the division remained the same, UFC 232 shook up the bottom portion. Australia’s Alex Volkanovski picked up his 16th straight win — and sixth straight under the UFC banner — with a second-round TKO of former title challenger Chad Mendes. Mendes falls from fifth to seventh with the defeat, while Volkanovski enters the rankings for the first time in the sixth spot.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Dominick Cruz (3)

The lone bout featuring fighters in the bantamweight top 10 took place on New Year’s Eve in Japan at Rizin 14. Bellator MMA champion Darrion Caldwell trekked to the Land of the Rising Sun to take on former UFC flyweight title contender Kyoji Horiguchi for the Rizin bantamweight belt. Japan’s Horiguchi put on a show as he submitted Caldwell in the third round with a guillotine choke. The victory moves Horiguchi into seventh in the rankings, while Caldwell remains at ninth. Former UFC champion Dominick Cruz has been removed from the rankings due to inactivity, allowing Brazilian Pedro Munhoz to enter the top 10.

  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)

Two members of the flyweight top 10 were in the cage during December, but Sergio Pettis competed as a bantamweight against Rob Font at UFC on Fox 31. Ninth-ranked Wilson Reis fought at UFC Fight Night 142 in Australia, where he bested Ben Nguyen via unanimous decision. Reis holds onto his ranking with the win.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (4)

The month’s most shocking result came at UFC 232. Women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes moved up in weight to challenge fourth-ranked Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino for the featherweight title. In under a minute, Nunes knocked out her fellow Brazilian. The win vaults Nunes into the sixth spot, while Cyborg falls outside the top 10 with the stunning defeat. Much like in the light heavyweight rankings, Jon Jones has moved into the top spot in the pound-for-pound rankings after his knockout win at UFC 232. Featherweight champion Max Holloway did not improve his position, despite his impressive performance at UFC 231.

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.