José Aldo (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press MMA Rankings: March 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. Francis Ngannou (5)
  5. Alexander Volkov (4)
  6. Curtis Blaydes (6)
  7. Alistair Overeem (7)
  8. Fabricio Werdum (8)
  9. Junior dos Santos (9)
  10. Aleksei Oleinik (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Vitaly Minakov (10)

The month of February featured two fights which affected the heavyweight top 10. Former UFC champion Cain Velasquez returned at UFC on ESPN 1 in Phoenix, but he couldn’t last 30 seconds against power-punching Francis Ngannou. The win boosts Ngannou into the fourth spot in the rankings. Former Bellator titleholder Vitaly Minakov returned to the promotion at Bellator 216, but he suffered the first blemish on his record with a decision loss to Cheick Kongo. The Russian Minakov falls from the top 10 with the loss, opening the door for fellow countryman Aleksei Oleinik to enter the rankings.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Jan Błachowicz (10)

The UFC’s trip to Prague for UFC on ESPN+ 3 may have uncovered the next contender at 205 pounds. Brazilian Thiago Santos crushed 10th-ranked Jan Błachowicz in the third round of their headlining affair. The win vaults Santos into the No. 8 spot, while Błachowicz falls out of the top 10.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Georges St-Pierre (1)

Two things shook up the middleweight division in February. First, UFC 234 took place in Australia and current champion Robert Whittaker was forced out due to hernia surgery. As a result, the bout between Israel Adesanya and former champion Anderson Silva was elevated to main-event status. Adesanya came out on top, skyrocketing the former kickboxer to the No. 3 spot in the rankings. The other major change comes outside the cage, as former titleholder Georges St-Pierre officially retired from competition and has been removed from the rankings.

  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. Demian Maia (9)
  9. Darren Till (8)
  10. Santiago Ponzinibbio (10)

Brazilian Demian Maia may be past his 40th birthday, but the grappling ace proved he’s still one of the most dangerous welterweights on the planet at UFC on ESPN+ 2. Maia easily submitted Lyman Good inside the first round, climbing up to eighth in the process.

  1. Khabib Nurmagomedov (1)
  2. Tony Ferguson (2)
  3. Conor McGregor (3)
  4. Dustin Poirier (4)
  5. Eddie Alvarez (5)
  6. Justin Gaethje (6)
  7. Al Iaquinta (7)
  8. Edson Barboza (8)
  9. Donald Cerrone (8)
  10. Anthony Pettis (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 (4)
  5. Alex Volkanovski (6)
  6. Renato Moicano (5)
  7. Chad Mendes (7)
  8. Jeremy Stephens (8)
  9. Josh Emmett (9)
  10. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (10)

Anyone writing off former featherweight champion José Aldo may want to pump the brakes. The Brazilian was in action at UFC on ESPN+ 2 against his fellow countryman Renato Moicano. Less than a minute into the second round, Moicano’s hype train was derailed and set ablaze. Aldo remains firmly planted in the second spot in the rankings, while Moicano slides to sixth in defeat.

  1. T.J. Dillashaw (1)
  2. Cody Garbrandt (2)
  3. Marlon Moraes (5)
  4. John Lineker (3)
  5. Raphael Assunção (4)
  6. Kyoji Horiguchi (7)
  7. Aljamain Sterling (-)
  8. Jimmie Rivera (6)
  9. Peter Yan (-)
  10. John Dodson (8)

Dropped from the rankings: Darrion Caldwell (9), Pedro Munhoz (10)

Bantamweight was the busiest division in February, with multiple bouts impacting the rankings. UFC on ESPN+ 2 featured a rematch between Brazilians Marlon Moraes and Raphael Assunção. However, unlike the first meeting, there was no need for the scorecards, as Moraes stunned Assunção and finished him with a guillotine choke in the first round. The victory earns Moraes the third spot in the rankings. In the UFC’s trip to Phoenix for its first ESPN card, Aljamain Sterling completely dominated sixth-ranked Jimmie Rivera over three rounds. Sterling’s win allows him to re-enter the top 10 at No. 7, with Rivera dropping to eighth. There’s also a new face in the top 10. Petr Yan punished The Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson for three rounds at UFC on ESPN+ 3 in Prague. Yan claims the No. 9 spot, with Dodson slipping to 10th. The inclusion of Sterling and Yan pushes both Darrion Caldwell and Pedro Munhoz out of 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)

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

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

Dropped from the rankings: Georges St-Pierre (3)

With one of the sport’s all-time greats hanging up the gloves for good, there was an opening in the pound-for-pound top 10. UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas claims the vacant spot.

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.