Kamaru Usman (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Combat Press MMA Rankings: April 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. Junior dos Santos (9)
  4. Derrick Lewis (3)
  5. Francis Ngannou (4)
  6. Curtis Blaydes (6)
  7. Alexander Volkov (5)
  8. Alistair Overeem (7)
  9. Fabricio Werdum (8)
  10. Aleksei Oleinik (10)

In March, a former UFC champion inched closer to the title picture. Brazilian Junior dos Santos stopped recent title challenger Derrick Lewis by TKO at UFC on ESPN+ 4 in Kansas. The win vaults dos Santos into the No. 3 spot in the rankings, while Lewis slides to fourth. Sixth-ranked Curtis Blaydes dispatched Justin Willis at UFC on ESPN+ 6 in Nashville. Blaydes remains sixth in the rankings.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Daniel Cormier (2)

March was a busy month for the 205-pound ranks. Top-ranked Jon Jones put his UFC belt on the line at UFC 235 against Anthony Smith and turned in a dominant performance. An errant knee from Jones cost him two points, but the result was never in doubt, as Jones retained the title and the top spot in the rankings. On the same card, Brazilian Johnny Walker ran through Misha Cirkunov in just 36 seconds, earning the 10th spot in the rankings in the process. Later in the month, at UFC on ESPN+ 5 in London, Dominick Reyes scored a controversial decision win over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir. The result shuffled the bottom half of the division, with Brazilian Thiago Santos moving up to fifth, ahead of Reyes. With former champion Daniel Cormier focusing on the heavyweight division, he has been removed from the light-heavyweight top 10.

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

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

  1. Kamaru Usman (7)
  2. Tyron Woodley (1)
  3. Colby Covington (2)
  4. Ben Askren (-)
  5. Rafael dos Anjos (4)
  6. Robbie Lawler (5)
  7. Anthony Pettis (-)
  8. Stephen Thompson (3)
  9. Rory MacDonald (6)
  10. Demian Maia (8)

Dropped from the rankings: Darren Till (9), Santiago Ponzinibbio (10)

The past month sent the welterweight division into upheaval. The chaos began at UFC 235, where seventh-ranked Kamaru Usman completely dominated champion Tyron Woodley to capture the UFC title. Usman now finds himself atop the division, with Woodley dropping to second. The same card featured former Bellator MMA and ONE Championship beltholder Ben Askren in his promotional debut against veteran Robbie Lawler. While there was controversy in the finish, Askren’s bulldog-choke victory moves him into fourth in the rankings. Those results were just the beginning of the shakeup. At UFC on ESPN+ 5 in London, Jorge Masvidal turned out the lights on recent title challenger Darren Till. Till’s knockout loss causes him to tumble out of the top 10. In the UFC’s trip to Nashville for UFC on ESPN+ 6, former UFC and WEC champion Anthony Pettis moved up in weight and scored a “Knockout of the Year” candidate by crushing Stephen Thompson with a superman punch. The unexpected finish vaults Pettis into the welterweight top 10 in seventh, and Thompson tumbles from third to eighth.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Eddie Alvarez (5), Anthony Pettis (10)

The lightweight rankings were shuffled primarily due to fighters leaving the division. Former champions Eddie Alvarez and Anthony Pettis both competed as welterweights in March with very different results. Alvarez debuted under the ONE Championship banner in the promotion’s “lightweight” (170-pound) tournament, where he was stopped by Timofey Nastyukhin in the first round. Pettis, meanwhile, found success by stopping Stephen Thompson to enter the welterweight rankings. Two of the remaining top 10 were in the cage together in the UFC on ESPN 2 main event in Philadelphia. Bonus machine Justin Gaethje continued his reign as the violence king by knocking out Brazilian Edson Barboza in less than a round. Gaethje moves up to fifth with the win, while Barboza falls to ninth in defeat. With Alvarez and Pettis moving up in weight, former UFC interim title challenger Kevin Lee re-enters the top 10 in eighth and Bellator MMA champion Michael Chandler once again lands in 10th. Third-ranked Conor McGregor tweeted his retirement from “mixed martial art” the same day he told Jimmy Fallon that he was in negotiations for a UFC return. Since the Irishman is still in the USADA testing pool, the former champion remains in the rankings.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Chad Mendes (7)

UFC 235 was a showcase for Russian Zabit Magomedsharipov, who topped eighth-ranked Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision. The victory moves Magomedsharipov into the top 10 and up to the No. 7 spot. The UFC’s trip to Philadelphia for UFC on ESPN 2 featured ninth-ranked Josh Emmett, who returned to action after a nasty orbital fracture suffered last year. Emmett needed until the third round, but he scored one of the most violent knockouts of the month over Michael Johnson. ONE Championship’s debut event in Tokyo only made the trilogy between Bibiano Fernandes and Kevin Belingon more intriguing. Fernandes reclaimed the promotion’s “bantamweight” (145-pound) belt after Belingon was disqualified for illegal elbows. The win moves Fernandes back into the top 10, in a tie for 10th. With multiple-time UFC title challenger Chad Mendes hanging up the gloves, he has been removed from the rankings.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Petr Yan (9), John Dodson (10)

March flipped the bantamweight division on its head. Top-ranked T.J. Dillashaw relinquished his UFC title after an adverse test finding by the USADA. However, this was only the beginning. UFC 235 hosted a match-up between former champion Cody Garbrandt and Brazilian Pedro Munhoz. Munhoz knocked out Garbrandt in the first round to rocket himself into the No. 7 spot in the rankings. The stunning defeat results in Garbrandt crashing down to eighth. Another former UFC champion, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, made his ONE Championship debut against Yuya Wakamatsu in the promotion’s “flyweight” (135-pound) grand prix. Mighty Mouse scored a second-round submission win and debuts at No. 5 in the rankings.

  1. Henry Cejudo (1)
  2. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (3)
  3. Sergio Pettis (4)
  4. Joseph Benavidez (5)
  5. Deiveson Figueiredo (7)
  6. John Moraga (8)
  7. Wilson Reis (9)
  8. Dustin Ortiz (10)
  9. Alexandre Pantoja (-)
  10. Brandon Moreno (-)

Dropped from the rankings: Demetrious Johnson (2), Ray Borg (6)

With Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson moving to ONE Championship and to the bantamweight division, the door was open for change in the flyweight division. UFC on ESPN+ 6 in Nashville showcased a pair of top-10 Brazilians in Jussier “Formiga” da Silva and Deiveson Figueiredo. Formiga took care of business and climbs into the second spot. UFC on ESPN 2 featured the return of former title challenger Ray Borg, but the bout was at bantamweight. Borg fell by decision and falls from the flyweight rankings.

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

Dropped from the rankings: Tyron Woodley (8)

The pound-for-pound rankings were impacted by Kamaru Usman’s defeat of Tyron Woodley. Woodley falls from the top 10, and Usman enters at ninth. The shakeup, along with T.J. Dillashaw’s USADA troubles, results in Rose Namajunas moving to eighth.

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.