Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Quarterly MMA Rankings (April 29, 2015 Edition)

An all-new, less than reverential, semi-regular feature quantifying the best the world of mixed-martial-arts has to offer!

Although I haven't posted a "real" Rocktagon update here in more than a year, I remain a pretty faithful MMA fan. Of course, with so many lackluster shows being shat out as of late, I really haven't found the impetus to make my way out into the world and actually watch a UFC PPV in quite some time. With some fairly stacked, star-studded shows on the docket, though, hopefully this upcoming summer will prove more 2010-ish than 2014-ish.

Seeing as how every half-hearted sports website in the world has their own recurring divisional MMA rankings, I decided what the hey! I have more than enough experience with the wacky, whimsical world of mixed martial arts to publish my own damn rankings, which from here on out, will be a quarterly "special report" at The Internet Is In America. There's no real specified timeframe for when I plan on running these things, but I will try to put out at least four a year (but for the more anal combat sports fans out there, let's just throw out February, May, August and November as our tentative quarterly report windows.)

And with all of the pretext and pretense out of the way, let's get this countdown rolling, why don't we?

Heavyweight Division

1.) Cain Velasquez  (13-1-0-0)
     Last Bout: Win, vs. Junior dos Santos (October 19, 2013)
     Next Bout: vs. Fabricio Werdum (June 13, 2015)
     Last Five Bouts: 4-1

This one seems like a foregone conclusion if there ever was one. "The Terminator" has looked all but unstoppable thus far into his MMA career, proving his sole UFC loss against Junior dos Santos was a fluke when he stomped "Cigano" into the canvas in two revenge matches. Having flayed Antonio Silva alive twice in the Octagon now, the reigning (and oft-injured) Heavyweight Champion will next defend his strap on June 13, when he faces Brazilian submission wunderkind Fabricio Werdum in Mexico City.

2.) Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1-0)
     Last Bout: Win, vs. Mark Hunt (November 15, 2014)
     Next Bout: vs. Cain Velasquez (June 13, 2015)
     Last Five Bouts: 5-0

The current UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion was set to to tussle with Velasquez late last year, but an injury instead put Werdum up against Mark Hunt for a placeholder belt. Having not lost a bout since summer 2011, Werdum looks to pull off yet another monumental upset in a few weeks, when he takes on the defending UFC Heavyweight Champion in a Mexico City title unifier. The match-up will be the first for Velasquez in 20 months ... and it's scheduled almost five years to the day that his opponent shocked the MMA world by submitting Fedor Emelinenko.

3.) Junior dos Santos (17-3-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Stipe Micoic (December 13, 2014)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

In every sense of the word, dos Santos is a bad motherfucker. Having only dropped two bouts thus far into his UFC career (both being one-handed losses to current strap-bearer Velasquez), dos Santos remains a perennial title contender, thanks in no small part to Zuffa's relatively thin heavyweight division. Following an impressive beatdown of Stipe Miocic late last year, dos Santos is still awaiting word on his next foe. Needless to say, all he needs is probably one more "W" before he is once again catapulted into a championship bout. 

4.) Andrei Arlovski (23-10-0-1)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Antonio Silva (September 13, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Travis Browne (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

The Pit Bull's shocking comeback is further proof that you can never really count anybody out in the world of MMA. Undefeated since making his return to the UFC last year, Arlovski hasn't lost a bout since 2013 (to, of all people, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson) and hasn't been finished in a fight since 2011. After stopping Antonio Silva last fall, Arlovski sets his sights on Travis Browne at UFC 186 -- expect a W in that bout to put him in a Heavyweight Championship eliminator before year's end.

5.) Travis Browne (17-2-1-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Brendan Schaub (December 6, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Andrei Arlovski (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

For a time, at least, it seemed like Travis Browne was destined to be the Great White...err, Hawaiian...Hope for the UFC Heavyweight Division. After rattling off three consecutive first round knockouts of Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett, it seemed like a title shot was all but guaranteed for Oahu native. Then, he put in an abysmal performance against Fabricio Werdum, which guaranteed it would be quite a while before he ever got a sniff of UFC gold. Alas, Browne did rebound with a nice KO victory against Brendan Schuab; he gets an opportunity to continue along the road to redemption when he faces a resurgent Andrei Arlovski at UFC 186. 

6.) Vitaly Minakov (14-0-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Cheick Kongo (April 4, 2014)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

The former four-time Sambo world champion and current Bellator Heavyweight champ is arguably the best heavyweight fighter on the planet not currently signed to a Zuffa contract. Undefeated since going pro in 2010, the 30-year-old Russian still has plenty of time left to carve out an even greater legacy for himself in the sport. While he didn't exactly put on a stellar showing in his last title defense, there is no denying that he's a force to be reckoned with ... after all, it was his first fight in the company thus far where he didn't end up punching someone unconscious.

7.) Ben Rothwell (34-9-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Alistair Overeem (September 5, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Matt Mitrione (June 6, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

The IFL graduate has had something of a career resurgence as of-late. After getting choked out by Gabriel Gonzaga in Brazil two years ago, "Big Ben" has won two consecutive matches via TKO, chalking up impressive finishes of both Brandon Vera and Alistair Overeem. He will have an opportunity to potentially put himself in the running as one of the UFC's top five heavyweights in early June, when he goes toe-to-toe with Matt Mitrione. 

8.) Stipe Miocic (12-2-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Junior dos Santos (December 13, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Mark Hunt (May 10, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

Even in losing to Junior dos Santos late last year, the UFC's other Croatian heavyweight looked pretty damn good, taking "Cigano" a full 25 minutes in what was easily one of the best main events of 2014. Outside of that loss and a 2012 bruising at the hands of Stefan Struve, Mioci has had a sterling record in the UFC, going 6-2 since joining the promotion in 2011. He gets a chance to climb up the rankings when he does battle with grizzled vet Mark Hunt on May 10.

9.) Alexey Oleinik (50-9-1-0
Last Bout: Win, vs. Jared Rosholt (November 22, 2014)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

While there are some heavyweight prospects outside of the UFC with arguably more potential -- Marcin Tybura, Tony Johnson and Denis Goltsov immediately come to mind -- there probably isn't a ZUFFA-contracted fighter within the division with as much upswing right now as Oleinik. The 37-year-old Sambo specialist is currently riding a 12 fight win-streak, having finished Anthony Hamilton and Jared Rosholt in the first round of his last two bouts.

10.) Matt Mitrione (9-3-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (December 13, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Ben Rothwell (June 6, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

Riding a three-fight win streak (all first-round finishes, by the way), Mitrione definitely had one hell of a 2014. Despite some ugly losses to the likes of Brendan Schaub and Roy Nelson over the years, Mitrione definitely has a lot of unburned potential. His next opportunity to prove his meddle comes early this summer, when he tangles with Ben Rothwell. 

Light Heavyweight Division

1.) Jon Jones (21-1-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Daniel Cormier (January 3, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Anthony Johnson (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

OK, it's WAY too easy to make a joke about cocaine here, but the fact of the matter is, on crack or off, Jon Jones is probably the most dominant fighter on the planet right now. After overcoming Lyoto Machida's counter-punching, solving Alexander Gustafsson's troublesome range and actually outwrestling Daniel Cormier, I'm not quite sure how anyone is going to defeat him. Will Rumble's relentless, in-your-face close-range attack be the approach that finally upends "Bones?" Looks like we're just going to have to wait until  Memorial Day to find out (that, is, unless he winds up in the pokey for his latest escapades in Albuquerque before then, anyway.) 

2.) Anthony Johnson (19-4-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Alexander Gustafsson (January 24, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Jon Jones (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

In a sport known for out-of-nowhere comebacks, Johnson's unexpected career resurgence has to be among the most surprising in MMA history. After languishing as a welterweight for several years (hard to believe it, but he actually dropped bouts to the likes of Rich Clementi), he wound up hitting the indie circuit, alternating bouts as a heavyweight and light heavyweight. Since being called back up to the UFC in 2014, Johnson has looked absolutely incredible, wrecking Phil Davis, Lil' Nog and Alexander Gustafsson. On May 23, he gets the chance of a lifetime, as he does battle with longtime Light Heavyweight strap holder Jon Jones. The question is, can Rumble's inside, aggressive striking strategy work against someone with the daunting range -- and impeccable defensive jabbing -- of Jones?

3.) Daniel Cormier (15-1-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Jon Jones (January 3, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Ryan Bader (June 6, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

For the first time in his career, world champion wrestler Cormier tasted defeat when his ground-and-pound strategy proved ineffective against Jon Jones in January. Even with that one-loss blemish on hsi record, there is no denying that Cormier is a top-tier 205-pounder. With a victory over Ryan Bader in a few weeks, he very well could be seeing himself in another championship bout by year's end.

4.) Alexander Gustafsson (16-3)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Anthony Johnson (January 24, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Glover Teixeira (June 20, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

The home-country advantage didn't do much for the lanky Swede, who got steamrolled earlier this year by Anthony Johnson. With a rematch against Jon Jones seemingly off the table for quite awhile, the Ryan Gosling-lookalike will have to climb his way back up the divisional rungs. His first step on the path to redemption? A bout against ferocious Brazilian striker Glover Teixeira in late June.

5.) Ryan Bader (19-4-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Phil Davis (January 24, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Daniel Cormier (June 6, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

Although his wins haven't exactly been the most dominant in the world, Bader's ongoing four-fight victory streak is nonetheless noteworthy. After dismantinling Phil Davis in Stockholm, Bader gets to go one-on-one with Olympic-caliber grappler Daniel Cormier -- needless to say, a victory there would most definitely raise the stock of "Darth Bader," and considerably.

6.) Phil Davis (13-3-0-1)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Ryan Bader (Jauary 24, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

When "Mr. Wonderful" has looked good in the Octagon, he has looked terrific. However, despite some impressive performances over the years, when Davis gets beat, he tends to get beaten horrifically, as was the case in his bouts against Ryan Bader and Anthony Johnson. Recently abandoning Planet UFC for the greener pastures of Bellator, Davis has a pedigree worthy of an instant title-shot; as to which Davis we will see when he makes his company debut, however, is anybody's guess.

7.) Liam McGeary (10-0-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Emanuel Newton (February 27, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

The undefeated Brit scored an impressive upset over Emanual Newton to claim the Bellator Light Heavyweight championship in February. A skilled striker and submission artist, the 32-year-old possesses all of the tools needed to have a long, prosperous career in the sport. With Bellator's paper-thin division, however, you really have to wonder how long it will be before McGeary starts thinking about testing the waters at ZUFFA -- and if he truly has what it takes to go mano-e-mano against some of the UFC's heaviest lightweight hitters.

8.) Quinton Jackson (36-11-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Fabio Maldonado (April 25, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

With his crushing defeat of Fabio Maldonado at UFC 186, the returning Rampage is currently riding a four-fight winning streak. Alas, it's pretty easy to be suspicious about the 36-year-old's long-term viability within the division. Then again, as the startling second-wind success of fighters like Anthony Johnson and Andrei Arlovski have demonstrated, it may not be the wisest idea to count Jackson out this early into his second UFC tour of duty.

9.) Ovince St. Preux (18-6-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Patrick Cummins (April 18, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

With the exception of a decision loss to Ryan Bader last August, OSP has looked pretty damn good inside the Octagon, chalking up some impressive victories over the likes of Shogun Rua, Ryan Jimmo and Nikita Krylov. While the Strikeforce import definitely has some holes in the game, he is clearly becoming a more complete fighter. Give this guy a couple of more wins, and in a year or two, he actually could be a title contender.

10.) Glover Teixeira (22-4-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Phil Davis (October 25, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Alexander Gustafsson (June 20, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

For quite some time, the Brazilian striker looked all but unstoppable. Then, he ran headlong into Jon Jones, and frankly, he hasn't been the same fighter since. Following that lackluster performance with an even less respectable showing against Ryan Bader, "Tex" definitely needs a win in the worst way to regain his one shiny reputation. That's going to be a tall order ... literally ... since his next scheduled foe is a super-pissed Alexander Gustafsson, who will no doubt look to make short work of Glover to get himself back in title contention.

Middleweight Division

1.) Chris Weidman (12-0-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Lyoto Machida (July 05, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Vitor Belfort (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

Although Weidman had some trouble against Machida in his last title defense, the Middleweight Champion is undeniably a well-versed and well-rounded grappler and striker ... I mean, the dude DID knock off Anderson Silva twice, after all. At UFC 187, he defends his belt for the first time in close to a year against Vitor Belfort. a dreaded veteran known for his flashy striking finishes (and also, failing more steroid tests than Chael Sonnen and Josh Barnett combined.) As one of the most versatile fighters in all of MMA, Weidman will certainly look to mix things up offensively and defensively against his Brazilian adversary ... or at least pray really hard that the NSAC does a thorough job of examining the post-fight urine samples.

2.) Vitor Belfort (24-10-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Dan Henderson (November 9, 2013)
Next Bout: vs. Chris Weidman (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

Every time "The Phenom" fights, oddsmakers chalk up two different sets of wagers in their books; one whether or not he will win his latest fight, and another whether or not the outcome of said bout will be overturned because of elevated testosterone levels. With a May showdown against current Middleweight title holder Chris Weidman slowly creeping up, Vitor has an opportunity to once again wrap UFC gold across his waist -- an absolutely astonishing prospect, considering he made his company debut during the Clinton Administration.

3.) Luke Rockhold (14-2)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Lyoto Machida (April 18, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

Don't look now, but the Strikeforce import has finished off four opponents in a row since getting his head kicked off by current number one contender Vitor Belfort in 2013. As evident by his submission victories over Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping, Rockhold is no doubt a threat on the ground, and as apparent by his body kick finish of middleweight pretender Costas Philippou, the dude knows how to murder-death-kill people standing, too. As impressive as his last victory was, it wouldn't be all that surprising if he wound up challenging the victor of Weidman/Belfort later this year for UFC gold.

4.) Ronaldo Souza (22-3-0-1)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Chris Camozzi
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

As one of the best BJJ artists in the world of MMA (hooray for acronyms!) "Jacare's" climb towards UFC middleweight contender-hood hasn't been the easiest row to hoe. Currently riding an EIGHT-FIGHT win streak, Souza has somehow been overlooked for an eliminator bout for close to two years now. How awesome would it be if he finally got that "next-in-line-to-be-the-next-in-line" match-up against Luke Rockhold -- the very last fighter to best him in battle?

5.) Anderson Silva (34-6-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Nick Diaz (January 31, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

Following a year-long layoff due to that horrendous leg injury in late 2013, "The Spider" certainly looked like his old self when he outpointed Nate "My Anti-Drug" Diaz earlier this year. Unfortunately for Silva, he did so while apparently on the 'roids, which for some reason, is the kind of thing athletic commissions across North America tend to frown upon. While it may be a while before he is legally cleared to fight in the Octagon again, there's no denying that a fighter with his pedigree nonetheless deserves a spot in the top five middleweight rankings.

6.) Yoel Romero (9-1-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Tim Kennedy (September 27, 2014)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

The Afro-Cuban Strikeforce alum has quietly made his way up the UFC's middleweight rungs, winning five consecutive fights since joining the organization in 2013. His knockout performance against Tim Kennedy last September was a big wake-up call to the rest of the division -- the self-professed "Soldier of God" is more than capable of beating the holy hell out of many an unfortunate soul who steps inside the Octagon.

7.) Thales Leites (25-4-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Tim Boetsch (January 31, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

While Leites will probably forever be known as the dude who tried to Fred Ettish his way out of a title fight against Anderson Silva, the 33-year-old Brazilian has had a rather remarkable -- if not completely unheralded -- comeback, winning eight pro fights in a row dating back to 2010. Undefeated since returning to the UFC in 2013, he has chalked up some rather impressive victories over the likes of Francis Carmont and Tim Boetsch. It's pretty hard to not see him in the title contention fray if he puts up two or three more victories -- something I NEVER thought I would say following that match from 2009.

8.) Mamed Khalidov (30-4-2-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Brett Cooper (December 6, 2014)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

The 34-year-old Chechen brawler is unquestionably the best 185-pound fighter on the planet not currently under a ZUFFA contract. Riding high on a 10-fight win streak (which includes finishes of Melvin Manheof, Matt Lindland and James Irvin), the "Cannibal" is definitely a threat whether he's vertical or horizontal. The big question, of course, is whether or not he feels the need to test himself outside of the Polish circuit -- needless to say, he would make for a great addition to the UFC's already packed middleweight division.

9.) Tim Kennedy (18-5-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Yoel Romero (September 27, 2014)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

The former U.S. military man was on a four-fight winning streak up until he clashed with Yoel Romero. While his next fight hasn't been solidified, Kennedy will no doubt by eyeing a top-ranked opponent to gain back a little of the luster he lost last September. A solid striker and submission artist, he's every bit the fighter Brian Stann wished he could have been.

10.) Kelvin Gastelum (11-1-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Tyron Woodley (January 31, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Nate Marquardt (June 13, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

Despite being named after a unit of measurement, the 23-year-old fighter is no joke. Although he may have dropped his last bout against Tyron Woodley, he was a sterling 10-0 in his previous fights, which included some impressive performances against the likes of Jake Ellenberger and Uriah Hall. The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner now looks to test the waters of the UFC's middleweight division, with 185-pound veteran Nate Marquardt serving as his first post-welterweight adversary.

Welterweight Division

1.) Robbie Lawler (25-10-0-1)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Johny Hendricks (December 6, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Rory MacDonald (July 11, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

Having made his UFC debut in 2002, Lawler was the definition of a journeyman fighter. After spending a decade bouncing from promotion to promotion, he resigned with ZUFFA in 2012, earning impressive victories over Rory MacDonald, Matt Brown and Jake Ellenberger en route to his split decision, belt-clinching performance against Johny Hendricks last December. A tenacious fighter, Lawler is known for keeping a relentless pace ... something the man next in line to do battle with him is well aware of.

2.) Rory MacDonald (18-2-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Tarec Saffiedine (October 4, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Robbie Lawler (July 11, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

As soon as he joined the UFC, many analysts had MacDonald pegged as the heir apparent to Georges St. Pierre. Having gone 7-2 since joining the promotion, the Canadian standout has had few disappointments inside the Octagon. Later this summer, he gets a chance to avenge one of those losses, when he battles current Welterweight champ Robbie Lawler for a second tilt at UFC 189.

3.) Johny Hendricks (16-3-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Matt Brown (March 14, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

After being screwed out outpointed of the Welterweight championship in a 2013 battle against GSP, "Big Rigg" achieved some level of vindication when he bested Robbie Lawler for the vacated 170-pound championship last year. Unfortunately for the rough and tough Texan, the good times only lasted a few months, as he would drop the belt to Lawler in a rematch later that year. After an impressive showing against Matt Brown, one has to assume that Hendricks isn't that far removed from a title eliminator belt ... or perhaps even another crack at UFC gold.

4.) Tyron Woodley (15-3-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Kelvin Gastelum (January 31, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

The second most famous person to hail from Ferguson, Mo., Woodley has had a fairly inconsistent run in the UFC. That said, despite some pretty ugly losses to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald, he has shined quite a bit in his last two outings, knocking out Dong Hyun Kim and outpointing an overweight Kelvin Gastelum. If he can chalk up two or three more quality W's, it's hard to not see him challenging for the 170-pound title this time next year.

5.) Hector Lombard (34-4-2-0)
Last Bout: No Contest, vs. Josh Burkman (January 3, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 3-2-0-1

Having never been finished, the Cuban striker has applied his craft all over the world, knocking dudes out in PRIDE, EliteXC,Bellator and the UFC. While he has had some questionable losses under the ZUFFA banner, he has also looked pretty damn stellar in fights against Rosimar Palhares and Jake Shields. Alas, after pissing positive for steroids after his last bout, it looks like it will be quite some time before we see Lombard do his thing inside the Octagon.

6.) Ben Askren (15-0-0-1)
Last Bout: No Contest, vs. Luis Santos (April 24, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 4-0-0-1

The undefeated wrestler is one of the most accomplished to ever compete in MMA, having won a multitude of NCAA, USA Wrestling and International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles championships, in addition to a number of submission grappling trophies, too. The longtime Bellator Welterweight champ jumped ship to ONE FC last year; as quite possibly the best non-ZUFFA-employed fighter in all of MMA, you really have to wonder why Dana and company haven't already inked him to a multi-fight UFC deal by now.

7.) Ben Henderson (22-5-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Brandon Thatch (February 14, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

The WEC Lightweight Champion turned  UFC Lightweight Champion recently jumped up a weight class, looking pretty damned good against Brandon Thatch in his 170-pound debut. Whether or not Bendo can hang with the top-tier fighters in the division remains to be seen, but considering his past successes outside of the division, it would be ill-advised to disregard him as a future contender.

8.) Matt Brown (19-13-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Johny Hendricks (March 14, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Nate Diaz (July 11, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

An ex-junkie who earned his nickname "The Immortal" after surviving a heroin overdose, the former smack addict is now routinely laying the smack down on his opponents in the UFC. Despite dropping his last two bouts (against the last two UFC Welterweight champions, it is worth noting), Brown looks to get back to his winning ways when he wages ware against Nate Diaz later this summer.

9.) Douglas Lima (26-5-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Rick Hawn (April 18, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Andrey Koreshkov (July 17, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

Having lost just one fight since 2010 (to Ben Askren), the current Bellator Welterweight Champion is definitely a solid all-around fighter, with some of the heaviest hands in any 170-pound division. He next does battle with Andrey Koreshkov in July; with a dearth of talented competitors in his current company, will he eventually seek out greater challenges in the Octagon?

10.) Rousimar Palhares (17-6-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Jon Fitch (December 13, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Jake Shields (August 1, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 3-2

Although Palhares' batshit crazy antics inside the cage have, at times, reached almost Paulo Filho-like levels, the ferocious BJJ fighter is definitely a dude you don't want to mess with. Then again, would you really expect anything less out of a fighter whose nickname translates to "Little Tree Stump?" The World Series of Fighting Welterweight Champ will defend the strap against Jake Shields in August, a bout which pits one of the most entertaining fighters on the planet up against...well, Jake Shields.

Lightweight Division

1.) Rafael dos Anjos (24-7-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Anthony Pettis (March 14, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

Dos Anjos' victory over Anthony Pettis earlier this year was one of the biggest upsets we've seen in MMA in quite awhile. Then again, dos Anjos has put up a rather impressive resume, scoring impressive wins over Ben Henderson, Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone en route to his Lightweight belt-earning performance. An extraordinarily talented BJJ grappler with heavy hands, he's definitely equipped with all the tools needed for a long championship reign.

2.) Anthony Pettis (18-3-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Rafael dos Anjos (March 14, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Myles Jury (July 25, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

He may have stumbled in his last bout, but that was a rare sour note for what has otherwise been a brilliant ZUFFA career. Having subbed Benson and Gilbert Melendez and knocked out Cerrone and Lauzon, he's throttled among the best the 155-pound division has to offer. Unless dos Anjos literally knocked the effort out of him, expect Pettis to climb back into title contention much sooner rather than later.

3.) Donald Cerrone (27-6-0-1)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Ben Henderson (January 18, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

An absolute workhorse, Cerrone is known for fighting his heart out every time he steps inside the cage. So far this year, he's already defeated Ben Henderson and Myles Jury -- over the span of 15 days, no less. "Cowboy" receives a much-deserved title-eliminator bout at UFC 187, where he will face suplex virtuoso Khabib Nurmagomedov to determine Rafael dos Anjos' next championship challenger.

4.) Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Rafael dos Anjos (April 19, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Donald Cerrone (May 23, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

The undefeated Russian wunderkind wants a piece of Rafael dos Anjos; after all, Khabib has already bested him once in the Octagon. The gifted submission specialist -- who can also knock a dude out as well as toss him around the cage like a ragdoll -- faces a stiff, stiff challenge in the form of Donald Cerrone next, in a May contest that has "fight of the year" written all over it.

5.) Will Brooks (16-1-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Dave Jensen (April 10, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

Having lost just one bout his entire career (interestingly enough, to some no-name called Saad Awad), Brooks has bested top-ranked Bellator lightweight Michael Chandler twice now, in addition to taking out challengers such as Dave Jensen and Alexander Sarnavskly. Seeing as how the competition in Bellator is a bit sparse, is it only a matter of time until the 29-year-old gives the UFC the old collegiate try?

6.) Gilbert Melendez (22-4-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Anthony Pettis (December 6, 2014)
Next Bout: vs. Eddie Alvarez (June 13, 2015)
Last Five Bouts:3-2

For years, Melendez was considered one of the top lightweight fighters on the planet, even heralded by some as the absolute best on the planet. Alas, things haven't exactly gone swimmingly for "El Nino" since he signed with the UFC, having gone 2-1 since 2013. He gets a chance to add another "W" to his record at UFC 188, when he does battle with Eddie Alvarez in Mexico City.

7.) Michael Johnson (16-8-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Edson Barboza (February 22, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD
Last Five Bouts: (4-1)

Riding a four-fight win streak, Johnson has knocked off several 155-pound veterans, among them Edson Barboza and Gleison Tibau. The 28-year-old still has plenty of years ahead of him; expect his stock to rise considerably by the time 2016 rolls around.

8.) Al Iaquinta (12-3-1-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Jorge Masvidal (April 4, 2015)
Next Bout: TBD.
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

With wins over Jorge Mavidal, Joe Lauzon and Ross Pearson, the New York native and Matt Serra prodigy is on a four fight winning streak. Expect him to become a much, much bigger name in the division over the next few months.

9.) Tony Ferguson (18-3-0-0)
Last Bout: Win, vs. Gleison Tibau (February 28, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Josh Thomson (July 15, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 5-0

"El Cucuy" is on a five fight tear, with quality wins over Gleison Tibau, Abel Trujillo and Danny Castillo. He meets Josh Thomson in San Diego this July, in what should be, if nothing else, a fun little striking showcase.

10.) Myles Jury (15-1-0-0)
Last Bout: Loss, vs. Donald Cerrone (January 3, 2015)
Next Bout: vs. Anthony Pettis (July 25, 2015)
Last Five Bouts: 4-1

"The Fury" experienced his first loss as a pro MMA fighter in January, when he gave up a decision victory to Donald Cerrone. With previous wins over Michale Johnson, Diego Sanchez and Takanori Gomi, however, Jury still has plenty to boast about; he faces his greatest challenge to date in July, when he is set to tussle with former WEC and UFC Lightweight Champ Anthony Pettis.

...and the rest of the rankings...

Featherweight Division

1.) Jose Aldo (25-10-1-0)
2.) Conor McGregor (17-2-0-0)
3.) Chad Mendes (17-2-0-0)
4.) Patricio Freire (23-2-0-0)
5.) Max Holloway (13-3-0-0)

Bantamweight Division (Male)

1.) T.J. Dillashaw (12-2-0-0)
2.) Renan Baroa (35-2-0-0)
3.) Urijah Faber (32-7-0-0)
4.) Frankie Edgar (17-4-1-0)
5.) Dominick Cruz (20-1-0-0)

Bantamweight Division (Female)

1.) Ronda Rousey (11-0-0-0)
2.) Alexis Davis (16-6-0-0)
3.) Bethe Correia (9-0-0-0)
4.) Miesha Tate (16-5-0-0)
5.) Cat Zingano (9-1-0-0-0)

Flyweight Division

1.) Demetrious Johnson (21-2-1-0)
2.) Joseph Benavidez (21-4-0-0)
3.) Jussier da Silva (17-3-0-0)
4.) John Dodson (17-6-0-0)
5.) Zach Makovsky (19-5-0-0)

Strawweight Division (Female)

1.) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (9-0-0-0)
2.) Jessica Aguilar (19-4-0-0)
3.) Livia Renata Souza (8-0-0-0)
4.) Carla Esparza (11-3-0-0)
5.) Claudia Gadelha (12-1-0-0)


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