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Times’ MMA rankings: Alexander Volkov leaps up the heavyweight list

The Times’ MMA rankings for March, as compiled by Todd Martin.

Heavyweight

1. Stipe Miocic

2. Francis Ngannou

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3. Alistair Overeem

4. Alexander Volkov

5. Fabricio Werdum

6. Cain Velasquez

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7. Junior Dos Santos

8. Vitaly Minakov

9. Matt Mitrione

10. Derrick Lewis

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Alexander Volkov leaps up the rankings with the biggest win of his career, a fourth round knockout of former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. Volkov is a quality young fighter and should be a force in the division for years to come assuming his level of activity doesn’t catch up with him (Volkov has more professional bouts than most top heavyweights despite being one of the youngest in age).

Light Heavyweight

1. Daniel Cormier

2. Alexander Gustafsson

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3. Ryan Bader

4. Phil Davis

5. Glover Teixeira

6. Volkan Oezdemir

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7. Ilir Latifi

8. Misha Cirkunov

9. King Mo Lawal

10. Nikita Krylov

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Ilir Latifi breaks into the top ten with a spectacular victory over perennial contender Ovince St. Preux. The stocky powerhouse Latifi rocked St. Preux with punches and then choked him out with a standing guillotine. With five wins in his last six fights, Latifi is emerging as a contender. Jimi Manuwa falls out of the top ten following his second straight loss, this time via unanimous decision to Jan Blachowicz in an exciting fight.

Middleweight

1. Robert Whittaker

2. Yoel Romero

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3. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

4. Gegard Mousasi

5. Luke Rockhold

6. Chris Weidman

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7. Kelvin Gastelum

8. Michael Bisping

9. David Branch

10. Derek Brunson

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The biggest middleweight bout of the next month will take place in Atlantic City when David Branch fights powerhouse Thiago Santos in an important fight with both men looking to take on the division’s marquee names.

Welterweight

1. Tyron Woodley

2. Stephen Thompson

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3. Rafael Dos Anjos

4. Robbie Lawler

5. Rory MacDonald

6. Douglas Lima

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7. Colby Covington

8. Demian Maia

9. Darren Till

10. Santiago Ponzinibbio

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Like the middleweight division, there haven’t been a lot of important recent fights at welterweight. A fun bout is on tap in Glendale when Matt Brown and Carlos Condit square off in a showdown of action fighters with high quality striking.

Lightweight

1. Conor McGregor

2. Tony Ferguson

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3. Khabib Nurmagomedov

4. Eddie Alvarez

5. Justin Gaethje

6. Edson Barboza

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7. Kevin Lee

8. Dustin Poirier

9. Michael Chiesa

10. James Vick

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Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov headline UFC 223 in a highly anticipated lightweight showdown. Ferguson’s striking and submissions could pose problems for Nurmagomedov but the Russian’s mauling takedown style is dangerous for any foe. Alexander Hernandez made his UFC debut in style, knocking out the skilled Beneil Dariush in short order. Few fighters start out their UFC careers on such a high note.

Featherweight

1. Max Holloway

2. Brian Ortega

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3. Jose Aldo

4. Frankie Edgar

5. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire

6. Ricardo Lamas

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7. Cub Swanson

8. Chan Sung Jung

9. Darren Elkins

10. Jeremy Stephens

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Brian Ortega continued his rapid ascent up the ranks with a shocking knockout of iron chinned former champion Frankie Edgar. Ortega has now emphatically earned a title shot against UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, a bout that will hopefully take place sooner rather than later. In other action, Jeremy Stephens cracks the top 10 with a knockout of Josh Emmett.

Bantamweight

1. T.J. Dillashaw

2. Cody Garbrandt

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3. Dominick Cruz

4. Raphael Assuncao

5. Marlon Moraes

6. Jimmie Rivera

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7. Bibiano Fernandes

8. Darrion Caldwell

9. John Lineker

10. Cody Stamann

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It was a busy month at bantamweight with a number of significant fights. Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell successfully defended his title with a quick submission of Leandro Higo. John Dodson picked up a close decision over Pedro Munhoz to keep himself on the fringe of contender status. Cody Stamann scored his third UFC victory over Bryan Caraway. Finally, Brian Kelleher handed former champion Renan Barao his fourth loss in five fights.

Women’s Bantamweight

1. Amanda Nunes

2. Julianna Pena

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3. Ketlen Vieira

4. Raquel Pennington

5. Sarah Kaufman

6. Cat Zingano

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7. Marion Reneau

8. Sara McMann

9. Katlyn Chookagian

10. Aspen Ladd

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Ketlen Vieira appears close to a title shot after her dubious split decision win (Vieira won handily) over Cat Zingano. The undefeated Vieira won’t be setting any buy rate records for that contest but there are few other obvious contenders after Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington square off. Marion Reneau scored an important win over Sara McMann via triangle choke submission.

Flyweight

1. Demetrious Johnson

2. Joseph Benavidez

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3. Henry Cejudo

4. Kyoji Horiguchi

5. Jussier Formiga

6. Sergio Pettis

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7. Ray Borg

8. Wilson Reis

9. Brandon Moreno

10. John Moraga

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Ray Borg and Brandon Moreno will compete in Brooklyn April 7 in a battle of 24-year-olds who could be rivals for years to come.

Women’s Strawweight

1. Rose Namajunas

2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

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3. Jessica Andrade

4. Claudia Gadelha

5. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

6. Tecia Torres

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7. Carla Esparza

8. Jessica Aguilar

9. Livia Renata Souza

10. Cynthia Calvillo

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Jessica Andrade picked up her fifth win in six fights over Tecia Torres on Fox. Andrade will now wait for the Rose Namajunas-Joanna Jedrzejczyk rematch with keen interest. If Namajunas wins, Andrade is likely the next challenger. If Jedrzejczyk wins, things are much less clear.


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