MMA rankings: Daniel Cormier solidifies his spot atop the heavyweight division

Daniel Cormier
Daniel Cormier
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

A look at The Times’ MMA rankings for November, as compiled by Todd Martin:


1. Daniel Cormier

2. Stipe Miocic


3. Francis Ngannou

4. Vitaly Minakov

5. Curtis Blaydes

6. Derrick Lewis

7. Alexander Volkov

8. Alistair Overeem

9. Junior Dos Santos

10. Tai Tuivasa


Daniel Cormier was dominant and efficient against Derrick Lewis, successfully defending his UFC heavyweight title with a 2nd-round submission at Madison Square Garden. Cormier controlled Lewis with his wrestling before locking in a rear naked choke. In other action, Francis Ngannou rebounded following a pair of tough performances against Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis by knocking out Curtis Blaydes in under a minute. Ngannou possesses as much power as anyone in the sport. Alistair Overeem also picked up a quality win, stopping Sergey Pavlovich with brutal ground and pound.

Light Heavyweight

1. Daniel Cormier

2. Ryan Bader


3. Alexander Gustafsson

4. Ilir Latifi

5. Anthony Smith

6. Volkan Oezdemir


7. Dominick Reyes

8. Phil Davis

9. Glover Teixeira

10. Jimi Manuwa


The light-heavyweight division is a mess right now. Daniel Cormier is the 205-pound champion but he’s currently competing at heavyweight and seems unlikely to return to light heavyweight. Jon Jones is widely viewed as the best inside the Octagon but he rarely competes because of repeated outside the cage problems. The rest of the division is littered with a combination of fighters that possess impressive resumes but bad recent losses and fighters with impressive recent wins but bad losses in the not so distant past. It’s difficult to sort out. Unheralded Vadim Nemkov handed Phil Davis a rough decision loss that looks bad on paper while Anthony Smith submitted Volkan Oezdemir to continue his recent momentum.


1. Robert Whittaker

2. Yoel Romero


3. Gegard Mousasi

4. Luke Rockhold

5. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

6. Kelvin Gastelum


7. Israel Adesanya

8. Chris Weidman

9. Paulo Costa

10. David Branch


Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza picked up a pivotal win, knocking out Chris Weidman in the third round of a competitive bout to reestablish himself as a top middleweight contender. Jacare, soon to 39, needs to lock up a title shot sooner rather than later. Weidman has now dropped four of five, all via KO/TKO. Israel Adesanya scored the most impressive win of his career, blocking Derek Brunson’s takedowns and then picking him apart with strikes for a first round stoppage. Adesanya now will have the opportunity to take on Anderson Silva, a fighter he is frequently compared to.


1. Tyron Woodley

2. Colby Covington


3. Darren Till

4. Stephen Thompson

5. Rory MacDonald

6. Kamaru Usman


7. Rafael Dos Anjos

8. Douglas Lima

9. Santiago Ponzinibbio

10. Robbie Lawler


Santiago Ponzinibbio moves up a spot in the rankings following his knockout win over Neil Magny in his native Argentina. Ponzinibbio has flown under the radar for some time but is due for some big fights in 2019. Michel Prazeres is on the cusp of the top 10 after his eighth straight UFC win. It’s a testament to the strength of the welterweight division that he isn’t there already.


1. Khabib Nurmagomedov

2. Tony Ferguson


3. Conor McGregor

4. Dustin Poirier

5. Kevin Lee

6. Eddie Alvarez


7. Justin Gaethje

8. Edson Barboza

9. James Vick

10. Al Iaquinta


The final UFC card on Fox December 15 will be headlined by a lightweight bout as Kevin Lee looks to avenge a previous loss against Al Iaquinta.


1. Max Holloway

2. Brian Ortega


3. Jose Aldo

4. Frankie Edgar

5. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire

6. Chad Mendes


7. Renato Moicano

8. Mirsad Bektic

9. Alexander Volkanovski

10. Zabit Magomedsharipov


Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire is one of the most underrated fighters in the sport and he improved his record to a sparkling 28-4 with another title defense over Emmanuel Sanchez. However, the most spectacular performance of the month came when Yair Rodriguez knocked out Chan Sung Jung in the final second of a classic main event.


1. T.J. Dillashaw

2. Cody Garbrandt


3. Dominick Cruz

4. Raphael Assuncao

5. Marlon Moraes

6. Jimmie Rivera


7. Aljamain Sterling

8. John Lineker

9. Darrion Caldwell

10 Cody Stamann


Undefeated since 2010, Bibiano Fernandes’ run finally came to an end in One Championship when he dropped a competitive decision to Kevin Belingon. Fernandes during that time went largely unknown despite his elite skills.

Women’s Bantamweight

1. Amanda Nunes

2. Julianna Pena


3. Ketlen Vieira

4. Cat Zingano

5. Aspen Ladd

6. Germaine de Randamie


7. Sarah Kaufman

8. Tonya Evinger

9. Raquel Pennington

10. Marion Reneau


Germaine de Randamie returned to the bantamweight division with a clear unanimous decision victory over Raquel Pennington. Pennington mostly just instigated clinches, making it a dull spectator fight.


1. Henry Cejudo

2. Demetrious Johnson


3. Kyoji Horiguchi

4. Jussier Formiga

5. Sergio Pettis

6. Joseph Benavidez


7. Ray Borg

8. Deiveson Figueiredo

9. Alexandre Pantoja

10. Wilson Reis


Things are looking grim for the flyweight division. The UFC reached an agreement to release longtime champion Demetrious Johnson from his contract and allow him to sign with One Championship. UFC then began releasing flyweight fighters. The expectation is the best flyweights in the UFC will be moved up to bantamweight and the division will be dissolved. The division was never able to generate public interest.

Women’s Strawweight

1. Rose Namajunas

2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk


3. Jessica Andrade

4. Claudia Gadelha

5. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

6. Tatiana Suarez


7. Livia Renata Souza

8. Tecia Torres

9. Carla Esparza

10. Cynthia Calvillo


An already deep strawweight division is getting even better with an infusion of fresh talent. Cynthia Calvillo cracks the top 10 with an impressive submission of Poliana Botelho. Zhang Weili from China looks like a player after her decisive submission win over Jessica Aguilar. Meanwhile, Maycee Barber is at an earlier stage of her development as a fighter but she looks like a potential star as well.