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MMA rankings: Jon Jones proves he is still quite a draw

MMA rankings: Jon Jones proves he is still quite a draw
Jon Jones (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

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

Heavyweight

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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. Alexey Oleynik

Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix wraps up Saturday night at the Forum with Bellator light-heavyweight champion Ryan Bader taking on all-time legend Fedor Emelianenko. It could be a rough night for the 42-year-old Emelianenko who hasn’t fought much against prime elite competition in recent years. Another big heavyweight fight in the next month is the February 17 bout pitting Francis Ngannou against Cain Velasquez in a battle of top heavyweight contenders.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Ryan Bader

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3. Anthony Smith

4. Alexander Gustafsson

5. Corey Anderson

6. Ilir Latifi

7. Volkan Oezdemir

8. Dominick Reyes

9. Thiago Santos

10. Glover Teixeira

Jon Jones returned to the top position at 205 pounds, beating Alexander Gustafsson via TKO to win back the UFC light-heavyweight title. The fight drew a shockingly high pay-per-view buy rate, indicating all the controversy hasn’t hurt Jones at the box office. After Jones and Bellator champion Ryan Bader, the division is exceedingly difficult to sort out as pretty much everyone else had significant setbacks not very long ago. Anthony Smith looks to be next in line for a title shot. A couple of other top bouts in the last month included Corey Anderson besting Ilir Latifi by decision and Glover Teixeira submitting Karl Roberson in the first round.

Middleweight

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

It will be a big night for the middleweights February 10 in Australia. Robert Whittaker will defend the UFC middleweight title in the main event against Kelvin Gastelum while rising star Israel Adesanya will battle the legendary Anderson Silva in the co-feature. The winners of those two fights could well compete in the near future as well.

Welterweight

1. Tyron Woodley

2. Colby Covington

3. Kamaru Usman

4. Darren Till

5. Stephen Thompson

6. Rory MacDonald

7. Rafael Dos Anjos

8. Douglas Lima

9. Santiago Ponzinibbio

10. Robbie Lawler

Michael Chiesa looked good moving up to welterweight, submitting Carlos Condit in what was an exciting ground battle. There is no shortage of challenges for Chiesa in his new weight class. At the top is Tyron Woodley, who will defend his title next against Kamaru Usman. Former interim titleholder Colby Covington loudly protested that decision but didn’t generate a lot of sympathy in the court of public opinion with his instigating persona.

Lightweight

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov

2. Tony Ferguson

3. Conor McGregor

4. Dustin Poirier

5. Eddie Alvarez

6. Justin Gaethje

7. Al Iaquinta

8. Kevin Lee

9. Edson Barboza

10. Michael Chandler

It’s tough to break into the top mix at lightweight because the division is just so deep. Gregor Gillespie improved to 6-0 in the UFC and 13-0 overall with his fifth straight finish, a knockout of Yancy Medeiros, but that still isn’t enough to break into the top 10. Meanwhile, former title challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone returned to the division and finished Alexander Hernandez impressively but he’s also on the outside looking in.

Featherweight

1. Max Holloway

2. Brian Ortega

3. Jose Aldo

4. Frankie Edgar

5. Alexander Volkanovski

6. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire

7. Renato Moicano

8. Mirsad Bektic

9. Zabit Magomedsharipov

10. Chad Mendes

Alexander Volkanovski had a glossy record heading into his bout with Chad Mendes at UFC 232 but didn’t have a signature performance to hang his hat on. That changed in a big way as Volkanovski defeated Mendes via TKO in a thrilling bout that improved Volkanovski to 6-0 in the UFC. Volkanovski might not be that far away from a title shot.

Bantamweight

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. Cody Stamann

10. Kyoji Horiguchi

In the top MMA bout of Rizin’s year-end show, Kyoji Horiguchi upset Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell via submission to somewhat mitigate the damage to Rizin in the humiliating defeat of Tenshin Nasukawa to Floyd Mayweather on the same card. Horiguchi has thrived since leaving the UFC in 2016.

Women’s Bantamweight

1. Amanda Nunes

2. Julianna Pena

3. Ketlen Vieira

4. Aspen Ladd

5. Germaine de Randamie

6. Sarah Kaufman

7. Tonya Evinger

8. Raquel Pennington

9. Marion Reneau

10. Sara McMann

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes capped off a remarkable run by adding the UFC women’s featherweight title to her trophy case. In her last five fights, Nunes has defeated former featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino, current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko, former bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and former bantamweight champion Miesha Tate.

Flyweight

1. Henry Cejudo

2. Demetrious Johnson

3. Joseph Benavidez

4. Jussier Formiga

5. Ray Borg

6. Deiveson Figueiredo

7. Alexandre Pantoja

8. Wilson Reis

9. Brandon Moreno

10. John Moraga

Last time out, Henry Cejudo ended the historic run of Demetrious Johnson as UFC flyweight champion. On UFC’s ESPN+ debut, Cejudo had quite an encore as he knocked out bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw in under a minute. Dillashaw and UFC president Dana White strangely ripped the stoppage, which seemed to be a completely justifiable one given the circumstances. Joseph Benavidez was victorious yet again versus Dustin Ortiz, another triumph in what has been an underappreciated career.

Women’s Flyweight

1. Valentina Shevchenko

2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

3. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

4. Nicco Montano

5. Jessica Eye

6. Katlyn Chookagian

7. Alexis Davis

8. Joanne Calderwood

9. Liz Carmouche

10. Sijara Eubanks

Joanne Calderwood improved to 2-0 at flyweight and she looks like she could be a contender in the wide open weight class. Her victory over Ariane Lipski was a complete performance.

Women’s Strawweight

1. Rose Namajunas

2. Jessica Andrade

3. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

4. Tatiana Suarez

5. Livia Renata Souza

6. Nina Ansaroff

7. Claudia Gadelha

8. Tecia Torres

9. Carla Esparza

10. Cynthia Calvillo

It looks like fans will have to wait quite a while longer before they get to see the title fight between Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade as that bout is targeted for May in Brazil. Andrade has looked extremely dangerous in recent fights and poses a substantial challenge for the champion who dethroned longtime queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

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