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MMA Rankings: Israel Adesanya wins a fight for the ages

Kelvin Gastelum and Israel Adesanya fight during a middleweight mixed martial arts bout at UFC 236 i
Kelvin Gastelum, left, and Israel Adesanya fight.
(Michael Zarrilli / AP)

The Times’ MMA rankings for May, as compiled by Todd Martin:

Heavyweight

1. Daniel Cormier

2. Stipe Miocic

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3. Francis Ngannou

4. Junior Dos Santos

5. Curtis Blaydes

6. Alistair Overeem

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7. Derrick Lewis

8. Alexander Volkov

9. Cain Velasquez

10. Ryan Bader

The UFC heavyweight title picture is pretty neatly sorted out for the time being. Daniel Cormier will meet top contender Stipe Miocic for the title while the next two challengers Francis Ngannou and Junior Dos Santos will square off for potentially the next shot. Curtis Blaydes rebounded from a loss to Ngannou by defeating Justin Willis in a one-sided decision. Meanwhile, Alistair Overeem finished former training partner Alexey Oleynik via TKO.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Ryan Bader

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3. Alexander Gustafsson

4. Thiago Santos

5. Dominick Reyes

6. Corey Anderson

7. Glover Teixeira

8. Ilir Latifi

9. Johnny Walker

10. Anthony Smith

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Glover Teixeira continued his winning ways, submitting Ion Cutelaba in Florida. At 39, Teixeira hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. The depth of the light-heavyweight division has improved in the last year and there are some high quality fighters on the outside of the top 10 looking in. Nikita Krylov submitted Ovince St. Preux and has won 10 of 12, all by finish. Phil Davis, on the other hand, bested Liam McGeary via TKO.

Middleweight

1. Robert Whittaker

2. Israel Adesanya

3. Yoel Romero

4. Gegard Mousasi

5. Luke Rockhold

6. Kelvin Gastelum

7. Jack Hermansson

8. Chris Weidman

9. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

10. Paulo Costa

In one of the greatest fights in the history of the sport, Israel Adesanya dominated in the fifth round to pull away from Kelvin Gastelum in an interim middleweight title bout. Now, it will be an all Oceania title showdown as Adesanya meets Robert Whittaker for the top spot in the middleweight division. Jack Hermansson breaks into the top 10 as he followed up a quick submission win over David Branch with a decision win over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

Welterweight

1. Kamaru Usman

2. Tyron Woodley

3. Colby Covington

4. Ben Askren

5. Rafael Dos Anjos

6. Rory MacDonald

7. Douglas Lima

8. Stephen Thompson

9. Jorge Masvidal

10. Santiago Ponzinibbio

The welterweight division is a messy one to sort out because many of the more established fighters have looked significantly diminished in recent fights but still have resumes that look better on paper than rising fighters who appear to be competing on a higher level now. Take for example Rory MacDonald, who readily admitted he wasn’t sure about his fighting future after a majority draw against Jon Fitch, or Stephen Thompson who was knocked out cold by Anthony Pettis. Rafael Dos Anjos submitted Kevin Lee in Lee’s welterweight debut while Douglas Lima pulled off a spectacular knockout to hand Michael “Venom” Page his first MMA loss.

Lightweight

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov

2. Tony Ferguson

3. Dustin Poirier

4. Justin Gaethje

5. Donald Cerrone

6. Conor McGregor

7. Al Iaquinta

8. Edson Barboza

9. Gregor Gillespie

10. Charles Oliveira

Dustin Poirier was crowned UFC interim lightweight champion following an impressive decision win over UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and now Poirier will take on Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight title. In line for an upcoming shot is Justin Gaethje, who turned in a spectacular performance yet again in knocking out Edson Barboza. Donald Cerrone brutalized Al Iaquinta in a one-sided unanimous decision to show he’s still an elite lightweight. Meanwhile, Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez fall from the rankings after upset losses.

Featherweight

1. Max Holloway

2. Alexander Volkanovski

3. Brian Ortega

4. Jose Aldo

5. Frankie Edgar

6. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire

7. Zabit Magomedsharipov

8. Mirsad Bektic

9. Chad Mendes

10. Renato Moicano

Alexander Volkanovski glided by Jose Aldo via decision and now has the strongest claim to a title shot at Max Holloway. However, he will have to wait until after Holloway defends versus Frankie Edgar. Patricio Freire picked up another big win, a quick and somewhat controversial stoppage over Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler. A.J. McKee picked up the biggest win of his career via unanimous decision over Pat Curran and it feels inevitable that he cracks the top 10.

Bantamweight

1. Marlon Moraes

2. Henry Cejudo

3. Raphael Assuncao

4. Aljamain Sterling

5. Jimmie Rivera

6. Cody Stamann

7. Pedro Munhoz

8. Cody Garbrandt

9. Kyoji Horiguchi

10. Bibiano Fernandes

T.J. Dillashaw is no longer UFC bantamweight champion after a drug test failure and two year suspension by USADA. Marlon Moraes and Henry Cejudo will fight to crown a new champion. Bibiano Fernandes returns to the top 10 after avenging his only loss in the last nine years against Kevin Belingon, albeit via an underwhelming disqualification. John Lineker falls out after a split decision loss to Cory Sandhagen.

Women’s Bantamweight

1. Amanda Nunes

2. Ketlen Vieira

3. Aspen Ladd

4. Germaine de Randamie

5. Tonya Evinger

6. Raquel Pennington

7. Yana Kunitskaya

8. Marion Reneau

9. Sara McMann

10. Macy Chiasson

Aspen Ladd looked great again in a decision win over Sijara Eubanks. Ladd is one of the most marketable fighters to come along recently in the women’s bantamweight division, making UFC’s decision not to promote her much a strange one. Inexperienced Macy Chiasson breaks into a thin top 10 after another dominant win, this time over Sarah Moras.

Women’s Flyweight

1. Valentina Shevchenko

2. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

3. Nicco Montano

4. Jessica Eye

5. Katlyn Chookagian

6. Jennifer Maia

7. Joanne Calderwood

8. Andrea Lee

9. Liz Carmouche

10. Alexis Davis

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane didn’t look at her best against Veta Arteaga, but a brutal cut from an elbow forced the doctor to stop the bout and Macfarlane was victorious again. Jennifer Maia picked up a close decision over Alexis Davis in a battle of contenders.

Women’s Strawweight

1. Jessica Andrade

2. Rose Namajunas

3. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

4. Tatiana Suarez

5. Nina Ansaroff

6. Claudia Gadelha

7. Livia Renata Souza

8. Carla Esparza

9. Weili Zhang

10. Michelle Waterson

The deepest women’s division by a wide margin, strawweight is full of high level fighters jockeying for position since dominant champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk lost her crown. Rose Namajunas defeated Jedrzejczyk for the title but she lost it Jessica Andrade in Brazil following a high impact slam. Michelle Waterson scored a clear decision win over Karolina Kowalkiewicz and is now in the top 10 while Carla Esparza picked up a win over Virna Jandiroba.


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