MMA rankings: Stipe Miocic cements his place atop the heavyweight division

Stipe Miocic in action against Francis Ngannou during a heavyweight championship mixed martial arts bout at UFC 220, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Boston. Miocic retained his title via unanimous decision. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
(Gregory Payan / AP)

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


1. Stipe Miocic

2. Francis Ngannou


3. Alistair Overeem

4. Fabricio Werdum

5. Cain Velasquez

6. Junior Dos Santos


7. Vitaly Minakov

8. Mark Hunt

9. Derrick Lewis

10. Alexander Volkov


Stipe Miocic successfully turned back the challenge of Francis Ngannou in the main event of UFC 220. Ngannou was extremely dangerous early but as the fight progressed he grew tired and Miocic took over. Miocic has quietly taken out almost all of the world’s top heavyweights, leaving the great Cain Velasquez as his biggest lingering challenge.

Light Heavyweight

1. Daniel Cormier

2. Alexander Gustafsson


3. Ryan Bader

4. Phil Davis

5. Glover Teixeira

6. Volkan Oezdemir


7. Jimi Manuwa

8. Misha Cirkunov

9. King Mo Lawal

10. Nikita Krylov


Daniel Cormier’s UFC light-heavyweight title defense against Volkan Oezdemir went much like most expected it to. Oezdemir’s striking presented some problems for Cormier early but Cormier’s class took over with time. Cormier grounded Oezdemir and secured a TKO from repeated punches there.


1. Robert Whittaker

2. Yoel Romero


3. Luke Rockhold

4. Gegard Mousasi

5. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

6. Chris Weidman


7. Kelvin Gastelum

8. Michael Bisping

9. Derek Brunson

10. David Branch


Robert Whittaker was supposed to defend the UFC middleweight title at home in Australia in February but those plans were dashed when Whittaker had to pull out due to a serious staph infection that spread to his organs. UFC president Dana White indicated the situation is a severe one so the primary concern is with Whittaker’s health. As Whittaker battles that challenge, Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold will compete for an interim title.


1. Tyron Woodley

2. Stephen Thompson


3. Rafael Dos Anjos

4. Robbie Lawler

5. Rory MacDonald

6. Douglas Lima


7. Colby Covington

8. Demian Maia

9. Darren Till

10. Santiago Ponzinibbio


Rory MacDonald defeated Douglas Lima for the Bellator welterweight title at Bellator 192, but both men gained in stature. It was an important win for MacDonald and Lima gave MacDonald all he could handle. It was an indication of the quality that exists in the Bellator welterweight division. In other action, Kamaru Usman picked up his seventh straight UFC win over Emil Meek and is knocking on the door of the top 10.


1. Conor McGregor

2. Tony Ferguson


3. Khabib Nurmagomedov

4. Eddie Alvarez

5. Justin Gaethje

6. Edson Barboza


7. Kevin Lee

8. Dustin Poirier

9. Michael Chiesa

10. Beneil Dariush


Khabib Nurmagomedov turned in a scary performance in his annihilation of Edson Barboza to improve his record to 25-0. Nurmagomedov will fight Tony Ferguson in a highly anticipated bout in Brooklyn and the winner hopefully will end up facing Conor McGregor.


1. Max Holloway

2. Jose Aldo


3. Frankie Edgar

4. Brian Ortega

5. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire

6. Ricardo Lamas


7. Cub Swanson

8. Chan Sung Jung

9. Josh Emmett

10. Darren Elkins


Darren Elkins sneaks into the top 10 with another come from behind win, this time over Michael Johnson. Elkins has now won six straight. He takes the place of Doo Ho Choi, who suffered a second straight setback via TKO against Jeremy Stephens.


1. T.J. Dillashaw

2. Cody Garbrandt


3. Dominick Cruz

4. Raphael Assuncao

5. Marlon Moraes

6. Jimmie Rivera


7. Bibiano Fernandes

8. John Lineker

9. Darrion Caldwell

10. Aljamain Sterling


It was an uneventful month in the bantamweight division and there isn’t a lot to come in the near future.

Women’s Bantamweight

1. Amanda Nunes

2. Valentina Shevchenko


3. Julianna Pena

4. Cat Zingano

5. Raquel Pennington

6. Ketlen Vieira


7. Sarah Kaufman

8. Sara McMann

9. Marion Reneau

10. Katlyn Chookagian


Many top bantamweight fighters have been moving up to featherweight to create a new title there and Amanda Nunes could be the next as the UFC has expressed interest in Nunes facing Cris “Cyborg” Justino.


1. Demetrious Johnson

2. Joseph Benavidez


3. Henry Cejudo

4. Kyoji Horiguchi

5. Jussier Formiga

6. Sergio Pettis


7. Ray Borg

8. Wilson Reis

9. Brandon Moreno

10. John Moraga


The top flyweight bout on the horizon for now is likely Ray Borg vs. Brandon Moreno in Austin, Texas.

Women’s Strawweight

1. Rose Namajunas

2. Joanna Jedrzejczyk


3. Jessica Andrade

4. Claudia Gadelha

5. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

6. Tecia Torres


7. Carla Esparza

8. Maryna Moroz

9. Jessica Aguilar

10. Livia Renata Souza


Cynthia Calvillo came out fast against Carla Esparza, but Esparza hung in there and narrowly won the second and third rounds of their bout to hand Calvillo her first professional defeat. Esparza doesn’t always make it look easy but she has an impressive list of victories over the course of her career.