There’s always great discussion when pound-for-pound lists come out. And by great discussion, I mean flame wars in comment sections and lots of guffawing at the author. But P4P lists can give you an idea of which fighters you should be watching, who the champions are and who they are fighting next. That said, enjoy the first MMA Power Rankings here at The Comeback—male edition—and feel free disagree in the comments section and on Twitter.
10. Daniel Cormier (17-1), UFC, Light Heavyweight
They say to be the champ you have to beat the champ. Cormier didn’t do that. He lost badly to Jon Jones, winning just one round of the five in their championship fight. But when Jones was stripped of his title due to legal issues, Cormier was given another shot. He choked out Anthony Johnson at UFC 187 to win the belt, then defended it against Alexander Gustaffson. But now Jones is back, and he’ll face Cormier again in a must-see fight on April 23.
9. Will Brooks (17-1), Bellator, Lightweight
Brooks may be the most under-appreciated fighter in the game. “Ill Will” has just one loss on his record, and he avenged it just months after it happened. He then beat the ultra-tough Michael Chandler to win the Bellator lightweight interim title, and beat him again to become the undisputed champ. He’s since defended that title twice. He says we haven’t seen his best yet, and I believe him.
8. Dominick Cruz (21-1), UFC, Bantamweight
Cruz is one of the best stories in MMA. He’s sort of the Derrick Rose of MMA, continually suffering major injuries. But unlike Rose, Cruz is still performing at his best, recently winning the UFC bantamweight title after a layoff of 16 months. This was after being out for more than three years. He could have retired and continued on in his gig at Fox Sports as a commentator, but he kept persevering. Like Jones, Cruz was stripped of his title due to his injuries, but he came back and won it back.
7. Luke Rockhold (15-2), UFC, Middleweight
Rockhold put on one of the more memorable performances in a title fight when he laid a life-altering beating on Chris Weidman. He ended up finishing him in round four, handing Weidman the first loss of his career and taking his belt. Weidman recently said he was at “10-20%” for that fight, and he’ll have a chance to take back the belt in a rematch with Rockhold at UFC 199.
6. Fabricio Werdum (20-5), UFC, Heavyweight
Werdum has been on an amazing run, winning six straight fights, including choking out Cain Velasquez at UFC 188. He was also the first person to beat Fedor Emelianenko in over 10 years. The injury bug caught both Velasquez and Werdum, postponing their UFC 196 rematch. The combination of much-improved kickboxing and world-class ground game makes Werdum incredibly dangerous.
5. Robbie Lawler (27-10), UFC, Welterweight
There isn’t a fighter more exciting than Robbie Lawler. His last four fights have all been amazing, and they’ve all been wins: Carlos Condit, Rory MacDonald, Johny Hendricks and Matt Brown. All were brutal, beautiful wars. Next up for the champ should be Tyron Woodley, but after Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson’s recent performance, it might be him.
4. Conor McGregor (19-2), UFC, Featherweight
He’s been called the Muhammad Ali of MMA, which is a nice way of saying McGregor runs his mouth a lot. But here’s the rub: he backs it all up. Playfully known as “Mystic Mac,” McGregor is renown for his predictions. He even calls the rounds in which he will finish his opponents. Mark down March 5 on your calendar. That’s the date for UFC 196, where McGregor will move up a division to face Rafael dos Anjos and try to take his lightweight title, making him the first UFC fighter to ever hold two titles at once.
3. Rafael dos Anjos (25-7), UFC, Lightweight
Rafael dos Anjos isn’t a McGregor fan, and he’s been vocal about it. He recently told the MMA Hour he’ll break McGregor “like a girl,” and he actually thanked Dana White for giving him “an easy fight.” We’ll see about that on March 5.
2. Jon Jones (21-1), UFC, Light Heavyweight
Jones has never really lost a fight. His “loss” to Matt Hamill was for illegal elbow strikes, a silly rule that needs to go. His legal troubles have been well-documented, but Jones is back now, and looks to be in the shape of his life. He’ll get the chance to reclaim his title when he fights Daniel Cormier at UFC 197 on April 23, and he already holds one win against the current champ.
1. Demetrious Johnson (23-2-1), UFC, Flyweight
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is not going to talk trash and self-promote very much. He’s not the most charismatic fighter in the game. But he wins. He always wins. He’s been the UFC flyweight champ since 2012, and has defended his title seven times. He’s all but cleaned out the flyweight division. Next up, former Olympian Henry Cejudo will take his shot at Johnson at UFC 197.