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Cain Velasquez still rides high in Times' MMA rankings

January 21, 2013|By Todd Martin
  • Cain Velasquez is the top heavyweight in the world.
Cain Velasquez is the top heavyweight in the world. (Cameron Spencer / Getty…)

Cain Velasquez remains the top dog among heavyweights in The Times' MMA rankings for January, as compiled by Todd Martin:

Heavyweight

1. Cain Velasquez

2. Junior Dos Santos

3. Alistair Overeem

4. Daniel Cormier

5. Fabricio Werdum

6. Josh Barnett

7. Frank Mir

8. Antonio Silva

9. Stefan Struve

10. Travis Browne

The first time Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos met, Dos Santos dealt a serious blow to Velasquez’s aura and momentum by knocking out Velasquez in the first round. When it came time for the rematch, Velasquez more than returned the favor. Velasquez turned in one of the most impressive performances of 2012, dominating Dos Santos for 25 minutes and regaining the UFC heavyweight title. With Velasquez as champion, his training partner Daniel Cormier is likely to move to light heavyweight later in the year. Velasquez’s next opponent will almost certainly be Alistair Overeem if Overeem can get by Antonio Silva at UFC 156.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Rashad Evans

3. Alexander Gustafsson

4. Dan Henderson

5. Lyoto Machida

6. Phil Davis

7. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

8. Glover Teixeira

9. Ryan Bader

10. Gegard Mousasi

As UFC builds towards a Jon Jones-Chael Sonnen light heavyweight title fight, the line of contenders for the next title shot is building up. Alexander Gustafsson will look to earn that shot by defeating UFC newcomer Gegard Mousasi in Sweden on April 6. Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida will fight in Anaheim and the winner of that fight could also enter the discussion. A dark horse is the surging Glover Teixeira, who will look to punish Quinton “Rampage” Jackson Saturday night on Fox.

Middleweight

1. Anderson Silva

2. Chris Weidman

3. Chael Sonnen

4. Luke Rockhold

5. Yushin Okami

6. Vitor Belfort

7. Hector Lombard

8. Michael Bisping

9. Mark Munoz

10. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

A hectic month shook up the middleweight division, with many of the division’s top title contenders suffering defeat. Vitor Belfort knocked out Michael Bisping with a head kick, an event that could sadly end the Brit’s longstanding quest for a middleweight title shot. Alan Belcher was approaching title contention with four straight wins but got outwrestled, controlled and beaten by Yushin Okami. Tim Boetsch was perceived as a title contender by some but lost via TKO to Costa Philippou. Belfort, Okami and Philippou are unlikely to fight Anderson Silva for the middleweight title in the near future, improving the hopes of Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold.

Welterweight

1. Georges St. Pierre

2. Johny Hendricks

3. Jon Fitch

4. Carlos Condit

5. Nick Diaz

6. Rory MacDonald

7. Martin Kampmann

8. Jake Ellenberger

9. Josh Koscheck

10. Demian Maia

In the only welterweight bout of the month of particular consequence, Tarec Saffiedine won the biggest bout of his career over Nate Marquardt. Saffiedine destroyed Marquardt’s lead leg with leg kicks to become the last Strikeforce welterweight champion. While a good win for Saffiedine, he’s unlikely to debut in the UFC in as prominent a position as Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez or even Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.

 

Lightweight

1. Ben Henderson

2. Frank Edgar

3. Gilbert Melendez

4. Gray Maynard

5. Anthony Pettis

6. Jim Miller

7. Michael Chandler

8. Nate Diaz

9. Donald Cerrone

10. Clay Guida

Jim Miller returned to the winner’s circle at UFC 155 with a dominant and thrilling win over the resilient and gutsy Joe Lauzon. Miller will need a few more wins to put himself in title contention but he’s a tough challenge for any opponent. Michael Chandler retained his Bellator lightweight title with a relatively easy submission win over Rick Hawn. Hawn came into the bout with a 14-1 record and his only loss coming via split decision, but he couldn’t make it past the second round with Chandler. The 19-0 Khabib Nurmagomedov sent out a warning to the rest of the division with his third straight impressive UFC win over Thiago Tavares.

 

Featherweight

1. Jose Aldo

2. Chad Mendes

3. Pat Curran

4. “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung

5. Erik Koch

6. Dustin Poirier

7. Hatsu Hioki

8. Dennis Siver

9. Ricardo Lamas

10. Nik Lentz

Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran kicked off his promotion’s Spike TV debut with a hard fought win over Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Next up for Curran are title defenses against Daniel Straus and the winner of a Rad Martinez-Shahbulat Shamhalaev contest. Nik Lentz breaks into the top 10 with his second featherweight victory against Diego Nunes. Lentz is the latest fighter to benefit from a move from the shark infested waters of the 155 pound division to the relatively calm swimming at 145 pounds.

 

Bantamweight

1. Dominick Cruz

2. Renan Barao

3. Michael McDonald

4. Urijah Faber

5. Brian Bowles

6. Eddie Wineland

7. Bibiano Fernandes

8. Brad Pickett

9. Eduardo Dantas

10. Raphael Assuncao

Eddie Wineland scored an important victory December 29, outpointing Brad Pickett to vault himself up the ranks of the bantamweight contenders. Depending on when Dominick Cruz is able to return from a serious ACL injury, Wineland could find himself fighting the winner of Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald for the UFC interim bantamweight crown.

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