Power Ranking: UFC Top 5 Goliaths

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Top 5 UFC Fighters To Date

Top 5
USA Today Sports Images

The heavy hitters of UFC have held the top spots on the both the UFC and ESPN pound-for-pound power rankings for roughly 12 months of action. (UFC Fighter Rankings are updated approximately 36 hours after each matchup. ESPN Power Rankings are created monthly.) The exception is Benson Henderson who broke into ESPN’s Top 5 in March.

Most sports leagues rank teams on win-loss records. Some take into account intangibles such as the strength of a team’s conference or the rank of its last opponent. UFC is unique in ranking fighters. Records are, of course, taken into account. But in pound-for-pound rankings, for example, there aren’t just L’s and W’s. A fighter’s dominance during a bout weighs heavily on their position on the leader board: a TKO impresses voting media members and judges more than a submission, a split decision less than a unanimous one.

Another factor that separates UFC fighters from players and teams in other leagues is the inconsistency of an individual’s activity. Some names sit at the top of the list for months sometimes because they continue to win but sometimes because they haven’t been in a title-threatening bout for a while. This also lowers the chances for fighters in the more volatile positions in the rankings to break into the top spots.

Any way you look at it, the fighters examined in this feature are the most dominant men in the UFC not just in their records and titles, but in the way they continue to outmatch their opponents. That's what makes these men the Goliaths of Ultimate Fighting.

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No. 5 Benson Henderson

Henderson
Ron Chenoy - USA Today Sports

Class: Lightweight

Last Title bout: Dec. 8 — unanimous decision over Nate Diaz

Next Title bout: Apr. 20 vs. Gilbert Melendez

Record: 18-2-0

Henderson broke into the top 5 after dominating Diaz in a unanimous decision victory in December. He replaces Dominick Cruz who suffered a knee injury that same month and will be out of commission until this summer — if he is lucky. This makes Bendo an interesting addition to the Top 5. On the one hand, his record has been stellar: he successfully defended the Lightweight title throughout 2012 and has not been defeated since Dec. 2010 when he lost the title to Pettis. But Henderson’s victories lack three significant letters owned by the company he now keeps: TKO. Even his unanimous-decision victory over Diaz pales in comparison to the dominant force with which Diaz was handled when he faced St-Pierre last month. He will have to show up in prime condition when he defends the belt against Melendez, the former Strikeforce titleholder.

Paula Lehman is a UFC writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter @paulalehman, “Like” her on Facebook or add her to your network on Google.

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No. 4 Jose Aldo

Aldo
Gary A. Vasquez - USA Today Sports

Class: Featherweight

Last Title bout: Feb. 2 — unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar

Next Title bout: Aug. 3 vs. Anthony Pettis

Record: 22-1-0

Just under the thundering roars of the top 3 is Jose Aldo. But this says more about the top 3 than it does about Aldo’s rank. Aldo has successfully defended the title belt since taking it from Mike Brown in 2009 by KO. Of six proceeding bouts, two were also KOs, the remaining by unanimous decision. But Aldo has yet to prove he's infallible. When Aldo faced Edgar in February, onlookers were looking for more than a unanimous decision. If Aldo wants to rise to the marveled heights of Silva, Jones and GSP, his next title bout against Pettis at UFC 163 will have to be nothing less than a straight KO.

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No. 3 Georges St-Pierre

GSP
Carlos Condit - USA Today Sports

Class: Welterweight

Last Title bout: Mar. 13 -- unanimous decision of Nate Diaz

Next Title bout: unknown

Record: 24-2-2

GSP is undeniably built for greatness in the UFC. His 170 lbs. and 76”-inch reach coupled with Orthodox training makes him the last man standing in his weight class every fight. St-Pierre has defended the welterweight belt since 2007. While his eighth title match against Diaz in March was won by unanimous decision, the match was so lopsided (50-45 decision on all scorecards), so violently crushing, some may question Diaz’s true reason behind retirement. In fact, since Josh Koscheck in 2010, no one has risked a card with a St-Pierre rematch on it. The Vegas odds are too obvious. No one in their right mind would take a win/loss bet on a GSP bout. It’s not going to be whether or not he wins or loses. It will be about how severely he wins.

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No. 2 Jon Jones

Jones
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports

Class: Light Heavyweight

Last Title bout: Sept. 22 — win by submission over Vitor Belfort

Next Title bout: Apr. 27 vs. Chael Sonnen

Record: 17-1-0

When Jones took the title belt from Mauricio Rua by TKO two years ago, it was clear he was far underrated as a fighter. Having successfully defended the light heavyweight title since then, that notion is far behind him. What Jones has done in each UFC fight since Belfort has made him a commanding presence among his peers, whom he has beaten by submission every time save his matchup with Rashad Evans last summer, which he won by unanimous decision. By his own admission, Jones’ last win over Belfort was by far the most challenging but it would be difficult to make a case that his reign is coming to an end, especially with his next fight being his reality TV co-host Sonnen. Plus, any fighter who claims his toughest fight was one that ended in submission by keylock is probably in good shape.

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No. 1 Anderson Silva

Silva
Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Class: Middleweight

Last Title bout: Jul. 13 — KO/TKO over Chael Sonnen

Next Title bout: Jul. 5 vs. Chris Weidman

Record: 33-4-0

Silva has held the top spot in all rankings in all media outlets since he reclaimed the middleweight title in 2010. Most of that has to do with the fact that Silva is a finisher. His last six matchups have been won by first- or second-round KO/TKOs with the exception of a 2010 submission victory over Chael Sonnen, who he KOed in a rematch last summer. It took months of convincing from the Weidman camp to get Silva to agree to a title match in July. Silva relented, but Vegas odds reflect the nonchalant attitude with which the fight is being anticipated. The real call is for Silva to clash with his fellow gladiators Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre and Dana White recently answered that when he announced Silva will fight both of them before he retires. If Silva is on the way out of active duty, he’s doing it in a big way.

1 of 6

Top 5 UFC Fighters To Date

Top 5
USA Today Sports Images

The heavy hitters of UFC have held the top spots on the both the UFC and ESPN pound-for-pound power rankings for roughly 12 months of action. (UFC Fighter Rankings are updated approximately 36 hours after each matchup. ESPN Power Rankings are created monthly.) The exception is Benson Henderson who broke into ESPN’s Top 5 in March.

Most sports leagues rank teams on win-loss records. Some take into account intangibles such as the strength of a team’s conference or the rank of its last opponent. UFC is unique in ranking fighters. Records are, of course, taken into account. But in pound-for-pound rankings, for example, there aren’t just L’s and W’s. A fighter’s dominance during a bout weighs heavily on their position on the leader board: a TKO impresses voting media members and judges more than a submission, a split decision less than a unanimous one.

Another factor that separates UFC fighters from players and teams in other leagues is the inconsistency of an individual’s activity. Some names sit at the top of the list for months sometimes because they continue to win but sometimes because they haven’t been in a title-threatening bout for a while. This also lowers the chances for fighters in the more volatile positions in the rankings to break into the top spots.

Any way you look at it, the fighters examined in this feature are the most dominant men in the UFC not just in their records and titles, but in the way they continue to outmatch their opponents. That's what makes these men the Goliaths of Ultimate Fighting.

2 of 6

No. 5 Benson Henderson

Henderson
Ron Chenoy - USA Today Sports

Class: Lightweight

Last Title bout: Dec. 8 — unanimous decision over Nate Diaz

Next Title bout: Apr. 20 vs. Gilbert Melendez

Record: 18-2-0

Henderson broke into the top 5 after dominating Diaz in a unanimous decision victory in December. He replaces Dominick Cruz who suffered a knee injury that same month and will be out of commission until this summer — if he is lucky. This makes Bendo an interesting addition to the Top 5. On the one hand, his record has been stellar: he successfully defended the Lightweight title throughout 2012 and has not been defeated since Dec. 2010 when he lost the title to Pettis. But Henderson’s victories lack three significant letters owned by the company he now keeps: TKO. Even his unanimous-decision victory over Diaz pales in comparison to the dominant force with which Diaz was handled when he faced St-Pierre last month. He will have to show up in prime condition when he defends the belt against Melendez, the former Strikeforce titleholder.

Paula Lehman is a UFC writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter @paulalehman, “Like” her on Facebook or add her to your network on Google.

3 of 6

No. 4 Jose Aldo

Aldo
Gary A. Vasquez - USA Today Sports

Class: Featherweight

Last Title bout: Feb. 2 — unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar

Next Title bout: Aug. 3 vs. Anthony Pettis

Record: 22-1-0

Just under the thundering roars of the top 3 is Jose Aldo. But this says more about the top 3 than it does about Aldo’s rank. Aldo has successfully defended the title belt since taking it from Mike Brown in 2009 by KO. Of six proceeding bouts, two were also KOs, the remaining by unanimous decision. But Aldo has yet to prove he's infallible. When Aldo faced Edgar in February, onlookers were looking for more than a unanimous decision. If Aldo wants to rise to the marveled heights of Silva, Jones and GSP, his next title bout against Pettis at UFC 163 will have to be nothing less than a straight KO.

4 of 6

No. 3 Georges St-Pierre

GSP
Carlos Condit - USA Today Sports

Class: Welterweight

Last Title bout: Mar. 13 -- unanimous decision of Nate Diaz

Next Title bout: unknown

Record: 24-2-2

GSP is undeniably built for greatness in the UFC. His 170 lbs. and 76”-inch reach coupled with Orthodox training makes him the last man standing in his weight class every fight. St-Pierre has defended the welterweight belt since 2007. While his eighth title match against Diaz in March was won by unanimous decision, the match was so lopsided (50-45 decision on all scorecards), so violently crushing, some may question Diaz’s true reason behind retirement. In fact, since Josh Koscheck in 2010, no one has risked a card with a St-Pierre rematch on it. The Vegas odds are too obvious. No one in their right mind would take a win/loss bet on a GSP bout. It’s not going to be whether or not he wins or loses. It will be about how severely he wins.

5 of 6

No. 2 Jon Jones

Jones
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports

Class: Light Heavyweight

Last Title bout: Sept. 22 — win by submission over Vitor Belfort

Next Title bout: Apr. 27 vs. Chael Sonnen

Record: 17-1-0

When Jones took the title belt from Mauricio Rua by TKO two years ago, it was clear he was far underrated as a fighter. Having successfully defended the light heavyweight title since then, that notion is far behind him. What Jones has done in each UFC fight since Belfort has made him a commanding presence among his peers, whom he has beaten by submission every time save his matchup with Rashad Evans last summer, which he won by unanimous decision. By his own admission, Jones’ last win over Belfort was by far the most challenging but it would be difficult to make a case that his reign is coming to an end, especially with his next fight being his reality TV co-host Sonnen. Plus, any fighter who claims his toughest fight was one that ended in submission by keylock is probably in good shape.

6 of 6

No. 1 Anderson Silva

Silva
Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Class: Middleweight

Last Title bout: Jul. 13 — KO/TKO over Chael Sonnen

Next Title bout: Jul. 5 vs. Chris Weidman

Record: 33-4-0

Silva has held the top spot in all rankings in all media outlets since he reclaimed the middleweight title in 2010. Most of that has to do with the fact that Silva is a finisher. His last six matchups have been won by first- or second-round KO/TKOs with the exception of a 2010 submission victory over Chael Sonnen, who he KOed in a rematch last summer. It took months of convincing from the Weidman camp to get Silva to agree to a title match in July. Silva relented, but Vegas odds reflect the nonchalant attitude with which the fight is being anticipated. The real call is for Silva to clash with his fellow gladiators Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre and Dana White recently answered that when he announced Silva will fight both of them before he retires. If Silva is on the way out of active duty, he’s doing it in a big way.


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