A little less than three years ago, Henry Cejudo looked out of his depth in a flyweight title shot against Demetrious Johnson at UFC 197.
At the time, it would have been hard to imagine that “The Messenger” would ascend to the lofty position he currently occupies, as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. Not only has Cejudo avenged the loss to Johnson -- a fighter many regarded as the world’s best in any weight class -- but he retained his 125-pound belt with a shockingly quick stoppage of reigning bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw in his most recent outing at UFC Fight Night 143 in Brooklyn, New York. Few fighters can claim such an impressive set of back-to-back victories, and it’s now safe to say Cejudo’s MMA achievements have caught up to his golden pedigree.
Thanks to his 32-second TKO of Dillashaw -- disputed though it may be -- Cejudo climbs past Robert Whittaker to the No. 6 spot in our latest pound-for-pound poll. Whether he is allowed to continue his reign atop the UFC’s flyweight division is up to the Las Vegas-based promotion. Regardless of what the future may hold, Cejudo has earned his place. Dillashaw, still very much in the discussion for bantamweight “GOAT,” only slips to the eighth spot following the disappointing setback.
Without further delay, the updated Sherdog.com Pound-for-Pound Top 10 rankings:
1. Jon Jones (23-1)As long as Jones stays out of trouble, there is no better fighter at 205 pounds. The Jackson-Wink MMA standout reminded the world of his greatness at UFC 232, when he emphatically defeated Alexander Gustafsson by third-round technical knockout at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. It was a far cry from their first meeting at UFC 165 in 2013, when the lanky Swede took Jones to the brink of defeat before losing a unanimous decision. After dispatching Gustafsson, Jones vowed to have an active 2019, and he’ll get a jumpstart on those plans by defending his belt against Anthony Smith in the UFC 235 headliner on March 2.
2. Daniel Cormier (21-1)The best thing you can say about Cormier’s effort at UFC 230 was that it was predictable. “DC” landed multiple takedowns on underdog Derrick Lewis before securing a tapout with a rear-naked choke at the 2:14 mark of the second stanza. Cormier became the first fighter to defend titles from two divisions in UFC history. Cormier previously set March 20 as a retirement date, but with both upcoming pay-per-view events having already booked headliners, “DC” could fight on past his 40th birthday.
3. Max Holloway (20-3)After a rough year saw Holloway suffer through multiple fight cancellations, “Blessed” closed out 2018 with a bang at UFC 231. The reigning featherweight champion busted up the previously undefeated Brian Ortega for four rounds, ultimately forcing a doctor stoppage before the fifth round could commence. The Hawaiian fighter, who owns the second-longest winning streak in UFC history, wants a fight on his home soil. Regardless of the venue, the identity of his next opponent could prove to be very interesting. A move up one division to lightweight, where numerous tantalizing matchups await, could also be in Holloway’s future.
4. Tyron Woodley (19-3-1)Woodley continues to make his case to be known as the “Greatest of All Time” at welterweight. In the UFC 228 headliner, “The Chosen One” dispatched Darren Till via second-round submission, tapping out his English opponent with a brabo choke in the second frame. Woodley is unbeaten in his last seven Octagon appearances and the owner of the longest active title defense streak in the UFC. He’ll look to add to his resume when he faces Kamaru Usman in the UFC 235 co-main event on March 2 in Las Vegas.
5. Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0)Post-fight shenanigans aside, Nurmagomedov was in prime form against Conor McGregor at UFC 229. He completed takedowns, applied heavy top pressure and generally made life difficult for the knockout-minded Irishman at every turn. “The Eagle” even survived adversity -- he lost a round for the first time in his promotional tenure -- before tapping McGregor with a neck crank at the 3:03 mark of round four. As dominant as any fighter in the UFC, Nurmagomedov has won 11 consecutive bouts in the promotion.
6. Henry Cejudo (15-2)Few fighters have authored a pair of back-to-back triumphs like Cejudo. After edging pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson to claim flyweight gold at UFC 227, the Olympic gold medalist needed just 32 seconds to dispatch reigning bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw in the UFC Brooklyn headliner to retain his title. Plenty of uncertainty remains regarding the future of the flyweight division in the UFC, but Cejudo made a strong case to keep it around for a while longer. At the least, he seems to have set up a rematch with Dillashaw for the 135-pound belt down the road.
7. Robert Whittaker (20-4)After nearly a year away from competition, Whittaker returned to the Octagon and delivered an instant classic in a rematch against Yoel Romero in the UFC 225 headliner. The Australia-based fighter survived knockdowns in the third and fifth rounds to hold off “The Soldier of God” -- a man he also defeated for interim 185-pound gold at UFC 213 -- for a narrow split decision triumph. Whittaker, who has won nine consecutive fights, will coach opposite Kelvin Gastelum on Season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter” before squaring off with his rival at UFC 234 on Feb. 9 in Melbourne, Australia.
8. T.J. Dillashaw (16-4)Few could have expected Dillashaw to fall to Henry Cejudo in just 32 seconds at UFC Brooklyn. While the reigning bantamweight champion is adamant that the stoppage was early — he called it “complete bulls—t” at the post-fight press conference — it’s unclear if he will be granted a rematch at 125 pounds. Dillashaw, who had won eight of nine bouts prior to facing Cejudo, remains the No. 1 fighter in the world at bantamweight and figures to have a number of interesting options for his next Octagon appearance, including a rematch with the Olympic gold medalist at 135 pounds.
9. Demetrious Johnson (27-3-1)All good things must come to an end, including Johnson’s record streak of 11 successful flyweight title defenses. “Mighty Mouse” did not go down easily, losing a tension-filled split decision to Henry Cejudo in the UFC 227 co-main event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. With that, Johnson’s run in the UFC has reached its end, as the promotion “traded” the pound-for-pound stalwart’s contract for that of former One Championship and Bellator welterweight titlist Ben Askren. Johnson is scheduled to take part in One’s upcoming 125-pound grand prix tournament, beginning with a matchup against Yuya Wakamatsu on March 31.
10. Stipe Miocic (18-3)Heavyweight title reigns are fleeting, even if you have authored the longest such reign in UFC history. That proved to be the case for Miocic, who fell to reigning light heavyweight king Daniel Cormier via first-round knockout in the UFC 226 headliner. The defeat snapped a six-fight winning streak for the Ohio firefighter, who had bested Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem during his stay at the top.
Sherdog’s divisional and pound-for-pound rankings are compiled by a panel of Sherdog.com staff members and contributors: Tristen Critchfield, Mike Fridley, Brian Knapp, Jesse Denis, Eric Stinton, Ben Duffy, Jay Pettry, Jacob Debets, Nathan Zur, Kevin Wilson, Edward Carbajal, Jason Burgos, Guy Portman, Anthony Walker, Tudor Leonte, Mark Raymundo, Jordan Colbert, Jordan Breen, Mike Sloan, Tom Feely, Adam Martin and Joao Baptista.