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SB Nation pound-for-pound rankings: Who can knock Jon Jones from the top?

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Esther Lin

There are plenty of familiar faces at the top of the new SB Nation pound-for-pound rankings poll.

Jon Jones? Yeah, the UFC light heavyweight champion has been a lock at No. 1 ever since Anderson Silva fell from his throne. While there are all sorts of questions about the champ's mental space outside the cage these days, few people worth taking seriously dispute his spot inside. After defeating Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, Jones is once again a unanimous pick atop the SB Nation pound-for-pound poll.

Jose Aldo Jr.? The third-longest-reigning-champion in Zuffa history, who won what was then the WEC featherweight belt back in 2009, just keeps moving forward. We'll find out soon enough whether Conor McGregor will be the next to give the greatest featherweight of all-time a try.

Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, meanwhile, seems to have the third spot locked up. He's been untouchable at 125 pounds and was a legitimate title contender at 135. That's what being a pound-for-pound great is all about.

So who could give the Big Three a run toward the top any time in the near future?

Well, there's undefeated UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. The Long Island native seems to be in the same process of mowing down former champions left and right the way Jones once did. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort is next on his agenda. Weidman finished fourth this month and seems poised to move up fastest over the next couple years should any of the top dogs stumble.

Cain Velasquez, of course, has been all but unbeatable. But he's also been frequently injured. That, more than anything else, is why the UFC heavyweight champion is only ranked fifth this month. With 15 months on the sidelines and no end in sight, inactivity is the main issue keeping the champ down.

Then there's UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis. Just 27, the champ seems to be about 98 percent of the way to superstardom, with an otherworldly skill set capable of putting together highlight-reel moves in the blink of an eye. He, too, has been hampered by injury. But Pettis returned to the spotlight by becoming the first man ever to finish former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez. And Pettis, who finished sixth this month, makes his quickest turnaround in just over three years when he defends his title against Rafael dos Anjos in Dallas in March.

Fighters don't last on top forever. When Jones, Aldo, or Johnson finally stumble, Weidman and Pettis seem to have the best combination of skills, youth, and depth of opposition to claim the current kingpins' spots.

(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. As of this writing, this does not affect any fighters who would generally be considered pound-for-pound top 10-worthy. Jones remains eligible as he was not suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission for his recent out-of-competition test).


1. Jon Jones (21-1, 60 points) Barring anything else crazy coming up in the interceding months - and we'll grant that's a big "if" - then it looks like he'll be facing the winner of the Alexander Gustafsson-Anthony Johnson rematch come Fourth of July weekend.

2. Jose Aldo (24-1, 54 points) We'll know soon enough whether a certain bombastic Irishman will be on tap for Aldo's 10th UFC/WEC title defense.

3. Demetrious Johnson (21-2-1, 45 points) After a well-earned respite, "Mighty Mouse" has targeted an April return. The question is, is there a viable challenger left?

4. Chris Weidman (12-0, 39 points) Fresh challengers like Luke Rockhold and Jacare Souza await, but should he defeat Vitor Belfort at UFC 184, Dana White has indicated yet another Anderson Silva fight could be next.

5. Cain Velasquez (12-1, 38 points) Fifteen months removed from his last fight, the UFC heavyweight champion has begun sliding in the rankings due to inactivity

6. Anthony Pettis (17-3, 32 points) Talk about a tough crowd ... Pettis become the first person ever to finish Gilbert Melendez, and yet he remained stuck in the sixth spot.

7. T.J. Dillashaw (11-2 17 points) While deprived for now of the fight with Dominick Cruz everyone wants to see, indications seem to be that Dillashaw will get a chance to put the Renan Barao matter behind him once and for all next time out.

8. Robbie Lawler (22-10, 1 NC, 10 points) In eight fights over two years, Lawler went 7-1 and avenged his only loss along the way. No wonder the new champ asked for a bit of time off before his first title defense.

9t. Daniel Cormier (15-1, 6 points) Unclear what DC's path is from here, but his loss to Jones was far more competitive than the 49-46 scores would indicate.

9t. Anderson Silva (33-6, 6 points) Silva will be going for his first victory in 27 months and first at middleweight in 30 when he meets Nick Diaz on Jan. 31.

9t. Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1, 6 points) Remember that time Werdum got knocked out by Junior dos Santos? The UFC interim heavyweight champ is 8-1 since.

Votes for others: Ronda Rousey 5, Renan Barao 3, Chad Mendes 3, Vitor Belfort 2, Dominick Cruz 2, Johny Hendricks 2.