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Enjoy him while he’s still around, because the finish line is in sight for Daniel Cormier.
Cormier became the first athlete in Ultimate Fighting Championship history to defend titles in two weight classes with a second-round submission of Derrick Lewis in a heavyweight championship clash at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 3. While the ease with which Cormier dispatched “The Black Beast” was expected, it shouldn’t diminish the accomplishments of the American Kickboxing Academy mainstay.
“DC” is unbeaten as a heavyweight, compiling a 12-fight winning streak over the course of stints in both Strikeforce and the UFC. At 205 pounds, Cormier is at worst the second-best fighter on the planet, as Jon Jones remains the only man to defeat him in mixed martial arts competition. Cormier will officially be stripped of the light heavyweight crown when Jones squares off against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 on Dec. 29, but the Louisiana native nonetheless proved to be a worthy champion while his rival dealt with numerous issues in recent years.
It appears that Cormier won’t stick around to settle the score with Jones, however. He turns 40 in March and has targeted that milestone for his retirement date. Before that happens, Cormier is targeting a lucrative heavyweight showdown with Brock Lesnar at UFC 235 on March 2. That could very well be the last time we see one of the sport’s true greats in the Octagon.
Without further delay, the updated Sherdog.com Pound-for-Pound Top 10 rankings:
1. 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. With the win, Cormier became the first fighter to defend titles from two divisions in UFC history, though he will officially be stripped of the 205-pound crown when Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson step into the Octagon at UFC 232 on Dec. 29. He also set the stage for his anticipated showdown with Brock Lesnar early next year, targeting UFC 235 on March 2 for his farewell bout.
2. Max Holloway (19-3)Holloway is not having much luck in 2018. Just days out from a scheduled 145-pound title defense against Brian Ortega in the UFC 226 co-main event, “Blessed” was pulled from the bout due to concussion-like symptoms. That marks the third time this year Holloway has been forced to withdraw from a fight: An injured foot forced him out of a matchup with Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 in March, and the Hawaiian was deemed medically unfit to take a short-notice lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April. Holloway was rebooked against Ortega at UFC 231 in Toronto on Dec. 8.
3. 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. Unbeaten in his last seven Octagon appearances and the owner of the longest active title defense streak in the UFC, Woodley is in a great spot right now -- regardless of how history currently sees him.
4. 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. There is much to resolve before considering what’s next for Nurmagomedov in the Octagon, as he faces disciplinary action from both the Nevada Athletic Commission and the UFC in the coming weeks. As dominant as any fighter in the UFC, Nurmagomedov has won 11 consecutive bouts in the promotion.
5. 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.
6. T.J. Dillashaw (16-3)Nothing quite slams the door on a rivalry like back-to-back knockouts. Dillashaw did just that in the UFC 227 headliner with his second finish in as many outings against former Team Alpha Male training partner Cody Garbrandt. The Duane Ludwig protege has won eight of his last nine fights in the Octagon and is securely in the Greatest of All-Time discussion for his division. It appears that a showdown with reigning flyweight king Henry Cejudo could be next for Dillashaw.
7. Henry Cejudo (14-2)When Cejudo made his mixed martial arts debut on the regional circuit, Demetrious Johnson was already the UFC’s reigning flyweight champion. When he squared off with “Mighty Mouse” the first time, he clearly was not ready, losing via first-round technical at UFC 197. The second time around, Cejudo had clearly evolved, and he ended Johnson’s record title reign with a split decision triumph in the UFC 227 co-main event. Cejudo has already expressed interest in a superfight against bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw, and that matchup appears close to becoming a reality following the UFC’s trade of Johnson to One Championship.
8. 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. Considering the close nature of the defeat and the fact that Johnson also owns a first-round stoppage of Cejudo, a trilogy seemed to make a lot of sense. However, 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.
9. 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.
10. Tony Ferguson (23-3)Ferguson showed no ill effects from the knee injury that forced him out of a title fight in April, as he displayed all of his trademark movement and creativity en route to earning a stoppage victory against Anthony Pettis in the UFC 229 co-main event. “El Cucuy” may have lost his interim 155-pound belt due to injury, but with 11 consecutive victories under his belt, he remains the top contender in the division.
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.