The Pound for Pound MMA Breakdown. Ranking the top five.

Pound for pound is the mythical base of all debate.

For what it’s worth, I was asked back in 2000 to do a pound for-pound list.  I wasn’t really sure what went into making such a list, and I did a little research and needless to say, my list was an unholy failure. I was mocked, rightfully so, and I swore off the pound-for-pound rankings forever. Well, some seventeen years later, I’m throwing my hat back into the rankings game and I’ve come up with my own top five Pound-for-Pound fighters on earth.

Number 5 ~ Dominick Cruz

domcruzDominick Cruz has only lost one fight in the last ten years. He dropped a tough decision to #3 on this list, Cody Garbrandt back at UFC 207.  That said, previous to that he’d won 13 fights in a row, including a victory over #1 Pound for Pound great Demetrious Johnson.  Dominick Cruz has shown the ability to simply avoid being hit.  Of course, he wasn’t able to do that against Garbrandt, and he still managed to have a heck of a fight with Cody.

Dominick Cruz (22-2) has seen his career suffer at the hands of various injuries, that have kept him from the cage for lengthy periods of time. That said, when he comes back, he never loses a step and performs as if ring rust doesn’t exist. He’s a true professional in every sense of the word and has a fight IQ that is off the charts.

He doesn’t currently have a fight signed, and has been doing a tremendous job breaking down the action as an analyst both for UFC studio shows and calling the action live. He called last weekend’s UFC 210 alongside Joe Rogan and John Anik.  When he’s done with fighting, he has a career in broadcasting to fall back onto.  However, I don’t see him being done yet. He’s too determined a competitor to go out on a loss, and he’s a genuine threat to win his title back in a rematch with Garbrandt.

Number 4 ~ Conor McGregor

conormcgregorI know people who love Conor, and there’s a ton of you, will feel he belongs higher on this list. Time will tell. To be honest, right now his interests seem to lie outside of the sport of MMA, and despite what he’s accomplished, he’s not too keen on defending his world titles. He wins, and either vacates the belt to chase another one in another division, or simply holds it hostage as he’s doing with the Lightweight title currently. Also, he did lose to Nate Diaz and very narrowly won the rematch, in fact, there’s a lot of people who felt he lost back to back fights to him.

Conor McGregor (21-3) has stupid stand-up skills. He is very powerful and hits people from all angles, with kicks, knees, punches, elbows and whatever else he has to throw at you (Water bottles and Energy Drinks).  He’s talented and has taken over the sport like nobody else we’ve ever seen, but in order to climb this list, he needs to consistently fight the best talent, defend the belts he’s won, and focus on the Octagon and not the boxing ring.

Also, before you suggest burning me at the stake, being considered the fourth best fighter walking the earth is nothing to scoff at. If he comes back and takes on a top ranked Lightweight and snuffs him out, he’ll climb this list, I promise you.

Number 3 ~ Cody “No Love” Garbrandt

codyCody Garbrandt (11-0) is newer to the sport, but his victory over Dominick Cruz planted his flag firmly in the top five for me. He has a lion’s will in the cage. He simply attacks and pressures his opponent until they break and look for a way out. He’s an absolute savage, in the best possible way.  He’s been in the UFC for over half of his career at this point, and his star is certainly fixing to rise as he coaches this season of The Ultimate Fighter against his next opponent and heated rival TJ Dillashaw.

The fight with Dillashaw has a ton of backstory built in, and frankly. these guys do not like each other.  TJ, once upon a time was a fixture at Team Alpha Male, but he followed “Bang” Ludwig to Colorado and that drove a wedge between him and his former teammates. Things got a little bit ugly, as they sometimes do, and before you knew it, Dillashaw and Garbrandt were at each other’s throats.  Literally, there’s a photo you can see here, where Garbrandt grips Dillashaw by the throat during the filming of TUF.

Cody is a talented fighter, his standup is top notch. He fights with anger and controlled aggression that makes him absolutely frightening.  So much more will be known about his place being cemented in the top five after his clash with TJ Dillashaw in July.

Number 2 ~ Daniel “DC” Cormier

cormierDaniel Cormier is often overlooked for how talented he is. Nobody expresses the term, “Grind” quite like Cormier. He puts in the gym time and has looked incredible in the cage.  He’s 19-1 as a professional fighter and is the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and he’s a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion.  He won a heavyweight tournament that consisted of the likes Alistair Overeem, Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko, and Fabricio Werdum.

Daniel Cormier (19-1) has a very extensive wrestling background, and his standup has come along nicely. He’s in AKA with Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold going toe to toe in what you’d loosely call sparring, turned up to 11.  His standup had to improve, or he’d be killed in those sparring sessions.  What makes Cormier so good though, is his drive. He wills himself to be the best. A failure is simply an option he doesn’t allow himself to think about. He did lose to Jon Jones (who is ineligible for this list until his suspension ends), and the two will undoubtedly square off again in what will be one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport.

Number 1 ~ Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson

demetriousDemetrious Johnson (25-2) has won eleven fights in a row, and he’s won them in amazing fashion. He’s the quickest fighter on the planet, and his ability to slip punches and transition into a takedown is the stuff of legend.  He rules the Flyweight division with an iron fist and an unmatched level of athleticism.  During his current winning streak, he has won by decision, knockout and submission and has shown an ability to fight way above the level of his competition.

We’re all lucky enough to see him compete Saturday live and free on FOX as he attempts to match Anderson Silva’s UFC best mark of 10 consecutive title defenses.  He’s on a tear the likes of which we’ve only seen once before, and likely will not see again.  If he wins Saturday, he could be looking at a monster fight with Cody Garbrandt down the line.

Demetrious Johnson is the best fighter on planet earth, and in my mind, there’s a bit of a drop to number 2.  Demetrious Johnson is just that damn good.