The SB Nation panel is back with their latest rankings, and these come in the aftermath of UFC 165. Champion Jon Jones successfully defended his title for the sixth time, but it was definitely the biggest challenge of his UFC career to date. Challenger Alexander Gustafsson stood toe-to-toe with the champ for 25 close minutes, and he was rewarded for it by our panel despite coming up short on the cards.
As usual, our panel consists of two members from each of the three SB Nation MMA sites - Ariel Helwani and Dave Doyle from MMA Fighting; Thomas Myers and Alex Giardini from MMA Mania; and finally, Dallas Winston and yours truly from Bloody Elbow. Check out the fancy chart below to see where we had everyone at.
(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. At present, this does not affect anyone who would generally be considered a Top 10 LHW fighter. Lyoto Machida has been dropped from the current rankings due to his booking at middleweight for his next bout.)
Jones retains his top billing with his unanimous decision win at UFC 165, while Gustafsson solidified his case as the second-best LHW in the world with his performance against the champ. After that, there was a bit of disagreement over who should fill in the next three spots, but it turned out to be next title challenger Glover Teixiera, Rashad Evans, and Phil Davis.
Six through ten was fairly routine as well, with the inclusion of one surprise (at least in my eyes). Antonio Rogerio Nogueira came in at six largely due to his recent win over Rashad Evans; And Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen took the seven and eight spots. The surprise to me was Vitor Belfort coming in at nine, despite not winning a fight in the division since his return to the UFC in 2009 (though he did have two catchweight wins at 195 and 197 lbs).
Upcoming matchups for ranked fighters
Alexander Gustafsson (2) vs. TBA, January 2014 in Sweden (Unconfirmed)