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MMA Latest Fighter Rankings – July

Brice Schroeder

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This past month was an amazing time to be a fight fan.  Arguably the two biggest stars in the sport both appeared in the Octagon (Rousey and McGregor) and we witnessed one of the greatest fights in recent memory (Lawler-MacDonald).

July was also an extremely busy month for mixed martial art’s fans.  The UFC alone put on six events since our last rankings.  Sprinkle in some Bellator, WSOF, and ONE Championship and you get a lot of interesting changes in the newest addition of the MMA Latest fighter rankings

As always like MMA Latest on Facebook and follow @MMALatestNws and my personal account @BriceJSchroeder on twitter and let us know who made the cut for your rankings.

*6 writers (including myself) submitted ballots this month*

*All bouts up to August 6th were considered in these rankings*

 

Women’s Strawweight

01 Joanna Jędrzejczyk (10-0) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Cláudia Gadelha (13-1) – UFC

03 Carla Esparza (10-3) – UFC

04 Jessica Aguilar (19-5) – UFC

05 Tecia Torres (6-0) – UFC

06 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (7-0) – KSW/Invicta FC

07 Rose Namajunas (2-2) – UFC

08 Maryna Moroz (6-0) – UFC

09 Joanne Calderwood (10-1) – UFC

10 Jessica Penne (12-2) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Livia Souza, Paige VanZant, Alexa Grasso

 

Women’s Bantamweight

01 Ronda Rousey (12-0) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Miesha Tate (17-5) – UFC

03 Cat Zingano (9-1) – UFC

04 Alexis Davis (17-6) – UFC

05 Sara McMann (8-2) – UFC

06 Sarah Kaufman (17-3 1 NC) – UFC

07 Jessica Eye (11-3 1 NC) – UFC

08 Holly Holm (9-0) – UFC

09 Amanda Nunes (10-4) – UFC

10 Tonya Evinger (15-6) – Invicta FC

Honorable Mentions – Bethe Correia, Liz Carmouche, Julianna Peña

 

Flyweight

01 Demetrious Johnson (22-2-1) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 John Dodson (17-6) – UFC

03 Joseph Benavidez (22-4) – UFC

04 Jussier Formiga (18-3) – UFC

05 Ian McCall (13-5) – UFC

06 John Moraga (16-4) – UFC

07 Kyoji Horiguchi (15-2) – UFC

08 Henry Cejudo (9-0) – UFC

09 Ali Bagautinov (13-3) – UFC

10 Zach Makovsky (19-6) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Chris Cariaso, Dustin Ortiz, Wilson Reis,

 

Bantamweight

01 T.J. Dillashaw (12-2) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Dominick Cruz (20-1) – UFC

03 Raphael Assunção (23-4) – UFC

04 Renan Barão (33-3 1 NC) – UFC

05 Urijah Faber (32-8) – UFC

06 Marlon Moraes (15-4-1) – WSOF

07 Aljamain Sterling (11-0) – UFC

08 Michael McDonald (16-3) – UFC

09 Bibiano Fernandes (18-3) – ONE Championship

10 Thomas Almeida (20-0) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Takeya Mizugaki, Bryan Caraway, Johnny Eduardo, Eduardo Dantas,

 

Featherweight

01 José Aldo (25-1) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Frankie Edgar (19-4-1) – UFC

03 Conor McGregor (18-2) – UFC

04 Chad Mendes (17-3) – UFC

05 Ricardo Lamas (15-4) – UFC

06 Max Holloway (13-3) – UFC

07 Charles Oliveira (20-4-1) – UFC

08 Patrício Freire (24-2) – Bellator

09 Dennis Bermudez (14-4) – UFC

10 Cub Swanson (21-7) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Jeremy Stephens, Nik Lentz

 

Lightweight

01 Rafael dos Anjos (24-7) – UFC – 5 of 6 1st place votes

02 Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0) – UFC – 1 of 6 1st place votes

03 Donald Cerrone (28-6 1 NC) – UFC

04 Anthony Pettis (18-3) – UFC

05 Benson Henderson (22-5) – UFC

06 Eddie Alvarez (26-4) – UFC

07 Michael Johnson (16-8) – UFC

08 Gilbert Melendez (22-5) – UFC

09 Will Brooks (15-1) – Bellator

10 Tony Ferguson (19-3) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Edson Barboza, Myles Jury, Al Iaquinta, Beneil Dariush

 

Welterweight

01 Robbie Lawler (26-10 1 NC) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Johny Hendricks (17-3) – UFC

03 Rory MacDonald (18-3) – UFC

04 Tyron Woodley (15-3) – UFC

05 Carlos Condit (30-8) – UFC

06 Matt Brown (20-13) – UFC

07 Demian Maia (21-6) – UFC

08 Ben Askren (14-0 1 NC) – ONE Championship

09 Hector Lombard (34-4-1 2 NC) – UFC

10 Rousimar Palhares (18-6) – WSOF

Honorable Mentions – Dong Hyun Kim, Gunner Nelson, Tarec Saffiedine

 

Middleweight

01 Chris Weidman (13-0) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Luke Rockhold (14-2) – UFC

03 Jacaré Souza (22-3 1 NC) – UFC

04 Yoel Romero (10-1) – UFC

05 Anderson Silva (34-6) – UFC

06 Lyoto Machida (22-7) – UFC

07 Vitor Belfort (24-11) – UFC

08 Gegard Mousasi (37-5-2) – UFC

09 Michael Bisping (27-7) – UFC

10 Tim Kennedy (18-5) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Thales Leites, Dan Henderson

 

Light Heavyweight

01 Jon Jones (21-1) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Daniel Cormier (16-1) – UFC

03 Anthony Johnson (19-5) – UFC

04 Alexander Gustafsson (16-3) – UFC

05 Ryan Bader (19-4) – UFC

06 Rashad Evans (19-3-1) – UFC

07 Phil Davis (13-3 1 NC) – Bellator

08 Glover Teixeira (22-4) – UFC

09 Ovince Saint Preux (18-6) – UFC

10 Liam McGeary (10-0) – Bellator

Honorable Mentions – Jimi Manuwa, Rampage Jackson, Patrick Cummins

 

Heavyweight

01 Fabrício Werdum (20-5-1) – UFC – 6 of 6 1st place votes

02 Cain Velasquez (13-2) – UFC

03 Junior dos Santos (17-3) – UFC

04 Stipe Miocic (13-2) – UFC

05 Andrei Arlovski (24-10 1 NC) – UFC

06 Travis Browne (17-3-1) – UFC

07 Ben Rothwell (35-9) – UFC

08 Mark Hunt (10-10-1) – UFC

09 Alistair Overeem (39-14 1 NC) – UFC

10 Frank Mir (18-9) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Josh Barnett, Aleksey Oilynik

 

Pound-for-Pound

01 Jon Jones (21-1) – UFC – 5 of 6 1st place votes

02 José Aldo (25-1) – UFC

03 Demetrious Johnson (22-2-1) – UFC – 1 of 6 1st place votes

04 Ronda Rousey (12-0) – UFC

05 Chris Weidman (13-0) – UFC

06 T.J. Dillashaw (12-2) – UFC

07 Robbie Lawler (26-10 1 NC) – UFC

08 Fabrício Werdum (20-5-1) – UFC

09 Rafael dos Anjos (24-7) – UFC

10 Joanna Jędrzejczyk (10-1) – UFC

Honorable Mentions – Daniel Cormier, Dominick Cruz, Frankie Edgar, Conor McGregor

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Bellator: Selecting the Four Alternates for the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

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With an 8-man tournament bracket full of legends and former champions, join us as we chose four alternates for the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Main Tournament Participants:

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Frank Mir
  • Chael Sonnen
  • Quinton Jackson
  • Roy Nelson
  • Matt Mitrione
  • Ryan Bader
  • King Mo Lawal

The alternate tournament bracket will consist of: two opening round fights (semi-final), and then two victorious fighters competing against one another at the finale (final). This will determine a worthy contender to step into the main tournament bracket, in case any of the main bracket fighters are injured in their semi-final bouts.

If a pull-out or injury occurs before the opening bouts, I believe Bellator have to select the most decorated fighter, and a natural heavyweight fighter. So in case of a pull-out occurring before the opening round, I would select my #1 alternate, and so on for any more opening pull-outs.

This structure covers all bases, and keeps the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament intense and prestigious.

So with the structure laid out, here is our selected alternate fighters.

  • #1: Vitaly Minakov
  • #2: Linton Vassell
  • #3: Attilah Vegh
  • #4: Emanuel Newton

Alternate Opening Round [Semi-Final]:

  • Bout 1: #1 Vs. #3
  • Bout 2: #2 Vs. #4

Alternate Final:

  • Victor of Bout #1/#3 Vs. Victor of Bout #2 Vs. #4

Linton Vassell vs. Emanuel Newton would be a trilogy that needs to be completed. Linton dominated on the ground for the most part of their first bout, but felt he gave up positions he felt he could have held longer, and took needless transitions and risks; allowing for a very sneaky Emanuel Newton to escape the clutches of ‘The Swarm’, and when the gas tank begins to empty – a scrambling Emanuel Newton is not what you want!

Fighter bios:

Vitaly Minakov: A former Bellator tournament winner, and former Bellator heavyweight champion. A Judo black belt, and multi time Sambo world champion, there’s no denying this man’s resume as one of the best put forth out of these 4 fighters.

Linton Vassell: A man who really lives up to the moniker – ‘The Swarm’, Linton Vassell has dominated and dispatched various opponents Bellator have put across from him. Having fallen short in two title fights, and a close decision loss to King Mo, Linton has shown that he’s there with the best Bellator has to offer, maybe the Heavyweight Grand Prix might see the dark-horse finally come into the lime-light! Currently contracted to Bellator with a 7-3 record for the promotion.

If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:

Emanuel Newton: Already holding two victories over King Mo, who’s allocated in this Heavyweight main tournament bracket – that alone is just cause to enter Emanuel. An exciting and unpredictable entry this would be. Bellator parted ways with Emanuel in 2016. Currently, Newton is not on the best of runs, but this tournament needs a ‘wild-card’, and Emanuel owns that title.

Attilah Vegh: A former Bellator LHW champion. Not currently signed to Bellator. Was strangely released in 2014 after having a record of 5-1 with the promotion, and some victories over some very reputable names. Currently on a 2 fight win-streak outside of Bellator MMA.

If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:

 

Bellator 192 at The Forum – Jan. 20, 2018: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12) vs. Chael Sonnen (30-15-1)
Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena – Feb. 16, 2018: Matt Mitrione (12-5) vs. Roy Nelson (23-14)
Bellator at Allstate Arena – April, 2018: Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) vs. Frank Mir (18-11)
Bellator at SAP Center – May, 2018: Ryan Bader (24-5) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC)

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Exclusive: Hisaki Kato: “My priorities are in MMA”

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French-Japanese middleweight Hasaki Kato returns to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on former welterweight Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani. Ahead of the high-level striking match-up, Kato took the time out of his busy schedule to speak with MMA Latest.

Rangy striker Njokuani makes his middleweight debut Friday as he looks to erase his loss to Andrey Koreshkov from recent memory. It isn’t lost on Kato just how tall and lanky the 6’3 striker truly is. “Well he’s very tall,” Kato tells MMA Latest. “He was a welterweight but even for a middleweight he’s really tall he’s like 6’2, 6’3 taller than me, longer reach than me. Obviously, I was watching his fights, he’s fighting with range and using his reach to fight so that’s his number one weapon.”

In Njokuani’s last fight, Koreshkov, the former welterweight champion, held Njokuani down and elbowed him until the ref stepped in. So what exactly went wrong in the fight? “Well, first I think Koreshkov is really, really strong,” Kato explains. “Chidi Njokuani normally escapes the ground part or at least he’s on top of his opponent. But Koreshkov has good pressure and good grappling and he could take the top position. Obviously, Njokuani is not comfortable when he is on the bottom. So yeah, I think he couldn’t play his game during the last fight because Koreshkov was putting too much pressure on him.”

Former UFC fighter, Gegard Mousasi, recently made his debut against Alexander Shlemenko back in October. The Dutchman had a tough debut that resulted in a controversial decision win, Kato weighed in on whether or not he’s eyeing a fight with him and what he thought of his Bellator debut. “If I have an offer I will fight him,” he says without any particular enthusiasm. “I will fight everybody in the division. Yeah, for the last fight, well, I think luckily for him it was a three-round fight. I think if it was a five round fight the victory would have gone to Shlemenko. I don’t know maybe he had a bad camp, I don’t know but he was doing terrible.”

Kato also believes a title shot isn’t far away. “I believe I’m really close to that (a title shot),” he says. “After the win, after the Gracie fight, even if it was a decision win, the Gracie is a big family name so I was expecting a title fight. I didn’t have it so I guess if I win this time I have a good chance to have it.”

Whatever you do, don’t expect to see Kato back in a kickboxing ring anytime soon. Does it interest him to return? “Not really,” Kato replies after giving the question some thought. “If the offer is good then why not, for now, I feel more comfortable in MMA so my focus, my priorities, are in MMA.”

Many fans were very disappointed with the way his last fight turned out. Paired up against jiu-jitsu fighter, Ralek Gracie, Kato ended up going to the judges for the first time in his career. “Yeah the fight itself was really frustrating,” Kato admits. “I couldn’t do what I wanted and after two rounds, I knew I had done enough to win, and I knew he would push more. So I decided ‘yeah ok then it’s going to a decision’ but at the very least I had to win that fight.  That’s why I didn’t take too many risks in the third round. During the first and the second, I really wanted to end that fight like I always try but I couldn’t do it.”

So why hasn’t Kato fought since January? “I had an offer in September,” he says. “But I got injured during the training and had to go into surgery, and after the surgery, the process is really long to recover so that’s why.”

So what does Kato predict for the fight? “Obviously his nickname is ‘Bang’ you know, he likes to fight and that’s all I like doing too,” Kato laughs. “I’m really thinking about having a big knockout with my hands.”

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Exclusive: Fernando Gonzalez talks Paul Daley and Michael Page fights

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Long-time Bellator welterweight contender, Fernando Gonzalez, has made a career out of fighting the best fighters his promotion had to offer. The always tough Californian has displayed this willingness to fight the best when he took on Paul Daley in a kickboxing match and when he took on Michael ‘Venom’ Page, in what was supposed to be Page’s coming out fight.

The kickboxing match with Daley happened back in 2015 at “Bellator MMA and Glory: Dynamite 1” in an event that featured both Glory kickboxing as well as its fair share of intriguing Bellator MMA fights. Gonzalez would go on to lose the fight in what many fans called a ‘lackluster’ contest. Speaking to MMA Latest, Gonzalez was asked if he had any interest in returning to the kickboxing ring and why he participated in Glory kickboxing.

“No. Honestly, that kickboxing match was more just to get Daley; because they kept trying to give him to me on short notice and one was on an injury,” Gonzalez told MMA Latest. “So I was like, ‘no I don’t want to give him an easy win’, but the only thing they came up with was that kickboxing match in that time. So ever since that fight, I was like ‘listen dude lets do this MMA’. I’m an MMA guy, I know how to kickbox and I’m good with it but I prefer MMA. I love doing MMA. I don’t like to have too many rules put on me. I like being able to go out there and flow freely. Honestly, I want Daley in an MMA fight so he gets the real fight.”

Gonzalez’ fight with Michael Page was booked as the veteran getting fed to the younger up and coming contender. The fight was Page’s opportunity to add another highlight reel knockout to his collection. Obviously, someone forgot to tell Gonzalez. Gonzalez went out and made sure he never gave Page any openings, unfortunately, he would go on to lose the fight by split decision. Fernando explains what went wrong in his only Bellator loss.

Honestly the only thing that went wrong in the fight is how people viewed the fight”, Gonzalez explains. “If you really look at the fight he really didn’t land anything. The whole first round they’re talking him up, how he’s dancing and how it’s putting me into a lullaby and this and that. I was never in danger. He was not throwing a single punch. This is MMA, you cant just take on the fight with one style, you have to fight different styles for different people. If it was just boxing, you would fight a boxer just one way realistically, but Michael Page has the karate style. So you have to come up with a different formula if you’re going to fight somebody like that.”

“So my style with him, I knew that he’s used to everybody rushing him and trying to take him down. I’m a striker so I don’t mind striking. If I’m not in danger then I’m going to keep it striking. So what I did was I circled, I kept him at arm’s length, so he constantly had to throw long arms where he’s having to reach out and grab you. He’s throwing those arms out, that makes him have to basically hold his arms out a lot longer than he’s used to. He’s used to guys rushing in on him. So with me playing that outside game, obviously my legs are a lot longer than my arms, so I had to throw a lot more kicks, there was a lot of head kicks to take away his power-punch where he leaps in. By doing that, that made him work a lot longer in the second and third round where he’s normally finishing guys. By that third round, he was completely exhausted and couldn’t throw. He said his timing was off and this and that, but he was just exhausted. I had already gassed him out and he had just enough to stay away from me.”

“Really it’s just how you see the fight. They automatically assumed I had to take him down to win and that’s not necessarily true. If I’m not in danger, and I’m landing kicks, and I’m landing good shots, and he’s hitting my arms. Realistically most of the shots he landed were on my arms and that really doesn’t count. So it’s really just how you see it and that’s why one judge had it 30-27. It’s just how you’re seeing the fight. If you’re a striker you would know what you’re looking at, but if you’re a ground guy, of course, you’re going to say ‘oh I got to get it to the ground’ which is what the commentators were; two ground guys talking about what I should’ve done.”

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