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MMA Latest Fighter Rankings Pre-International Fight Week

Brice Schroeder




After a hiatus the MMA Latest fighter rankings are back. There could not be a better time to resurrect the rankings with arguably the biggest week in MMA history almost upon us. With five title fights in a week, you can be sure that the next edition of our rankings will look much different than the ones below.

All fighter rankings are very subjective, but our goal will be to deliver the most accurate rankings available to help make sense of the cloudy mixed martial arts hierarchy. All the rankings to come will be accompanied by write ups detailing the changes in each weight class and the fights that caused them. Hopefully this will hold our rankings to the highest possible standard.

Please feel free to harass our twitter account @MMALatestNws and let us know where you think we screwed up and how you would rank them (and possibly congratulate us on a job well done).

Here is a quick rundown on how the rankings will be compiled going forward:

  • We will be ranking the top ten fighters in every UFC weight division and an inter-gendered pound for pound top ten.
  • All fighters are eligible, meaning panelists may include fighters from all organizations. Any suspended fighters are also eligible, but may be penalised to each panelists choosing.
  • Fighters will only be ranked in one weight class. Which weight class they are placed in will be based on their most likely weight class going forward.
  • Ten MMA Latest writers, including myself, make up our rankings panel. Each panelist submits their ballots to be tallied and the rankings will be updated after every UFC pay-per-view.

Without further ado, here is the newest edition of the MMA Latest fighter rankings.


 –Women’s Strawweight –Women’s Bantamweight –Flyweight
1Joanna Jędrzejczyk (UFC)1Miesha Tate (UFC)1Demetrious Johnson (UFC)
2Cláudia Gadelha (UFC)2Holly Holm (UFC)2Joseph Benavidez (UFC)
3Carla Esparza (UFC)3Ronda Rousey (UFC)3Henry Cejudo (UFC)
4Rose Namajunas (UFC)4Cat Zingano (UFC)4Kyoji Horiguchi (UFC)
5Karolina Kowalkiewicz (UFC)5Amanda Nunes (UFC)5Jussier Formiga (UFC)
6Jessica Aguilar (UFC)6Alexis Davis (UFC)6John Moraga (UFC)
7Tecia Torres (UFC)7Sara McMann (UFC)7Ian McCall (UFC)
8Joanne Calderwood (UFC)8Julianna Peña (UFC)8Ali Bagautinov (UFC)
9Alexa Grasso (Invicta)9Tonya Evinger (Invicta)9Wilson Reis (UFC)
10Valerie Letourneau (UFC)10Valentina Shevchenko (UFC)10Zach Makovsky (UFC)
 –Other mentions – Maryna Moroz, Angela Hill, Jessica Andrade, Paige VanZant –Other mentions – Germaine de Randamie, Liz Carmouche –Other mentions – Justin Scoggins, Louis Smolka, Dustin Ortiz


 –Bantamweight –Featherweight –Lightweight
1Dominick Cruz (UFC)1Conor McGregor (UFC)1Rafael dos Anjos (UFC)
2TJ Dillashaw (UFC)2Jose Aldo (UFC)2Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC)
3Urijah Faber (UFC)3Frankie Edgar (UFC)3Tony Ferguson (UFC)
4Rafael Assuncao (UFC)4Max Holloway (UFC)4Donald Cerrone (UFC)
5Bryan Caraway (UFC)5Chad Mendes (UFC)5Eddie Alvarez (UFC)
6Bibiano Fernandes (ONE FC)6Ricardo Lamas (UFC)6Nate Diaz (UFC)
7Cody Garbrandt (UFC)7Cub Swanson (UFC)7Edson Barboza (UFC)
8John Dodson (UFC)8Charles Oliveira (UFC)8Will Brooks (UFC)
9Marlon Moraes (WSOF)9Jeremy Stephens (UFC)9Anthony Pettis (UFC)
10Michael McDonald (UFC)10Daniel Straus (Bellator)10Dustin Poirier (UFC)
 –Other mentions – Aljamain Sterling, Eduardo Dantas, Thomas Almedia, John Lineker, Darrion Caldwell


Other mentions – Dennis Bermudez, Patricio Freire, Brian Ortega –Other Mentions – Michael Chiesa, Justin Gaethje, Beneil Dariush


 –Welterweight –Middleweight –Light Heavyweight
1Robbie Lawler (UFC)1Michael Bisping (UFC)1Jon Jones (UFC)
2Stephen Thompson (UFC)2Luke Rockhold (UFC)2Daniel Cormier (UFC)
3Tyron Woodley (UFC)3Chris Weidman (UFC)3Anthony Johnson (UFC)
4Demian Maia (UFC)4Yoel Romero (UFC)4Alexander Gustafsson (UFC)
5Rory MacDonald (UFC)5Ronaldo Souza (UFC)5Phil Davis (Bellator)
6Johny Hendricks (UFC)6Anderson Silva (UFC)6Glover Teixeira (UFC)
7Carlos Condit (UFC)7Vitor Belfort (UFC)7Ryan Bader (UFC)
8Ben Askren (ONE FC)8Lyoto Machida (UFC)8Ovince St Preux (UFC)
9Neil Magny (UFC)9Robert Whittaker (UFC)9Liam McGeary (Bellator)
10Matt Brown (UFC)10Uriah Hall (UFC)10Muhammad Lawal (Bellator)
Other Mentions – Andrey Koreshkov, Dong Hyun Kim –Other Mentions – David Branch, Gegard Mousasi, Tim Kennedy, Derek BrunsonOther Mentions – Mauricio Rua, Jimi Manuwa, Rashad Evans


– Heavyweight –Pound for Pound
1Stipe Miocic (UFC)T-1Jon Jones (UFC)
2Fabricio Werdum (UFC)T-1Demetrious Johnson (UFC)
3Cain Velasquez (UFC)3Dominick Cruz (UFC)
4Alistair Overeem (UFC)4Rafael dos Anjos (UFC)
5Junior dos Santos (UFC)5Robbie Lawler (UFC)
6Ben Rothwell (UFC)6Daniel Cormier (UFC)
7Andrei Arlovski (UFC)7Conor McGregor (UFC)
8Travis Browne (UFC)8Joanna Jędrzejczyk (UFC)
9Mark Hunt (UFC)9Michael Bisping (UFC)
10Vitaly Minakov (Bellator)10Jose Aldo (UFC)
 –Other Mentions – Josh Barnett, Derrick Lewis –Other Mentions – Frankie Edgar, Stipe Miocic


This week’s panel included:

Nicole Bosco (@NikBos), Derek Bowe (@DerekBowe7), Chase Carle (@CSquared1709), Vinny Craig (@vinny_craig), Rodney James Edgar (@RodneyJames138), Brendan McGlynn (@Sir_Brendan), Landin Murphy, Stephen Rivers (@stephenjrivers), Brice Schroeder (@BriceJSchroeder), Tony Sisombath (@Trigga_MMA)







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



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”



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



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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