Wednesday 7 December 2016

Where does Conor McGregor's win over Nate Diaz place him in the top 20 list of UFC fighters?

Published 24/08/2016 | 13:32

Conor McGregor celebrates after winning his welterweight bout against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 in the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Pic: Sportsfile
Conor McGregor celebrates after winning his welterweight bout against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 in the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas. Pic: Sportsfile

Conor McGregor's majority decision victory over Nate Diaz has many speculating what is next for the Irish fighter, and wondering whether he can be the first man in UFC history to hold belts across two weight divisions.

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But where does McGregor rank in a pound-for-pound list of the 20 best fighters currently in the UFC? Here, Telegraph Sport runs through the contenders.

20. Rafael Dos Anjos
#2 Lightweight, 25-8-0
As recognized for his precision striking as he is his vicious ground and pound, Dos Anjos was intended to fight Conor McGregor as Lightweight Champion at UFC 196, until he dropped out injured. He went on to fight Eddie Alvarez, lost by R1 KO, and is now looking to get his career back on track with victory over Tony Ferguson.

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19. Nate Diaz

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#4 Lightweight, 20-11-0
With a sneer, Diaz shrugged off suggestions he might fight contenders such as Tyron Woodley and Eddie Alvarez after his second clash with McGregor, instead telling reporters that he will not be back in the octagon until a trilogy fight between the pair presents itself. The 31-year old's chances of ever holding a title seem remote, but the cult hero finds himself elevated to one of the UFC's biggest stars.

18. Amanda Nunes
Champion Women Bantamweight, 13-4-0
A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Nunes is now Queen of the division Ronda Rousey once dominated with an iron first. Nunes, the UFC's first openly gay champion, stopped Miesha Tate in the first round of their title fight at UFC 200, and has now targeted a fight with the influential Rousey.

17. Joseph Benavidez
#1 Flyweight, 24-4-0
On a run of five straight victories, the two-time UFC Flyweight challenger has lost to only two men in his career: Dominick Cruz and  Demetrious Johnson. He is close to securing a trilogy fight with the latter, having lost a split decision the first time they met at UFC 152.

16. Ronaldo Souza
#3 Middleweight, 23-4-0
The jacaré blew away Vitor Belfort at UFC 199 to work his way into contention for a title fight. Unfortunately, injured robbed him of his chance to fight Luke Rockhold, with Michael Bipsing's shock victory in that bout meaning the submission grappler has fallen back down the pecking order.

15. T.J. Dillashaw 
#1 Bantamweight, 14-3-0
A finalist on The Ultimate Fighter 14, eventually losing to John Dodson by TKO, Dillashaw staged a huge upset at UFC 173 when he defeated top 5 pound for pound fighter Renan Barão in the featured bout. Avenged a 2013 loss to Raphael Assunção at UFC 200, and is now angling for a rematch with Dominick Cruz.

14. Luke Rockhold
#1 Middleweight, 15-3-0
A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Rockhold became the first person to defeat Chris Weidman, at UFC 194, which won him the Middleweight crown. A shock defeat to Michael Bisping followed, teeing up a likely rematch with Weidman this November.  

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13. Robbie Lawler
#1 Welterweight, 27-11-0
The 34-year old has had an up and down MMA career, bursting onto the UFC scene back in 2002 and promising much, before early defeats to the like of Nick Diaz and Evan Tanner relegated him to lesser promotions. Battled his way back to win the UFC Welterweight Championship at UFC 181, only for a 1st round KO at the hands of Tyron Woodley to stall his resurgence.

12. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Champion Women Strawweight, 12-0-0
The Pole boats a flawless MMA record and says she is now ready to step up to 125 pounds - should the UFC add a new women's weight class. That would make her the first female fighter to hold two belts in two different divisions, although first she is likely to meet undefeated rival Karolina Kowalkiewicz in her fourth title defence.

11. Anthony Johnson
#1 Light heavyweight, 22-5-0
Glover Teixeira, ranked #2 in the UFC Light Heavyweight rankings, fancied his chances against Johnson at UFC 202. His optimism lasted all of 13 seconds, the length of time it took for Johnson to knock out his opponent with a devastating uppercut. A tantalising match-up with the champ, Daniel Cormier, likely awaits.

10. Tyron Woodley
Champion Welterweight, 16-3-0
Upset Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 to become the undisputed UFC Welterweight champion. Dismissed by Nate Diaz as a 'no name champion' and by Conor McGregor as a "bum", but Woodley's stock is rising, and a title defence against the fashionable Stephen Thompson (13-1-0) could propel him closer to the big time.

9. Khabib Nurmagomedov
#1 Lightweight, 23-0-0
Undefeated records in the UFC are incredibly rare. But much hype surrounds the Dagestani lightweight for his record of 23 and 0. His critics point towards his supposedly low caliber of opposition and his recent inactivity (injuries mean he has fought only once in the past two years). It would be hard to deny the 27-year old his title shot, though.

8. Michael Bisping
Champion Middleweight, 30-7-0 
After taking the fight at short notice, Bisping  completely stunned Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 to win the UFC middleweight title. In doing so, he became the first ever British UFC champion. His reward is a title defence on home soil: against 45-year old no 12 ranked Dan Henderson.

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7. Stipe Miocic
Champion Heavyweight, 15-2-0
The huge 241lb heavyweight has complained of too often being underestimated throughout his career, although a 1st round KO of Fabrício Werdum - which won him the Heavyweight Championship - went a long way to winning he respect he so desperately craves. Makes his first, eagerly awaited title defence vs. Alistair Overeem at UFC 203.

6. Jose Aldo

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Interim Featherweight Champion, 26-2-0
Former P4P number one. The Brazilian unfairly became a figure of ridicule after McGregor knocked him out 13 seconds into their title unification fight at UFC 194, despite going undefeated for an entire decade. Bounced back with victory over Frankie Edgar and is now clamouring for a McGRegor rematch.

5. Eddie Alvarez
Champion Lightweight, 28-4-0
Knocked out Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 90 to win the Lightweight Championship. A fight with McGregor could be next, after UFC president Dana White told the Irishman to either defend his belt against Aldo or challenge for the Lightweight crown. There's plenty of bad blood: Alvarez recently declared that McGregor "can't fight for s***." 

4. Daniel Cormier
Champion Light Heavyweight, 18-1-0
A former Team USA Olympic wrestler, Cormier has only ever lost one fight in his entire professional MMA career, to Jon Jones, currently banned for drug offences, and thus absent from this list. Beat Anthony Johnson to win the vacant Light Heavyweight belt; a rematch, potentially at UFC 205, will be explosive.

3. Dominik Cruz

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Champion Bantamweight, 22-1-0
One of the most agile and exciting fighters to watch, Cruz is on an impressive run of 13th consecutive victories, dating back to March 2007. The Californian has the entire Bantamweight division under his thumb, and a potential fight with young pretender Cody Garbrandt would draw big numbers.

2. Conor McGregor
Champion Featherweight, 20-3-0
The most marketable, popular and exciting man in the business. His numbers tell their own story. Avenged his shock loss to the welterweight Nate Diaz with a majority points decision in fight of the year. Has the pick of three divisions, although a Featherweight title defence against Jose Aldo is his most likely next move.

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1. Demetrious Johnson

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Champion Flyweight, 24-2-1
Pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world. 30-year-old Johnson holds the longest active championship reign, at 8 title defences (Anderson Silva holds the all-time record at 10). He may be the shortest fighter in the promotion at 5'3", but Johnson is renowned for his lightening quick speed and takedown efficiency.

Telegraph.co.uk

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