MMA pound-for-pound rankings midyear 2014

UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, from Baldwin, successfully UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, from Baldwin, successfully defended his title against Lyoto Machida by winning a unanimous decision at UFC 175 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on July 5, 2014. Photo Credit: Mario Gonzalez

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Mark La Monica Mark La Monica

Mark La Monica is the deputy sports editor for cross media at Newsday and writes about mixed martial ...

On its face, the mythical pound-for-pound title may not mean all that much. There's no actual belt to win or defend, no cut of any pay-per-views either.

But pound-for-pound MMA rankings create debate over who's better than who and who's not as good as the other guy. And since we'll never really know who would win between a 170-pounder and a 240-pounder, all we're left with is debate. (Save those type of weight-discrepancy bouts for martial arts movies in the 1980s and '90s.)

So here's where we stand midway through 2014.

The P4P rankings are done every six months rather than monthly to be more comprehensive in assessing fighters' bodies of work since most of them compete only two or three times per year.

The list, in countdown order:

10. JOHNY HENDRICKS (UFC, welterweight, 16-2)

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Officially, he lost his title shot against Georges St-Pierre last November, though many believe he won the fight. Hendricks solved that problem four months later when we won the vacant title with a unanimous decision over Robbie Lawler in March.

Previous ranking: NR

Next fight: TBD.

9. ANDERSON SILVA (UFC, middleweight, 33-6)Silva, the former champion, is still recovering from a broken leg. There's talk of a return in early 2015, perhaps against Nick Diaz.

Previous ranking: 9

Next fight: TBD

8. VITOR BELFORT (UFC, middleweight, 24-10)

Since TRT was banned by the Nevada Athletic Commission last February, Belfort hasn't fought. That doesn't adversely affect his ranking here yet, at least not until he either loses a fight or can't get licensed by a commission. Until then, he's riding a three-fight win streak, all by headkick knockout. A title shot against Chris Weidman appears next for Belfort.

Previous ranking: 8

Next fight: TBD.

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7. RONDA ROUSEY (UFC, women's bantamweight, 10-0)

In 16 seconds, Rousey showed just how superior she is to all other female fighters in the UFC right now. She knocked out Alexis Davis quicker than it takes to read this paragraph. She burned more calories at her open workout three days earlier. Her two fights so far in 2014, including a TKO of Sara McMann in February, have lasted a total of 82 seconds. Rousey was scheduled to have knee and hand surgery after the Davis fight. She will appear in "The Expendables 3" later this summer.

Previous ranking: 10

Next fight: TBD.

6. ANTHONY PETTIS (UFC, lightweight, 17-2)

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Pettis has yet to defend his title since winning it in August 2013, but the injured fighter (knee) has a chance to be on a Wheaties box soon if he wins the fan vote. Also, he'll coach Season 20 of "The Ultimate Fighter" against Gilbert Melendez then defend his title against him.

Previous ranking: 7

Next fight: Jan. 3, 2015, vs. Gilbert Melendez at UFC 182 in Las Vegas.

5. CHRIS WEIDMAN (UFC, middleweight, 12-0)

Weidman, from Baldwin, proved two things in his unanimous decision win over Lyoto Machida at UFC 175 on July 5: 1) He can take punches as well as he can give them; and 2) The Anderson Silva "Yeah, but" conversations officially are over. Also, he did both of those things with sprained ligaments in his left hand that prevented him from punching and grappling as much as normal in the last two weeks of training camp.

Previous ranking: 5

Next fight: TBD.

4. DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON (UFC, flyweight, 20-2-1)

Say what you wish about the 125-pounders not being main event draws, but while you're saying that, also listen to this: Demetrious Johnson, the flyweight champion, hasn't lost in a round in the past 18 months. That's a run of 14 straight rounds over four fights. He won the last three against John Dodson on Jan. 26, 2013, for the unanimous decision, then added wins by submission, knockout and unanimous decision.

Previous ranking: 4

Next fight: TBD.

3. CAIN VELASQUEZ (UFC, heavyweight, 13-1)

Hasn't fought since last October, but Velasquez's combination of power, strength, grappling and cardio has him atop the heavyweight division still.

Previous ranking: 3

Next fight: Nov. 15 vs. Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180 in Mexico City.

2. JOSE ALDO (UFC, featherweight, 24-1)

Aldo defended his title with an easy unanimous decision over Ricardo Lamas in February, but had to postpone his Aug. 2 defense against Chad Mendes because of a neck injury. That led to the cancellation of UFC 176, but Aldo is expected to be out only 45 days or so. In the meantime, Aldo and Mendes have exchanged words instead of strikes.

Previous ranking: 2

Next fight: TBD vs. Chad Mendes

1. JON JONES (UFC, light heavyweight, 20-1)

Jones beat Glover Teixeira at his own game by slugging it out at close range. He dominated Teixeira. Next up for the champion from upstate New York is the rematch against the only fighter to win more than one round against Jones.

Previous ranking: 1

Next fight: Sept. 27 vs. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 178 in Las Vegas.

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