1. Daniel Cormier (21-1)Cormier added to his legacy at UFC 226, becoming only the second simultaneous two-division titleholder in the promotion’s history with a first-round knockout of heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in the main event. Cormier remains undefeated in the big man’s division, and based on a post-fight confrontation with current World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar, he could remain at heavyweight for his next title defense.
2. Alexander Gustafsson (18-4)Gustafsson has completed the rehabilitation process for his injured shoulder and is ready to return to the Octagon after recently inking a new UFC contract. After a rumored matchup with ex-middleweight champion Luke Rockhold fell through, “The Mauler” will square off with fellow former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 227 on Aug. 4 in Los Angeles.
3. Ryan Bader (25-5)Bader’s march toward heavyweight gold began in emphatic fashion at Bellator 199, where he knocked out fellow 205-pounder Muhammed Lawal in just 15 seconds. The Power MMA Team product’s fifth straight triumph secured a meeting with Matt Mitrione in the semifinals of the Bellator MMA heavyweight grand prix later this year.
4. Volkan Oezdemir (15-2)A third-degree felony battery charge for an alleged assault outside a Florida nightclub did not prevent Oezdemir from competing -- and comping up short -- for light heavyweight gold at UFC 220. Those ongoing legal issues, which have since been resolved, resulted in the Swiss fighter being pulled from a proposed bout against Mauricio Rua at UFC Fight Night 129. The promotion initially rebooked the bout for its event in Hamburg, Germany, but Oezdemir was then moved to a higher-profile matchup against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 227 on Aug. 4.
5. Phil Davis (19-4)Since 2015, “Mr. Wonderful” is 6-0 against opponents not named Ryan Bader. That string of success continued at Bellator 200, where Davis scored a head kick knockout of Linton Vassell in London. Considering that both of Davis’ defeats to Bader were of the split decision variety, it is not unreasonable to think a third meeting could be on the horizon.
6. Glover Teixeira (27-6)After his one-sided demolition and gruesome knockout loss against Alexander Gustafsson in 2017, it was perfectly reasonable to assume Teixeira’s near decade-long run as an elite 205-pound fighter might be done. Think again: At UFC on Fox 26 on Dec. 16, the Brazilian veteran pulled a quick turnaround on Top-10 talent Misha Cirkunov, pounding him out in the first round. Teixeira will next meet Corey Anderson -- a replacement for the injured Ilir Latifi -- in the UFC Fight Night 134 co-main event on July 22 in Hamburg, Germany.
7. Jan Blachowicz (22-7)Once on the verge of losing his UFC roster spot after dropping four of five fights inside the Octagon, Blachowicz has since rebounded to win three consecutive bouts. The most recent was the most significant, as he avenged an earlier defeat to Jimi Manuwa with a unanimous decision over the “Poster Boy” at UFC Fight Night 127 in London.
8. Jimi Manuwa (17-4)Manuwa’s brief time as a light heavyweight title contender may be over. Given an opportunity to send a message on home soil in a rematch against Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night 127 in London, “Poster Boy” faltered badly, losing a clear-cut unanimous verdict in the co-main event. Now 38 years old, Manuwa has suffered two straight defeats after beginning his promotional tenure with wins in six of his first eight appearances.
9. Ilir Latifi (14-5)In a division badly in need of new contenders, Latifi is working hard to provide a fresh face. “The Sledgehammer” won for the fifth time in six Octagon appearances at UFC on Fox 28, where he dropped Ovince St. Preux with a left hook before submitting his opponent with a standing guillotine choke in the opening stanza. The 34-year-old Swede’s ascent through the division has since hit an unfortunate bump in the road, as an injury forced him to withdraw from a proposed bout with fellow contender Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night 134 on July 22.
10. Ovince St. Preux (23-11)St. Preux put a loss to Ilir Latifi in his rearview mirror, as he submitted Tyson Pedro with a straight armbar in the UFC Fight Night 132 co-main event on June 23 in Kallang, Singapore. The 35-year-old Knoxville MMA export has won four of his five fights since suffering consecutive defeats to Jon Jones, Jimi Manuwa and Volkan Oezdemir between April 23, 2016 and Feb. 4, 2017. While St. Preux may never again sniff the top of the division, he remains one of the UFC’s most trusted and effective gatekeepers at 205 pounds.
Other Contenders: Misha Cirkunov, Nikita Krylov, Tomasz Narkun, Mauricio Rua, Dominick Reyes.
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