One of the most hotly contested debates amongst UFC fans and the media is who the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport is. There’s no specific formula for determining who the top fighter is, but thankfully the UFC has compiled their own pound-for-pound rankings that are based on votes from media members.
With a number of title fights already lined up for next year, the pound-for-pound rankings could look a lot different at the end of 2016. With this in mind, online sportsbook Sportsbook has compiled a list of the best UFC fighters’ odds of being at the top of the pound-for-pound list at the end of 2016.
Here’s a look at some of the standout names on Sportsbook’s list:
Conor McGregor, +325, Current Rank: #3
Was there any doubt that the Irishman would be at the top of the odds list? 2015 saw McGregor skyrocket up the P4P rankings after three T/KO wins, which or course includes his 13 second KO over Jose Aldo to become the unified UFC featherweight champion.
McGregor and the UFC still haven’t given an indication of who his next opponent will be. If everything goes to plan, however, McGregor will fight a minimum of two times in 2016—defending his featherweight title, and moving up to the lightweight division for a shot at the 155 lbs title. If McGregor wins both fights and becomes a champ in two divisions there might not be much of a debate as to who the UFC’s best pound-for-pound fighter is.
Demetrious Johnson, +350, Current Rank: #1
The UFC’s current P4P king is essentially the sport’s version of the San Antonio Spurs—nobody’s talking about him, but he just keeps winning. He’s been so dominant in his seven title defenses that he’s almost cleaned out the flyweight division, with the exception of Henry Cejudo.
With finishes in three of his last five fights, Mighty Mouse has proven himself to be a complete fighter. Johnson is expected to face Cejudo in the first half of 2016. If he ends the year undefeated and McGregor falters, it’ll be hard to knock him off the top spot on the pound-for-pound list.
Jon Jones, +350, Current Rank: #2
Considering his age and the murderers’ row of talent he’s defeated, it’s hard to argue that Jones isn’t the best fighter in the world and maybe even the best fighter ever. Jones, of course, was stripped of his title and hasn’t fought since January 3rd due to his legal issues, but he’s set to step back into the Octagon in 2016.
The 28-year-old will get an immediate title shot vs Daniel Cormier, likely this spring. Considering he’s already beaten Cormier, he’s rightfully favored to win the fight. If Jones emerges victorious and healthy, he’ll fight the Sportsbook of Anthony Johnson and Ryan Bader. If Jones can shake off the rust and get back to his highlight-reel finishing style of fighting, he’ll deserve to reclaim his crown as the UFC’s pound-for-pound king.
Luke Rockhold, +800, Current Rank: #9
Since his loss to Vitor Belfort in 2013, Luke Rockhold has been on an absolute tear. He’s reeled off five finishes in a row, capped off by his TKO victory over Chris Weidman to capture the UFC middleweight title.
His run is reminiscent of the one Jones went on during his run to the top and it looks like Rockhold is continuing to get better. As far as being well-rounded goes, Rockhold might be the most complete fighter in the sport. His next opponent appears to be Yoel Romero and if he can continue his string of impressive finishes, he’ll have a strong argument as the UFC’s best fighter.
TJ Dillashaw, +1200, Current Rank: #4
Perhaps the best value on this list belongs to TJ Dillashaw. After only fighting once in 2015, Dillashaw has several high profile fights lined up for 2016. In January he’ll welcome former bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz back to the Octagon, and if he emerges victorious he’ll take on his former mentor, Urijah Faber, in a fight that will offer more drama than a daytime soap opera in its buildup.
If he stays healthy, Dillashaw should fight three times in 2016. If those ahead of him in the current pound-for-pound ranks have off years, Dillashaw has the potential to make a lot of wallets fatter if he can go undefeated in 2016.
Heavyweight champ and current #5 pound-for-pound fighter Fabricio Werdum could get the chance to defend his title three times in 2016 if he can keep winning. He’ll defend his title against Cain Velasquez in February and a long list of contenders are waiting in the wings.
With Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey all but signed to have their rematch at UFC 200 in July, it seems unlikely that either could emerge as the top P4P fighter at the end of 2016. It would appear as if they’d fight a maximum of two times each in 2016, which wouldn’t give them enough of an opportunity to make up ground on the top ranked fighters.
Unless they plan on being extremely active in 2016, it’s hard to envision former champs Jose Aldo or Chris Weidman making it to the top of rankings. Entering the year without a strap around their waists will make it hard enough, so you might be better served looking for better value picks.
Let the debate (and wagering) begin!