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MMA rankings: Junior dos Santos joins select club by defending heavyweight title in UFC 146

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

Junior dos Santos' victory over Frank Mir last Saturday in UFC 146 set him apart from 10 men who previously held the heavyweight championship: The win gave dos Santos at least one successful title defense.

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Junior dos Santos (R) punches Frank Mir during his heavyweight title defense at UFC 146.

That put him alongside only Maurice Smith, Kevin Randleman, Randy Couture (in stints two and three as champion), Tim Sylvia (in both of his reigns) and Brock Lesnar as the only UFC fighters to successfully defend the heavyweight belt at least once.

Dos Santos will face former champ Cain Velasquez in a rematch later this year that will prove pivotal to his career. If he wins, it will not only vault him near the top of the pound-for-pound rankings, it may also signify that a lengthy reign is in store.

Only two heavyweights in the UFC would figure to have a shot to beat dos Santos, who is fifth in this month's rankings. They would be Velasquez, whom dos Santos knocked out in 64 seconds in November to win the belt, and Alistair Overeem. Overeem is sidelined after failing a random drug test in March and won't be able to fight until 2013, at the earliest.

[Cagewriter: Cain Velasquez also starred at UFC 146]

It's no guarantee that dos Santos would beat Velasquez again, but it's also no guarantee that Overeem will be back in the title mix after angering UFC president Dana White over what White says are lies Overeem told him about using performance-enhancing drugs.

If Overeem doesn't get a shot at dos Santos, it would leave Velasquez as the only guy in the division with an above-average chance to derail him. UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has talked of moving to heavyweight, though White said he doesn't expect that to occur any time soon.

Dos Santos' one successful defense equaled Smith, Randleman, Sylvia (Reign 1), Andrei Arlovski and Couture (Reign 3). Only Couture (Reign 2), Sylvia (Reign 2) and Lesnar have made two defenses.

With that, it's time to check the updated ratings.

Silva

1. Anderson Silva
Points: 204 (15 of 21 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC (middleweight champion)
Weight class: Middleweight
Record: 29-4
Last outing: TKO2 Yushin Okami, Aug. 27
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: Title defense vs. Chael Sonnen at UFC 148, July 7

Jones

2. Jon Jones
Points: 195 (6 of 21 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC (light heavyweight champion)
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Record: 16-1
Last outing: W5 Rashad Evans, April 21
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: Title defense vs. No. 8 Dan Henderson, UFC 151, Sept. 1

Aldo

3. Jose Aldo
Points: 162
Affiliation: UFC (featherweight champion)
Weight class: Featherweight
Record: 21-1
Last outing: TKO1 Chad Mendes, Jan. 14
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Title defense vs. Erik Koch, UFC 149, July 21

Cruz

4. Dominick Cruz
Points: 138
Affiliation: UFC (bantamweight champion)
Weight class: Bantamweight
Record: 19-1
Last outing: W5 Demetrious Johnson, Oct. 1
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Injured, out indefinitely

dos Santos

5. Junior dos Santos
Points: 129
Affiliation: UFC (heavyweight champion)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Record: 15-1
Last outing: TKO2 Frank Mir, May 26
Previous ranking: 5
Up next: Title defense vs. Cain Velasquez, date TBA

Henderson

6. Benson Henderson
Points: 103
Affiliation: UFC (lightweight champion)
Weight class: Lightweight
Record: 15-2
Last outing: W5 Frankie Edgar, Feb. 25
Previous ranking: 6
Up next: Title defense vs. No. 7 Frankie Edgar, UFC 150, Aug. 11

Edgar

7. Frankie Edgar
Points: 57
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Lightweight
Record: 14-2-1
Last outing: L5 Benson Henderson, Feb. 25
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: Rematch vs. champion Benson Henderson, UFC 150, Aug. 11

Henderson

8. Dan Henderson
Points: 47
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Record: 29-8
Last outing: W5 Mauricio Rua, Nov. 19
Previous ranking: 9
Up next: Title challenge vs. champion Jon Jones, UFC 151, Sept. 1

Melendez

9. Gilbert Melendez
Points: 44
Affiliation: Strikeforce (lightweight champion)
Weight class: Lightweight
Record: 21-2
Last outing: W5 Josh Thomson, May 19
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: Nothing scheduled

Condit

10. Carlos Condit
Points: 31
Affiliation: UFC (interim welterweight champion)
Weight class: Welterweight
Record: 28-5
Last outing: W5 Nick Diaz, Feb. 4
Previous ranking: NR
Up next: Nothing scheduled

Others receiving votes: Joseph Benavidez, 14; Rashad Evans, 13; Cain Velasquez, 9; Gray Maynard, 4; Eddie Alvarez, 3; Johny Hendricks, 2.

Voting panel: Denny Burkholder, CBSSports.com; Mike Chiappetta, MMA Fighting and Fight! Magazine; Steve Cofield, Cagewriter; Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press; Dave Deibert, Post Media; Dave Doyle, MMA Fighting; Josh Gross, ESPN.com; Ariel Helwani, MMA Fighting; Loretta Hunt, SI.com; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Case Keefer, Las Vegas Sun; Damon Martin, MMA Weekly; Todd Martin, freelance; Steven Marrocco, MMA Junkie; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Dave Meltzer, The Wrestling Observer; John Morgan, MMA Junkie; Brett Okamoto, ESPN.com; Mike Straka, Spike TV and Sirius/XM; Dann Stupp, MMA Junkie; Jeff Wagenheim, SI.com.

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