Rankings: March 8th 2010

Posted on March 8, 2010

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Note – for those viewing through RSS readers, these are the rankings from March that I’ve retroactively archived. Click the following link to view Current Rankings as of June 29th, 2010.

LIGHTWEIGHT (146  lbs. – 155 lbs.)

  1. Frankie Edgar (12-1 / UFC Lightweight Champion)

    On the rise: WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson

  2. B.J. Penn (15-6-1 / UFC)
  3. Gilbert Melendez (18-2 / Strikeforce Lightweight Champion)
  4. Gray Maynard (9-0, 1 NC / UFC)
  5. Kenny Florian (13-4 / UFC)
  6. Benson Henderson (12-1 / Lightweight Champion)
  7. Eddie Alvarez (20-2 / Bellator Lightweight Champion)
  8. Tyson Griffin (14-2 / UFC)
  9. Sean Sherk (33-4-1 / UFC)
  10. George Sotiropolous (14-2 / UFC)

I always find it odd when I see people rank a guy as number one in the world when he just lost a championship. Rankings are always presented by websites, journalists, and pundits as an “at the moment” concept, and yet there’s still this idea that you need to take an entire career into context. The simple fact of the matter is that BJ PENN lost that fight to FRANKIE EDGAR. You can say that it wasn’t the same Penn that fought that night, but that comes with the concession (spoken or unspoken) that he just might not be the same Penn anymore. Bodies get tired, games get exhausted. It happens. They’ll have their rematch, and after that we’ll know who’s number one at that time. Until then, it’s Edgar. BENSON HENDERSON gets a higher ranking on my list than I think a lot of other people would expect, but in my mind he’s ready. He’s one of those rare fighters that seems to adapt to whomever he’s fighting. Meaning he can beat anyone on a given night, and he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses eg. against a wrestler, striker, etcetera. Keep an eye on him when he gets called up to the UFC.

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WELTERWEIGHT (156 lbs. – 170 lbs.)

  1. Josh Koscheck is the best Welterweight in the UFC not named GSP. But can he provide a challenge, or will we see a repeat of their initial meeting?

    Georges St. Pierre (20-2 / UFC Welterweight Champion)

  2. Jake Shields (25-4-1 / Strikeforce Middleweight Champion)
  3. Josh Koscheck (19-4 / UFC)
  4. Jon Fitch (22-3, 1NC / UFC)
  5. Nick Diaz (21-7, 1 ND / Strikeforce Welterweight Champion)
  6. Thiago Alves (16-6 / UFC)
  7. Paulo Thiago (13-1 / UFC)
  8. Paul Daley (23-9-2 / UFC)
  9. Martin Kampmann (16-3 / UFC)
  10. Dan Hardy (14-4 / UFC)

That’s no typo at #2 – Strikeforce Middleweight Champion JAKE SHIELDS is indeed the only guy that could give GEORGES ST. PIERRE a real challenge. Shields is, really, fighting up in weight at 185, which makes what he did to Dan Henderson all the more impressive. That being said, if he were to give GSP any trouble on the ground, it’d go back to the feet and Shields would lose. JOSH KOSCHECK is the best Welterweight in the UFC not named St. Pierre. And what’s the difference between NICK DIAZ and the #1 spot? The answer: wrestling, wrestling, wrestling. Though he’s been heralded as the second coming, he still hasn’t addressed what ultimately was his undoing in the UFC…no, not the bad behavior (despite what Dana White says) but his glaring weakness against superior wrestlers. Don’t think for a second he’s gone untested in that department because of a lack of wrestlers willing to fight him. Not that he’s ducking them, it’s just that any wrestler worth his weight at 170 is already under contract with the UFC.

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MIDDLEWEIGHT (171 lbs. – 185 lbs.)

  1. Chael Sonnen talks a good game, but thus far has backed it up. Might we finally see a challenge for Anderson Silva?

    Anderson Silva (26-4 / UFC Middleweight Champion)

  2. Chael Sonnen (24-10-1 / UFC)
  3. Vitor Belfort (19-8 / UFC)
  4. Nate Marquardt (29-9-2 / UFC)
  5. Jake Shields (25-4-1 / Strikeforce Middleweight Champion)
  6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (12-2-0 / Strikeforce)
  7. Demian Maia (12-2 / UFC)
  8. Yushin Okami (24-5 / UFC)
  9. Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-1, 2 NC / UFC)
  10. Alan Belcher (16-6 / UFC)

CHAEL SONNEN gets ranked #2 by pure will alone, as his confidence is at a scary level. The mental game is an oft unspoken aspect of MMA, and Sonnen isn’t just all talk: he truly believes he can beat ANDERSON SILVA. And he’s probably one of the more underrated fighters in the game. Perhaps surprising I’d say that seeing as how he’s getting a title shot against Silva, but that’s the Middleweight division for you. JAKE SHIELDS would hold his own at Middleweight in the UFC…to a point. As much trouble as he’d give most guys at 185, I don’t think he’d be able to overcome the size disadvantage he’d encounter against guys like NATE MARQUARDT and especially VITOR BELFORT (the “next-next” in line for a title shot after Chael). Keep an eye on YUSHIN OKAMI now that he’s finally training Stateside (meaning with fighters who actually know how to fight). It wasn’t just a freak occurrence, he really did improve that drastically just by taking a plane to train in stand-up. ALAN BELCHER belongs in the Top 10…that’s about it. His inference that he’s being kept out of the top of the order by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is ridiculous. Top fighters need to be able to string together three consecutive wins in the UFC, which thus far he has been unable to do against middling (and worse) competition.

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LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (186 lbs. – 205 lbs.)

  1. From the brink of retirement to #1 in the world: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua

    Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-4 / UFC Light Heavyweight Champion)

  2. Lyoto Machida (16-1 / UFC)
  3. Rashad Evans (14-1-1 / UFC)
  4. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (30-7 / UFC)
  5. Jon Jones (10-1-0 / UFC)
  6. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (18-3 / UFC)
  7. “King” Mo Lawal (7-0 / Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion)
  8. Thiago Silva (14-2 / UFC)
  9. Randy Couture (18-10 / UFC)
  10. Forrest Griffin (17-6 / UFC)

Tons of activity in this weight class in the last two months. MAURICIO RUA put any and all doubts to rest. I went into that fight saying I was rooting for him but expectingLYOTO MACHIDA to win, and even I was shocked at how easily he put away The Dragon. The winner of RASHAD EVANS and QUINTON JACKSON is next in line for a title shot, and I fully expect Evans to win and would be surprised to see Jackson fight again. His heart’s clearly not into the game, which is a damn shame. JON JONES is a dangerous man at 205 pounds and is just waiting for the right test to put him in line for a title shot (Jones/Machida in September – you read it here first). MO LAWAL proved he was for real, and also proved a nagging suspicion held by many that Mousasi (like most international fighters) was an overrated can-eater. Hey, even I bought the hype. It wasn’t a perfect performance from Lawal, but he’s smart as all get out (seriously) improving at breakneck speed. Expect him to be ranked #1 in the world in the next two to three years. FORREST GRIFFIN needs a big win in the next six months to stay in the conversation, and honestly, I have my doubts that’s going to happen. I’d love for him to prove me wrong, but there’s a fine line between self-deprecation and low self-esteem, and Griffin has smashed past it and his body’s not doing him any favors.

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HEAVYWEIGHT (206 lbs. – 265 lbs.)

  1. Shane Carwin provides a big test later this Summer for UFC Heavyweight champ Lesnar.

    Brock Lesnar (4-1 / UFC Heavyweight Champion)

  2. Shane Carwin (12-0 / UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion)
  3. Cain Velasquez (8-0 / UFC)
  4. Alistair Overeem (33-11, 1 NC / Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion)
  5. Fedor Emelianenko (31-1, 1 NC / WAMMA Heavyweight Champion)
  6. Frank Mir (13-5/ UFC)
  7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1 / UFC)
  8. Junior Dos Santos (11-1 / UFC)
  9. Roy Nelson (15-4 / UFC)
  10. Antonio Silva (14-2 / Strikeforce)

Here’s where I’m going to catch Hell. If BROCK LESNAR had any doubts he was or would be back at one hundred percent, he wouldn’t fight. He’s that kind of guy, and he’s not hurting for money. Him and SHANE CARWIN will be an interesting fight, though I still think Brock comes out of it still the champion. ALISTAIR OVEREEM looked goddamn scary against Brett Rogers, but I can’t make heads or tails of Rogers, other than my suspicion he’s the Keith Jardine of the Heavyweight Division: a scary swinger on some nights and then looking on other nights that he doesn’t belong anywhere near his opponent. Other than that, impressive as he looked, Overeem hasn’t faced anyone of real consequence in the last few years. And now the elephant in the room. As much as I hate being the guy that has to agree with Dana White (which I do more often than you’d think), what have you done for us lately, FEDOR EMELIANENKO? We can talk about who he beat and it’s a who’s who of contenders who aren’t what they once were, and the vast majority of whom aren’t even in the sport anymore. He’ll go down as the greatest heavyweight of all time. There’s more evidence in his most recent performance against Rogers that he’s not the world-beater he once was. If you can look me in the eye and tell me you think he could get in there with Lesnar and win, then you’re a more faithful Fedor fanatic (you like that?) than I’ll ever be. I also think you’re deluded, but everyone’s got an opinion.

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