MIDDLEWEIGHT (171 lbs. – 185 lbs.)
- Anderson Silva (26-4 / UFC Middleweight Champion)
- Chael Sonnen (24-10-1 / UFC)
- Vitor Belfort (19-8 / UFC)
- Nate Marquardt (29-9-2 / UFC)
- Jake Shields (25-4-1 / Strikeforce Middleweight Champion)
- Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (12-2-0 / Strikeforce)
- Demian Maia (12-2 / UFC)
- Yushin Okami (24-5 / UFC)
- Mark Munoz (8-1 / UFC)
- Alan Belcher (16-6 / UFC)
On August 7th Anderson Silva defends against #2 on my list, Chael Sonnen. Chael is a cerebral fighter. Cerebral in his preparation – as in he has a unique ability to spot and exploit holes in a fighter’s game – and in his psychological smack talk. That last part also helps with the bottom line financially. The promos the UFC has built for this fight featuring clips of Chael’s trash-talking are incredible. I think it’s going to be a more competitive and successful fight than a lot of people realize.
Jake Shields will be off this list once he officially signs with the UFC. He’s expressed interest in starting out at Middleweight, but Dana White has already decreed that’s not going to happen.
Yushin Okami could move further up the rankings with a decisive win over Mark Munoz, a dangerous opponent with understated knockout power.
Chris Leben was able to deflate what little stock I had in Akiyama and knock him out of my Top 10. Two wins in two weeks is nothing to sniff at regardless of who you’re fighting, but as much as I love enjoy watching him brawl, I’m not sold on him being a contender in this division again. One thing’s for certain, though – his employment in the UFC is secure.