MMA power rankingsPosted on February 7, 2011, 10:21 PM by Evan Holober
American Football fans will recognize the words. Power rankings. They are the rankings given each and every week of the season, and it represents who writers and analysts think are the most talented teams in the NFL. Records and quality of competition are included, but it is mostly a breakdown of how the multiple parts of an NFL team would stack up with the other teams in the NFL.
Enter MMA power rankings. I will not let records, and quality of competition weigh highly on this list. Fighters will be judged almost exclusively on talent, how many facets of their game are "world class" and how they would stack up with the rest of the best fighters in the world at their particular weight class. The Heavyweights will be the first submission, and Lightheavyweights will follow later this week. I will follow those up with a submission for each weight class all the way through men's flyweight, and each month will be updating the list. Pound for pound lists by nature are judging fighters on talent alone so I feel that, in this context, it will be a overkill to add them.
So without further ado, I give you the first Power rankings in MMA:
1.Cain Velasquez- Javier Mendes said Cain Velasquez was a future Champion just days after he stepped foot into the AKA gym. Almost 4 years to the day after his first fight that proclamation became a reality. Cain has brought an All-American wrestling background into MMA, and has developed elite striking to go along with it. We still have yet to see someone make Cain fight off of his back because when Brock Lesnar was able to put him there Cain popped back up in a matter of seconds. That is the same Lesnar who kept a brilliant BJJ practicioner in Frank Mir on his back for a round and a half before pounding him into unconsciousness.
2.Fedor Emelianenko- "The Last Emperor" has lost once in his career. Nevermind that cut via illegal elbow that was landed on him in the first Tsuyoshi Kohsaka fight. He has used almost every facet - from what is described as the most brutal Ground and pound in MMA, to perfect armbars, to excellent judo throws, to stellar boxing- to create the best record for a Heavyweight along his journey to an amazing 32-2 record. The only thing that he has never used are kicks, but it's never appeared he has needed them.
3.Alistair Overeem- If "Ubereem"'s opponents had to aim for one aspect of his game to target what would it be? Take him down obviously. Unfortunately along with having arguably the best kickboxing credentials as a top tier mixed martial artist he has 19 wins via submission. He has great trips and throws mostly from the clinch, top tier striking, and one of the most deadly guillotines in MMA. The man is a scary individual.
4.Junior Dos Santos-JDS was not supposed to beat Fabricio Werdum. Mirko Filipovic and Gilbert Yvel were supposed to give him trouble on the feet. If Gabriel Gonzaga got him to the floor he was supposed to be in big trouble. None of those things mattered though. While having a couple rough patches against a few of those guys at certain points, he still dominated each. Roy Nelson is regarded as a guy with great KO power (just ask Brendan Schaub and Stefan Struve), but when he landed on Junior it didn't have the same effect. His BJJ hasn't been in view yet so that is still somewhat of a question mark, but if a guy trains with the Nogueira brothers daily than you can be sure he's got some decent jitz.
5.Shane Carwin- NCAA D2 wrestling champion with possibly the most single punch KO power in MMA. That's a description of a tough fight for anyone. While his cardio is in question after the Lesnar fight there is no questioning that early explosiveness opponents have to endure vs. Shane. His BJJ and cardio are the low parts of his game, but since he works with Yoda (Greg Jackson) he should find ways to mask those qualities in most fights.
6.Fabricio Werdum- The best HW BJJ practitioner in the world. His striking isn't pretty, but it's not terrible like some would have you believe. Since the Dos Santos fight his defense, and kicks have gotten much better. His takedowns are decent for a BJJ background (opposed to a wrestling background), and his control/patience on the ground is top tier. If a HW goes to the ground with Werdum in an MMA fight more often than not he will be submitted. Oh and he's the only person (for the time being) to ever tap Fedor.
7.Brendan Schaub- Athleticism goes far in our sport, Brendan Schaub has loads of it. He's been able to shuck off takedown attempts from superior wrestlers (Chris Tuscherer, Gabriel Gonzaga), and use his speed and power to capitalize when the time is right. In his last fight with Gabe he went the full three rounds and looked like he could go for another three. BJJ, and chin are still question marks for him.
8.Josh Barnett- I went back and forth on adding Barnett to this list. I decided to keep him here because of his Catch wrestling. It is a skill he has perfected, and will give most fighters fits on a good day. His striking has never been his strong suit, but it has steadily improved throughout his career. He has always been a showman, and that bravado has gotten him in trouble at certain points in his career. However, his skill set is still very good.
9.Frank Mir- Frank Mir has shown flashes of absolute brilliance in his career. From his start in the UFC of submitting Roberto Traven (a BJJ world champ) as a purple belt, to completely dominating a admittedly slowed down Big Nog in a fight he was a huge underdog in. Those flashes have been coupled by setbacks. However his skill is never in question. From ever improving striking, to some of the most powerful submissions in MMA, Frank Mir has always been a world beater on a good night. The problem is usually which Frank is going to show up.
10.Antonio Rodrigo- Nogueira is one of the best HWs in MMA history. Let me just get that out of the way. His BJJ was looked at as the best at HW for years, and his boxing has come along since than also. When he gets in a rhythm he is hard to go against. The fighters who have had success against him (Fedor, Cain, Mir) have always made him fight at thier pace which is usually a little bit faster than he would like to operate. Big Nog has lost a few recently, but if anyone were to go into a fight with him ill prepared then they will probably be added to the stellar list on his resume of victims.
Honorable mentions- Daniel Cormier, Shane Del Rosario, Big Foot Silva, Stefan Struve, Matt Mitrione