Editor's Choice: Top 10 Pound-for-Pound MMA RankingsPosted on December 6, 2011, 12:21 PM by Joey Santosus
With many of MMA's biggest names set to do battle over the next several months, there's no better time than now to address that non-existent, yet oft-debated list that we in the community like to refer to as "Pound for Pound" rankings.
Though 2011 has been good to mixed martial arts fans, it will soon be behind us, and with it goes the rankings of past. Over the last 365-days, new faces have emerged to claim their spot on the coveted list, while others have fought tooth and nail to maintain their place.
Of course, as with any opinion-oriented list that has not been compiled by reviewing hours of various statistics and indisputable fact, there will be LowKick'ers who both agree and disagree with some of the names on my list. For those of you who disagree, I encourage you to make your opinion known in the comments section below. But, more importantly, I remind you that the LowKick.com community rankings not only empower you with the ability to exercise your opinion, but also impact the final list that is presented each month on the LowKick.com homepage. So, as always, remember to keep your rankings up to date!
On that note, let's take a look at my selections for the top ten pound-for-pound fighters in the world as of December 2011:
Photos by Francis Specker and Scott Hirano
|1. Anderson "The Spider" Silva (LK: 1)
No surprise here. Silva is still the best in the world, and though his aura of invincibility was all but shattered at the hands of Chael Sonnen, the nasty front-kick to Vitor Belfort's face and sound beating he laid on Yushin Okami in Brazil, have since gone a long way in repairing those cracks. Currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, "The Spider" isn't expected to return until June, and will likely face the winner of the UFC on Fox 2 headliner pitting Sonnen against Mark Munoz.
|2. Georges "Rush" St. Pierre (LK: 2)
Another mainstay on this list, and a solid number-two, is Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. Unbeaten since 2007, St. Pierre catches a lot of flak for his perceived lack of killer instinct. But, finish or no finish, all the Canadian knows how to do is win. He'll look to keep that streak alive when he meets the yin to his yang, "The Stockton Bad Boy" Nick Diaz on Super Bowl weekend.
|3. Frankie "The Answer" Edgar (LK: 4)
To be the man, you've got to beat the man, and Frankie Edgar beat him twice. B.J. Penn was widely ranked among the top five pound for pound fighters in the world when he was dethroned by Edgar, and just because some people couldn't believe what had transpired, the should-be 145'er did it again in his first Lightweight title defense. Still not convinced? After nearly being beheaded by Gray Maynard on New Year's Day, Edgar managed to battle back to a draw in a fight that many feel he won. Of course, that debate became irrelevant in October, when "The Answer" knocked out the unbeaten "Bully" the fourth-round of their threematch. Up next for Edgar is former WEC stand-out, turned UFC contender crusher, Ben Henderson.
|4. Jon "Bones" Jones (LK: 3)
Jon Jones' ascension up the Light Heavyweight ranks has certainly been a sight to behold. After 15 outings, which saw him run through veterans such as Stephan Bonnar and Vladamir Matyushenko, touted prospects Brandon Vera and Ryan Bader, and former title holders Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Jones' future is looking brighter than ever. In what will be his fourth fight this year, "Bones" will square off with another former champ in Lyoto Machida at UFC 140. If victorious, Jones just may be the answer to the game of musical chairs that has long plagued the Light Heavyweight title mix.
|5. Jose "Scarface" Aldo (LK: 5)
Often likened to Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo presents as a less polished version of his "big brother," and at just 25-years-old, has plenty of time to smooth out the rough patches. Currently riding an impressive 13-fight winning streak, Aldo proved he could persevere in the face of adversity by weathering a late storm to retain his Featherweight strap against Mark Hominick, and answered questions surrounding the legitimacy of his past opposition by handily defeating UFC veteran and perennial title contender Kenny Florian. Waiting in the wings, however, is the hungry Team Alpha Male product Chad Mendes, who will put the Brazilian's grappling ability to the test when the two go head to head at UFC 142 in January.
|6. Dominick "The Dominator" Cruz (LK: 7)
Dominick Cruz has bobbed and weaved through the best 135'ers that ZUFFA has to offer, avenging his sole career defeat and building a ten-fight winning streak along the way. Though the weight class remains under-appreciated by the casual MMA fan, there's no denying the legitimacy of his opponents. Of the last seven fighters Cruz has faced, only Urijah Faber has been stopped more than once, while the remaining six have either never been finished, or have been stopped only once. With a trilogy fight with Faber on deck for 2012, "The Dominator" appears to have officially cleared out his division. Here's hoping that TUF 14 will produce some new contenders to the throne.
|7. Jon Fitch (LK: NR)
In a parallel universe where Georges St. Pierre became a hockey player instead of a fighter, there's little doubt in my mind that Jon Fitch would have reigned atop the Welterweight division. Unfortunately for him though, we live in this universe, where GSP is champ and Fitch receives the same criticism for not finishing with none of the glory that the title brings. But, like his Canadian counterpart, Fitch is a winner, and if it weren't for his draw with B.J. Penn, the UFC would have ran out of excuses for not giving him another crack at the belt. With at least two contenders now ahead of him in the Welterweight title mix, Fitch will soon face the bearded one, Johny Hendricks, at UFC 141, in a bout where the AKA product has nothing to gain and everything to lose.
|8. Nick Diaz (LK: 9)
Despite having seven losses to his name, "The Stockton Bad Boy" is 16-1 since 2007, with his only blemish in four years coming by way of a cut stoppage. This impressive streak coupled with the fact that I'm quite certain that he'd fight Brock Lesnar if the money was right, earns the former Strikeforce Champion a spot at number-eight on my list. One of the more well-rounded fighters in the game today, Diaz signed-on with the UFC after running out of contenders under the Strikeforce banner and has since went on to defeat B.J. Penn in an unprecedented manner. He'll soon be put to the ultimate test, however, when he challenges Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 143. If Diaz can learn to "play the game" and prove that wrestling is no longer his Achilles heel, the sky is the limit for the Cesar Gracie fighter.
|9. "Suga" Rashad Evans (LK: NR)
After debuting as a Heavyweight on The Ultimate Fighter 2, Rashad Evans went on to claim the six-figure contract before dropping to 205, where he has since defeated the who's who of the division. Though long layoffs and untimely injuries have plagued the once-beaten former champ, Evans returned with a vengeance at UFC 133, absolutely destroying Tito Ortiz to improve his overall record to 16-1-1. With sights set firmly on his former friend turned arch-nemesis, Jon Jones, "Suga" will get yet another opportunity to prove why he's still number-one contender when he meets Phil Davis at UFC on Fox 2 in January. If victorious, the Jones-Evans grudge match will likely take place in 2012 - if Rashad can remain healthy, that is.
|10. Dan "Hendo" Henderson (LK: 8)
Although it's not the first time that Dan Henderson has made an appearance on this list, for the veteran to re-emerge as a pound for pound great at the age of 41 speaks volumes about the type of competitor he is. Following a long, successful career in MMA, Henderson had absolutely nothing left to prove when he knocked out Rafael Cavalcante to claim the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title. Just as the natural Middleweight had no real rhyme or reason for taking on Heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko, who he dispatched of via TKO in the opening-round. But, perhaps most impressive, was his legendary battle with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua last month, a gutsy performance that will live on in the highlight reels for years to come. Though there has been no clear indication of what may lie ahead for Henderson, UFC President Dana White has stated that a title shot could be in reach for Hendo - which division appears to be up to him.