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Fightmania December Rankings

By on December 31, 2011

December exemplified the rest of 2011, meaning that there were plenty of big events, along with some surprising results and dominant performances, too. While some fighters, such as Jon Jones, have a firm grasp on the top spot in the rankings, others are clawing their way to the top or trying to keep from slipping out altogether. Where will everyone fall after UFC 141 and the New Year’s Eve Dream event concluded the year? Read on to find out.


1. Dominick Cruz
2. Urijah Faber
3. Joseph Benavidez
4. Scott Jorgensen
5. Miguel Torres
6. Brian Bowles
7. Demetrious Johnson
8. Masakatsu Ueda
9. Renan Barao
10. Brad Pickett

It was a quiet month for the world’s top bantamweights, but it won’t stay that way for long. Faber and Cruz, of course, will take center stage in the first FX-aired season of The Ultimate Fighter, and will face each other in the cage after the show concludes. Ueda will be back in action on January 8th against Kyoji Horiguchi as part of Bellator’s bantamweight tournament. Barao will fight Jorgensen in February. Torres had a tumultuous month without ever setting foot in the Octagon, being dropped from the UFC and then re-hired weeks later after an ill-advised Twitter joke.

“Mighty Mouse” will fight Ian McCall in the UFC’s flyweight tournament in March, and will be ranked with the flyweights when I add them next month. The same goes for Benavidez, who will face Yasuhiro Urushitani on the other side of the flyweight bracket.


1. Jose Aldo
2. Chad Mendes
3. Hatsu Hioki
4. Kenny Florian
5. Diego Nunes
6. Marlon Sandro
7. Pat Curran (8)
8. Dustin Poirier (9)
9. Michihiro Omigawa (10)
10. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (NR)

Dropped out: Manny Gamburyan (7)

Nunes got back on track with a win by unanimous decision over Manny Gamburyan, who drops out after his third straight loss. Freire is a quality fighter and, though he lost to Joe Warren by split decision, I think he’s looked better than Warren since that fight. It’s interesting that I have two Bellator fighters ranked ahead of Warren, though he’s the divisional champion there.

The next UFC event in Brazil comes in mid-January and pairs Jose Aldo and Chad “Money” Mendes, which should be a challenging fight for both men. Hioki will face Bart Palaszewski, who received some consideration for inclusion on this month’s list, on February 26. Finally, Curran will get a chance at wearing Bellator gold when he faces featherweight champ Warren at some point in the near future


1. Frankie Edgar
2. Gilbert Melendez
3. Gray Maynard
4. Shinya Aoki
5. Anthony Pettis
6. Ben Henderson
7. Melvin Guillard
8. Eddie Alvarez
9. Jim Miller
10. Michael Chandler (NR)

Dropped out: Donald Cerrone (10)

Cerrone had just one month in the top ten, and looked lethargic and just plain “off” throughout most of his bout with Diaz. Bellator champ Michael Chandler takes his place. Melendez beat the tough Jorge Masvidal decisively, even if it wasn’t an amazing performance by any means, and he stays at the two-spot. Also staying put is Aoki, who won a five-round decision over Satoru Kitaoka on New Year’s Eve in Japan. Realistically, I need to see him against a good wrestler to put to rest my concerns after the Melendez debacle before he can really move up.

Henderson will take on Edgar in the UFC’s first Zuffa-run show in Japan on February 26. The next title contender for whoever wins that bout could likely come from either the winner of Guillard-Miller in January or, more likely, Pettis-Joe Lauzon in February.


1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Josh Koscheck (3)
3. Jon Fitch (2)
4. Nick Diaz
5. Johny Hendricks (NR)
6. Jake Shields (5)
7. Nate Marquardt (NR)
8. Thiago Alves (6)
9. Carlos Condit (7)
10. Jake Ellenberger (8)

Dropped out: Martin Kampmann (10), BJ Penn (9)

Hendricks became the first person to finish Jon Fitch in nine years, and thus I think has earned a pretty big jump in the rankings. With his wrestling credentials and outstanding power, he’s a tough matchup for just about any fighter on this list. Fitch, meanwhile, only drops one spot. I hope you’ll pardon me for giving a guy a “pass” when he had gone 21-1-1 in his last nine years as a pro, with his only previous loss in that span coming to St. Pierre. Marquardt will fight for the BAMMA Welterweight Championship on Feb. 11 against Yoshiyuki Yoshida, and thus now appears on this list instead of the middleweight one.

February is when one of the biggest fights in the division will go down as Diaz will face Condit for the interim championship on Super Bowl weekend. Of course, we’ll be waiting on St. Pierre’s next appearance after yet another injury setback will keep him out until mid-2012 at earliest. Elsewhere, Shields will attempt to right the ship against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144. Alves-Kampmann is another fantastic welterweight fight, and will occur on the UFC’s first FX show in March.


1. Anderson Silva
2. Chael Sonnen
3. Vitor Belfort (4)
4. Yushin Okami (5)
5. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (6)
6. Demian Maia (7)
7. Hector Lombard (8)
8. Luke Rockhold (9)
9. Mark Munoz (10)
10. Brian Stann (NR)

Dropped out: Nate Marquardt (3; moved to Middleweight)

Belfort will face Anthony Johnson at UFC 142 as Johnson makes his middleweight debut. Marquardt drops out as he’ll be fighting at welterweight now, and Stann moves back in the fold one month after being squeezed out by Munoz. We’ll see Maia-Bisping in late January on Fox’s second UFC event.


1. Jon Jones
2. Rashad Evans
3. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
4. Dan Henderson
5. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
6. Lyoto Machida
7. Gegard Mousasi (8)
8. Forrest Griffin (7)
9. Phil Davis
10. Rich Franklin

Jones finished off an unbelievable year with a dominant finish against Machida, though Machida doesn’t drop after being the first man to take a round from Jones during his title run. Mousasi looked great while defeating Ovince St. Preux, who may have been a touch overrated, and moves up a spot over Griffin, who has been talking about retiring after a couple more fights. Franklin has had shoulder surgery and won’t be back until mid-2012 at earliest. Rampage will take on former top ten LHW Ryan Bader in Japan next year. Then, of course, there’s Evans-Davis, which will determine the next title contender according the result of their scrap on the next UFC on Fox card.


1. Junior dos Santos
2. Cain Velasquez
3. Alistair Overeem (5)
4. Fabricio Werdum
5. Brock Lesnar (3)
6. Frank Mir (10)
7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (6)
8. Antonio Silva (7)
9. Fedor Emelianenko (8)
10. Shane Carwin (9)

Overeem looked pretty good in his destruction of Lesnar, though Lesnar didn’t look like he even wanted to be in there. He moves up nonetheless, and he’s ranked third, even though I’ll say right away that I think he will beat dos Santos. Lesnar retires as the number 5 heavyweight on the planet in my eyes, right ahead of his old nemesis, Mir.

Mir looked pretty good in his win over Nogueira, though everyone quickly forgot that Nogueira had Mir in a very bad spot right before the finish. Had he not gotten a little cocky and gone for the sub instead of the TKO finish, allowing Mir to recover, who knows what might have happened? Nonetheless, submitting Nogueira in such a fashion is highly impressive and Mir moves up as a result. I still feel the five fighters ahead of him would beat him the majority of the time, as well as the number ten fighter, Carwin. Fedor racked up his second win in as many months on New Year’s Eve in Japan, but again against less-than-stellar opposition.

The action slows down in the coming months in this busy division, as Werdum will be re-welcomed into the Octagon by Roy Nelson at UFC 143, while Carwin, Nogueira and dos Santos are all on the mend from injuries.


1. Anderson Silva
2. Georges St. Pierre
3. Frankie Edgar
4. Jon Jones (5)
5. Jose Aldo (4)
6. Dominick Cruz
7. BJ Penn
8. Lyoto Machida
9. Rashad Evans
10. Dan Henderson

Jones moves up a spot past Aldo, who is still looking for a signature performance in his UFC tenure. Machida stays put despite the loss, and yes, Penn is a P4P top ten fighter even though he fell off the welterweight list. He was never a true welterweight and would be top two or three in the world still at lightweight. The guy decisively beat both Fitch and Diaz in the first round of each of those fights before his lack of cardio got the best of him. He really is a good idea of what P4P is all about. Well, besides my definition of “imaginary journalist bullshit”, which I think still sums it up pretty well.

E-Mail Jon Hartley

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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