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Fightmania December Rankings

By on December 31, 2010

December is ending, but as we move to 2011, we have one more piece of unfinished business: the December MMA rankings. I know, it’s last minute, but I couldn’t do them when several top ten fighters were in action on the last two days of the month in Japan’s annual year-end MMA events, could I? Let’s take a look at what’s changed in the rankings for each weight class and who’s fighting who in the near future.

1. Dominick Cruz
2. Joseph Benavidez
3. Urijah Faber (3)
4. Miguel Torres (4)
5. Scott Jorgensen
6. Brian Bowles
7. Takeya Mizugaki
8. Masakatsu Ueda
9. Brad Pickett (10)
10. Wagnney Fabiano (9)

Cruz showed us why he’s the top bantamweight in the world with another great performance, this time against a surprisingly hesitant Jorgensen. Cruz obviously can’t move up any higher, and Jorgensen isn’t dropping from the fifth spot for a decision loss to the champ, though. Pickett defeated Ivan Menjivar by decision at WEC 53, and I bumped him up a spot as he’s now won 10 of 11 fights. Torres will fight Antonio Banuelos in what should be a good fight at UFC 126. I flipped him and Faber simply because I have no idea why I would have had it the other way around. I think Faber would win a fight between the two. Faber faces Eddie Wineland at UFC 128.

Bowles will be staying put for awhile due to injury, while Mizugaki will fight Francisco Rivera on the UFC’s next Versus-televised event on March 3. Ueda finally steps in to compete on January 10, this time against Frakhad Sharipov.

1. Jose Aldo
2. Manny Gamburyan
3. Mike Brown
4. Michihiro Omigawa (5)
5. Josh Grispi (7)
6. Hatsu Hioki (9)
7. Diego Nunes (8)
8. Marlon Sandro (6)
9. Bibiano Fernandes (4)
10. Raphael Assuncao

There’s a shake-up this month due to not one, but two favored champions being upset for their respective belts: Fernandes lost to Hiroyuki Takaya at K-1 and Dream’s “Dynamite!” event, while Sandro dropped his Sengoku title to Hioki. Sandro is ranked a spot ahead of Fernandes because he put up a better fight in his bout, and against a better opponent, to boot. Omigawa, Nunes and Grispi all move up as a result of Fernandes and Sandro dropping.

Unfortunately, there’s no immediate title defense upcoming for the injured Aldo, but we do have plenty of upcoming action within the featherweight division, still. Brown and Nunes will fight at UFC 125 this weekend, while Grispi will take on Dustin Poirier. Omigawa will come to the UFC to take on Chad Mendes at UFC 128.

1. Frankie Edgar
2. Gilbert Melendez
3. Gray Maynard
4. Evan Dunham
5. Eddie Alvarez
6. Kenny Florian
7. Anthony Pettis (NR)
8. George Sotiropoulos (10)
9. Ben Henderson (8)
10. Shinya Aoki (7)

Dropped out: Josh Thomson (9)

So…about my lightweight rankings. They may look a little crazy, but let me explain. First of all, in my book, Pettis is a top ten lightweight, and so is Ben Henderson. If you had Henderson as a legit top ten before their fight, how could you not ascend Pettis to that status? Furthermore, I already had Aoki down at 7, and I don’t care whether his bout with Yuichiro Nagashima at Dynamite was under special rules or not. Both emerged from the “K-1 rules” round unscathed and fresh, and the second round was under MMA rules, so why not look at it like an MMA fight? Sorry, Aoki fans: he’s one dimensional in a way that no one else on this list is. He’ll do fine as long as he continues to face fighters that play on the mat with him instead of stopping his weak takedown attempts and knocking him out.

I had to drop Thomson, who was teetering on the edge in my book, anyway. I know he took his fight with Tatsuya Kawajiri on three week’s notice, but he also was dominated throughout the fight and lost.

So, what’s coming up? Edgar and Maynard obviously fight tomorrow night, and Pettis awaits the winner sometime in 2011. A great bout between Dunham and Florian was lost due to an injury to Florian, though Melvin Guillard has stepped in to face Dunham on January 22 for the UFC’s second “Fight for the Troops” show. Sotiropoulos will fight Dennis Siver in what should be a fun fight at UFC 127. Finally, what’s up with Melendez and Alvarez? Well, neither have opponents, but it’s unlikely that they’ll face each other anytime soon.

(170 LBS.)
1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Jon Fitch
3. Thiago Alves
4. Josh Koscheck
5. Jake Shields
6. BJ Penn
7. Nick Diaz
8. Martin Kampmann
9. Carlos Condit
10. Diego Sanchez

Nothing happening here. GSP obviously stays put after another dominating title defense, this time against Koscheck, who definitely wasn’t himself. Koscheck didn’t look very good, but a) no one does against St. Pierre and b) he’s still a better fighter than Shields, in my book. Alves looked much better this time out while soundly beating the tough John Howard, but he’s not going anywhere with Fitch and GSP ahead of him.

Aside from Nick Diaz defending his Strikeforce title against Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos in late January, not much is happening in the welterweight division in the near future. Looking ahead, we have Fitch facing Penn while Condit takes on Lytle in a likely early “Fight of the Year” candidate at UFC 127. Barring the long-rumored GSP-Anderson Silva bout, St. Pierre should face Shields next sometime in 2011.

1. Anderson Silva
2. Chael Sonnen
3. Yushin Okami
4. Nate Marquardt
5. Demian Maia (6)
6. Vitor Belfort (7)
7. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
8. Alan Belcher
9. Jorge Santiago
10. Michael Bisping (NR)

Dropped out: Dan Henderson (5) (Moved to light heavyweight)

I’ve decided to take Henderson out of the middleweight rankings and put him in the mix at light heavyweight, instead. I don’t have much of a choice, after all, I set the precedent with Penn after he took his second welterweight fight in a row. Sure, they’re my rankings, and I could just say, “hey, they’re my rankings” and leave it at that, but what fun would that be? Plus, if I kept him here I’d feel the need to rank him ahead of Marquardt based on the result of a fight outside of the weight class, and that just seems wrong, doesn’t it?

So, the only bout that happened in December among these ten was Demian Maia’s workmanlike win over Kendall Grove. Once again, it wasn’t the best performance, but he got it done. I’m not putting him above Marquardt based on that kind of fight against a non-top 10 opponent, though. To take the resulting extra spot, I put Michael Bisping in the mix. He may not be my favorite fighter, but he has consecutive wins against Dan Miller and Yoshihiro Akiyama. I know, I know, Wanderlei Silva beat him, but even as a Wandy fan, I can’t rank him when he’s only had one fight at 185, five losses in his last seven fights and is now coming off of knee surgery.

(205 LBS.)
1. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
2. Rashad Evans
3. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
4. Lyoto Machida
5. Forrest Griffin
6. Dan Henderson (NR)
7. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal
8. Gegard Mousasi
9. Rich Franklin
10. Ryan Bader

Dropped out: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (10)

The only action in this particular top ten wasn’t even an MMA bout- it was a K-1 rules kickboxing bout that Gegard Mousasi won against Kyotaro Fujimoto. Things will heat up soon enough, though, as we’re going to see Griffin take on Franklin at UFC 126, while Bader will take on Jon Jones (who many have ranked in the top ten) that same night. At UFC 128, we’ll also get Rua finally defending his newly-won title against Evans and Nogueira (who just dropped out) taking on Tito Ortiz.

Well, there was that whole Henderson-Babalu bout. I decided to have Henderson ranked here, as I explained earlier, and wasn’t quite sure where to place him, but felt like I had King Mo ranked too high anyway, so he fits nicely at number six. I’m not sure that Forrest Griffin is a better fighter than Hendo at 205, but whatever.

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

Overeem has been the only real active fighter here recently, and boy has he been active. First, he won the K-1 World Grand Prix, a feat that must be acknowledged as an impressive one, whether or not it has any bearing in a conversation about Overeem’s MMA credentials. Then, Overeem demolished the tough-but-green Todd Duffee in just nineteen seconds at Dynamite 2010. I’m bumping him not so much because of his recent accomplishments, but as more of a market correction. He poses serious matchup problems for the guys he’s leap-froggin, anyway. Carwin is the first guy that was ahead of him on the list that would have a good shot at frustrating him.

As far as Barnett goes, I know that he’s largely ranked based upon what I think he’s capable of and that he hasn’t done much in the last few years. I also know that he’s getting his licensing issues figured out at a snail’s pace. What I don’t know is who should take his place. Antonio Silva? Hasn’t beaten top competition and was nearly KO’ed by Mike Kyle, a mid-level light heavyweight fighting on short notice. Brendan Schaub? I wanted to, but he just lost to Roy Nelson not too long ago, remember? He needs some time to improve. Nelson? He just lost to dos Santos and has lost three of his last five fights, not counting the fights on “The Ultimate Fighter”, which, of course, don’t count. So Barnett stays, for now.

This division should be interesting in 2011. What’s up with Lesnar? (Dana White said, “We’ll see what happens.”) Velasquez will face dos Santos, of course. Fedor’s next fight…Antonio Silva? And will his team finally go two consecutive fights without forcing a contract renegotiation, so he can get some momentum going? Who’s Werdum facing next? How will Brendan Schaub do against Frank Mir this spring? And so on.

1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Anderson Silva
3. Jose Aldo
4. Frankie Edgar
5. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
6. Dominick Cruz
7. BJ Penn
8. Jon Fitch
9. Rashad Evans
10. Lyoto Machida

The story here on just about everybody else’s site was Georges St. Pierre taking control of the top pound-for-pound spot from Anderson Silva. Here, he had already done it, so there isn’t much to talk about.

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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