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Fightmania February Rankings

By on March 2, 2011

February brought plenty of action to MMA fans, including appearances by three of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport so far: Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, and BJ Penn. The three had vastly different results in their bouts; where will they be ranked in the newest Fightmania rankings? What about all of the other elite fighters who competed over the month? Read on to find out.

BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISION (135 LBS.)
1. Dominick Cruz
2. Joseph Benavidez
3. Urijah Faber
4. Miguel Torres
5. Scott Jorgensen
6. Brian Bowles
7. Takeya Mizugaki
8. Masakatsu Ueda
9. Brad Pickett
10. Demetrious Johnson (NR)

Dropped out: Wagnney Fabiano (10)

There wasn’t a lot of action among the top bantamweight fighters this month, although Demetrious Johnson sneaks into the tenth spot after his UFC 126 win over Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. Wagnney Fabiano drops out to make room for “Mighty Mouse”. Miguel Torres stays put despite his comfortable win over Antonio Banuelos in early February.

Coming up, many of these fighters will make their debuts in the UFC. Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez will do so on UFC 128 against Eddie Wineland and Ian Loveland, respectively. Brian Bowles finally returns to action March 3rd against Damacio Page, and Takeya Mizugaki fights that night, as well. Scott Jorgensen will fight Ken Stone in June, while Demetrious Johnson will compete on “The Ultimate Fighter 13” finale, too. Finally, Miguel Torres and Brad Pickett will face off in a great fight at UFC 130 on May 28.

FEATHERWEIGHT DIVISION (145 LBS.)
1. Jose Aldo
2. Manny Gamburyan
3. Diego Nunes (5)
4. Hatsu Hioki
5. Marlon Sandro (6)
6. Chad Mendes (NR)
7. Kenny Florian (NR)
8. Michihiro Omigawa (3)
9. Josh Grispi (8)
10. Raphael Assuncao (9)

Dropped out: Mike Brown (10), Bibiano Fernandes (7)

The biggest fight in the featherweight division was Michihiro Omigawa’s UFC return against Chad Mendes, which Mendes took in dominant fashion. Mendes makes his (probably long overdue) move into the top ten with the win, while Omigawa drops. I took the opportunity to leap-frog Diego Nunes over Hatsu Hioki during a big shake-up month for this weight class, though there was relatively little action. I feel bad about not having room for Mike Brown, but what can you do? He lost two fights in a month. He’ll be back. I put Kenny Florian in there at number 7 to begin, and although there were guys ranked behind him, I thought Bibiano Fernandes was the weakest of the bunch, so he had to go.

There are lots of upcoming fights for these guys, but not in the near future. Raphael Assuncao faces Erik Koch at UFC 128, while Aldo defends his UFC title for the first time at UFC 129 against Mark Hominick. Omigawa (Darren Elkins) and Nunes (Kenny Florian) fight at UFC 131 on June 11, while Sandro will make his Bellator Fighting Championships debut sometime in the near future.

LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION (155 LBS.)

1. Frankie Edgar
2. Gilbert Melendez
3. Gray Maynard
4. Eddie Alvarez
5. Shinya Aoki (10)
6. George Sotiropoulos
7. Anthony Pettis
8. Melvin Guillard (9)
9. Tatsuya Kawajiri (NR)
10. Jim Miller (NR)

Dropped out: Evan Dunham (8)

Holy crap, lightweight division. Sotiropoulos was upset by Dennis Siver in a fight that surprised many of us, so he drops, and Florian drops out of the division entirely to compete at 145 points, so he’s outta here. Still, this is really hard to do. I have a fifth spot open and nobody seems fit to fill it. I can’t move Sotiropoulos up after the loss to Siver, even though I think it was more of a bad style clash for him than anything. Pettis doesn’t seem worthy of the spot just yet, nor does Guillard, and Dunham was just beaten by Guillard. That leaves me two choices: bring in someone and put them at the five-spot or ascend Shinya Aoki to that rank. I think I may have been a bit too hard on Aoki in the past, though my reservations about his striking and wrestling skills remain, so I’ll put him there…reluctantly.

What can you do? I’m not happy about it, but it’s just a mess and these guys all simply need to fight one another. Unfortunately, they’re spread through several organizations and that’s not going to happen, which means my monthly challenge of making sense of this division continues.

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

Nothin’ doin’ here. Fitch and Penn ended in a draw, and I think Fitch validated his spot, as did Penn. Fitch was in trouble, but at the end of the day “in trouble” means little if you don’t end up tapping and he won the third round decisively, proving again that he’s the second best welterweight in the sport. Penn, meanwhile, showed his remarkable talent by giving up 15-20 pounds and giving Fitch a tougher challenge than anyone besides Georges St. Pierre has. I was disappointed that Carlos Condit had to drop out of his fight with Chris Lytle, which was the other welterweight fight to really look forward to this month.

Of course, St. Pierre-Shields will determine a lot of the future of this division. Will St. Pierre vacate the title and move up to middleweight permanently? Can Shields finally dethrone the top welterweight in the sport? If GSP leaves, will we see Fitch-Penn 2 for the vacant title (I think we should)? That fight will lead to answers for all of those questions and more. In more immediate terms, Sanchez and Kampmann give us a fight to look forward to this week on the UFC’s latest Versus-aired event.

MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION (185 LBS.)
1. Anderson Silva
2. Chael Sonnen
3. Yushin Okami
4. Nate Marquardt
5. Demian Maia
6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
7. Vitor Belfort
8. Alan Belcher
9. Jorge Santiago
10. Michael Bisping

I’m not dropping Belfort for losing to the best middleweight fighter of all time, that’s for sure. He stays put, as does Bisping, who showed great killer instinct against veteran Jorge Rivera, whether or not he showed great sportsmanship. Bisping will certainly get a jump up in competition for his next bout, and a chance to show he deserves to be seen as one of the top several middleweights in the world.

The top three are in limbo for the immediate future. Silva’s waiting to see if St. Pierre will move up and challenge him, Sonnen is on a…leave of absence? Poor Okami is on the outside looking in again as one of the UFC’s famous promised title shots doesn’t appear to be in the cards. Marquardt faces Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 128 in a fight both desperately need to win, while Jorge Santiago will return to the UFC and take on Brian Stann at UFC 130.

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

Jon Jones debuts in the top ten after beating Ryan Bader quite clearly in their much-anticipated matchup. Why is Jones only ranked ninth, you say? Only? Only? The guy is spectacular and has limitless potential, but he’s beaten one top ten opponent. One. Where do you want him…fifth? Second? First, for God’s sake? I’m just being realistic here. If he can take out the number one light heavyweight in the world, I’ll gladly board the hype train. Until then, he’s a sure-thing future champion who hasn’t gotten close to peaking.

There’s a big drop-off after the top four spots, and there won’t be much chance of any real rearranging soon, due to some injury troubles and Zuffa’s reluctance to have the four actually fight one another. Evans is hurt, Shogun is facing Jones, Rampage is apparently fighting Matt Hamill of all people, and Machida is fighting Randy Couture. Henderson has a title shot coming up in Strikeforce against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante in what is a tough, but very winnable fight that should see Henderson winning his first title since the Pride days.

HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION (up to 265 LBS.)
1. Cain Velasquez
2. Brock Lesnar
3. Fabricio Werdum
4. Fedor Emelianenko
5. Shane Carwin
6. Alistair Overeem
7. Junior dos Santos
8. Antonio Silva (NR)
9. Frank Mir (8)
10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (9)

Dropped out: Josh Barnett (10)

OK, so Fedor lost. Again. We’ve all had time to process it, and my conclusion is that he got beaten by a much larger, and very talented man. I’m not dropping Fedor. What, am I going to put Carwin ahead of him? Come on. I could be committed for such an act. I’m itching to move Overeem up, up, up but I have to keep reminding myself to hold off and let him earn it. He’ll get the chance against Werdum in Strikeforce’s grand prix. Silva moves in at number eight, as I think there’s a clear drop-off between the top eight and the last two (Mir and Nogueira), neither of whom has looked good in recent fights.

I’m still waiting for all of the “Brock’s gonna retire! Brock’s going back to the WWE! Brock’s done!” naysayers to recant their misguided beliefs, but that’s an exercise in futility, my friends. No, those fine folks have already moved on elsewhere, creating new rumors and projecting their intellectual vomit on fresh targets. Meanwhile, Lesnar will coach against, then fight against dos Santos in the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. Mir will face Roy Nelson in what is a fairly intriguing bout at UFC 130. I’m probably dropping Nogueira out next month if he still doesn’t have a bout in the works. There’s just too much talent in this division right now.

POUND FOR POUND (No Limit)
1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Anderson Silva
3. Jose Aldo
4. Frankie Edgar
5. BJ Penn (7)
6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (5)
7. Dominick Cruz (6)
8. Rashad Evans (9)
9. Lyoto Machida (10)
10. Jon Fitch (8)

What do I do with St. Pierre and Silva? I keep them where they were, and here’s why: you will likely never see St. Pierre be dominated for nearly five rounds the way that Silva was against Chael Sonnen. I know, I know- Silva was hurt. St. Pierre’s been hurt, too. Like when he was whooping Thiago Silva’s ass with a torn groin, remember? Look…number 2 in the world pound-for-pound is not an insult. They’re both amazing and would be first-ballot MMA Hall of Famers, if there was such a thing. I put St. Pierre first based upon the fact that he hasn’t so much as been threatened by an opponent in a long, long time.

I moved Penn up because how many times are there where “pound for pound” actually means something besides “imaginary journalist bullshit”? Last Saturday was one of those times, as Penn took possibly both of the first two rounds from the number two welterweight in the world, despite not adding any meaningful weight to move up from 155 pounds. Fitch moves down because hey, you can’t let a 167-pound dude who weighed in wearing jeans take you down like that. Even if he is BJ freaking Penn.

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