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Fightmania January Rankings

By on January 31, 2011

The year began with a bit of a whimper as far as MMA is concerned, as the middle of January was pretty much void of any major MMA events to speak of. Still, a number of smaller shows featured great cards, we got a look at some fighters who will surely be in these rankings at some point in the future, and there were some highly-ranked fighters in action this month, as well. With a busy February looming, here is a look at my rankings for January.

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. Wagnney Fabiano

Ueda was in action in Shooto, submitting Ralph Acosta with a brabo choke in the second round of their bout. Other than that, it was a quiet month for ranked bantamweights. There are some good fights coming up though, including Torres vs. Antonio Banuelos at UFC 126 and Faber vs. Eddie Wineland at UFC 128. Mizugaki will be in action against Francisco Rivera in March.

FEATHERWEIGHT DIVISION (145 LBS.)
1. Jose Aldo
2. Manny Gamburyan
3. Michihiro Omigawa (4)
4. Hatsu Hioki (6)
5. Diego Nunes (7)
6. Marlon Sandro (8)
7. Bibiano Fernandes (9)
8. Josh Grispi (5)
9. Raphael Assuncao (10)
10. Mike Brown (3)

We had quite a month in the featherweight division, as Grispi went from number one contender to dropping a fight to Dustin Poirier at UFC 125. He drops due to the poor performance. The real story was that Mike Brown, former champion of the division in the WEC, lost not once, but twice since our last rankings. That’s a bad month by any standard, but I just can’t drop him out of the top ten completely. His first loss was against Nunes, which is nothing to feel too badly about, and even though he dropped a second decision to Rani Yahya, I think he will prove that he’s still a high-level featherweight. Nunes moves up with his win over Brown.

Many of the top ten have fought recently and Aldo is on the shelf right now, but Omigawa will be in the UFC fighting Chad Mendes at UFC 128.

LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION (155 LBS.)
1. Frankie Edgar
2. Gilbert Melendez
3. Gray Maynard
4. Eddie Alvarez (5)
5. Kenny Florian (6)
6. George Sotiropoulos
7. Anthony Pettis
8. Evan Dunham (4)
9. Melvin Guillard (NR)
10. Shinya Aoki

Dropped out: Ben Henderson (9)

The biggest fight in the division resulted in a draw, so there’s no movement among the top part of the division. Evan Dunham lost in dramatic fashion against the surprising Melvin Guillard, who I feel as if I had to rank due to both the win and his recent resurgence. I do need more evidence that Guillard is the better overall fighter before I flip-flop the two, as right now I see it as just a bad style matchup for Dunham. I reluctantly bounced Ben Henderson for now and kept Aoki, even though I’m not a fan of Aoki’s overall skillset and I think he’d fare much worse in the States than he has in Japan. We’ve got Sotiropoulos and Dennis Siver on tap for a great fight at UFC 127 to look forward to.

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

Diaz wasn’t facing an elite opponent, but he did face a very good striker in his own element for the majority of their bout, and was doing quite well. His overall skill set is better and more versatile than Shields in my opinion, so I bumped him up, especially after the heart he showed against Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos. Penn is obviously a more talented fighter than most on this list, but I’m still doubtful that he’s better off at this weight.

Penn will get a great opportunity to prove me wrong against Fitch at UFC 127. On the same night, Condit will face Chris Lytle in what is sure to be a barn-burner. St. Pierre looks to face Jake Shields later this year.

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

Jacare moves up with his impressive performance against Robbie Lawler, who is always right in the mix for a top ten spot. I’m impressed with Jacare’s takedowns, which will serve him well as great jiu-jitsu is not so useful if you can’t get opponents to the mat. Belfort moves down as a less talented overall fighter, though he has a chance to shock the world at UFC 126.

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. Rich Franklin
10. Ryan Bader

Nothing happened with these gentlemen in January, though Thiago Silva took another step towards re-establishing himself as a top light heavyweight with a solid win over Brandon Vera. February will be a great month for this division, especially next weekend when Griffin and Franklin will fight, along with Bader and Jon Jones in an excellent piece of matchmaking. Then there’s UFC 128, which will feature Shogun finally defending his title against Evans. Dan Henderson is taking on Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante in early March, as well.

HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION (up to 265 LBS.)
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

Nothing doing here, but that’s about to change. Fedor will finally return to action against Antonio Silva in February as part of Strikeforce’s heavyweight grand prix. We also have Overeem and Werdum fighting in the tournament in April’s Strikeforce event, and Barnett still looking to take part if licensing issues can be worked out. He’s withdrawn his reinstatement request in California so that he can fight in states such as Texas or Georgia in the meantime, which should serve the purpose of the tournament for the time being. Is Strikeforce really willing to avoid mainstay locations in states like California, Nevada or New Jersey if Barnett is able to make his way to the finals of the tourney, though?

On the UFC side of things, Lesnar will coach against (and fight) dos Santos in the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter” while Velasquez heals up, and I’m still looking forward to Brendan Schaub vs. Mir this spring.

POUND FOR POUND (No Limit)
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

Nothing to talk about here except for Edgar’s draw against Gray Maynard. Yeah, he only managed a draw against a guy who’s not even on this list, but he also made an unbelievable comeback after being on the wrong side of a vicious beating in the first round. Do you reward the heart, will and presence of mind to survive and adapt, or do you punish the slow start? I’ll just keep him where he is for now.

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