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Fightmania March Rankings

By on March 30, 2013

georges st pierreWhile there was plenty of action this past month with two UFC events, three Bellator shows, the second installment of the World Series of Fighting and countless other events, most of the fights did not involve fighters in my rankings, making it a slow month movement-wise. The exception is the welterweight division, where three massive fights at UFC 158 shook things up a bit.

Remember, these rankings are obviously subjective, but there’s (mostly) a method to my madness. To read a rather extensive explanation of my methodology, check out the rankings manifesto.

FLYWEIGHT DIVISION (125 LBS.)

1. Demetrious Johnson
2. Joseph Benavidez
3. John Dodson
4. Ian McCall
5. Jussier Da Silva
6. Darrell Montague
7. Louis Gaudinot
8. John Lineker
9. John Moraga
10. Yasuhiro Urushitani

An injury to the champion, Johnson, nixed a proposed bout with Moraga at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. We don’t know yet whether Moraga will fight someone else or bide his time waiting for “Mighty Mouse” to mend. Benavidez will face Darren Uyenoyama at UFC on Fox 7 in April. Elsewhere, Lineker will fight Azamat Gashimov in May at UFC on FX 8, while Da Silva will take on Chris Cariaso that same night.

BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISION (135 LBS.)

1. Dominick Cruz
2. Renan Barao
3. Urijah Faber
4. Eddie Wineland
5. Michael McDonald
6. Scott Jorgensen
7. Brad Pickett
8. Bibiano Fernandes
9. Raphael Assuncao
10. Eduardo Dantas

With Cruz still recovering, the big fight here is Barao’s interim title defense against Wineland at UFC 161. The fight I’m most anticipating in this division, however, is Faber vs. Jorgensen, which is set to take place on April 13. Another great scrap in April places Pickett against Mike Easton at UFC on Fuel TV 9. Bibiano Fernandes will face the dreaded opponent “TBA” at One FC 9 at the end of May.

FEATHERWEIGHT DIVISION (145 LBS.)

1. Jose Aldo
2. Pat Curran
3. Frankie Edgar
4. Anthony Pettis (NR)
5. Chad Mendes (4)
6. Dennis Siver (5)
7. Ricardo Lamas (6)
8. Chan Sung Jung (7)
9. Cub Swanson (8)
10. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (9)

Dropped out: Dustin Poirier (10)

The only difference here is that I have decided to include Pettis in the featherweight rankings instead of the lightweight rankings, since he is facing Aldo for the title in August.

The action picks up in April, when Curran defends his Bellator title against Shahbulat Shamhalaev. Mendes was set to face Clay Guida at UFC on Fox 7, but Guida is injured and can’t compete. Later on, we’ve got a featherweight showcase at UFC 162, where Edgar will fight Charles Oliveira, while Lamas takes on Jung. Siver and Swanson will square off that night as well in a very exciting matchup. .

LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION (155 LBS.)

1. Benson Henderson
2. Gray Maynard
3. Gilbert Melendez (4)
4. Nate Diaz (5)
5. Michael Chandler (6)
6. Jim Miller (7)
7. Eddie Alvarez (8)
8. Donald Cerrone (9)
9. Joe Lauzon (10)
10. TJ Grant (NR)

Dropped out: Anthony Pettis (3), moved to featherweight

Plenty of matchups are coming up among these fighters. The big one is the showdown between Henderson and Melendez for Henderson’s UFC Lightweight Championship on April 20. Also at UFC on Fox 7, Nate Diaz will welcome the returning Josh Thomson to the Octagon, while Jim Miller will face the tough Strikeforce veteran Pat Healy at UFC 159. Newcomer Grant, who benefits from Pettis’ change to the featherweight division, will fight Maynard at UFC 160 in late May. The same night, Cerrone will fight KJ Noons. Dave Jansen will be the next contender for Chandler’s Bellator strap, though that won’t be happening for awhile now, as Jansen is fresh off his win over Marcin Held.

WELTERWEIGHT DIVISION (170 LBS.)

1. Georges St. Pierre
2. Johny Hendricks
3. Carlos Condit
4. Nick Diaz
5. Rory MacDonald
6. Demian Maia
7. Jake Ellenberger (10)
8. Jon Fitch (7)
9. Martin Kampmann
10. Tarec Saffiedine (NR)

Dropped out: Nate Marquardt (8)

Despite all the action in this division, the only real movement comes from the Ellenberger-Marquardt fight, as Ellenberger moves up three spots while Marquardt drops out, allowing the man who beat him in Strikeforce to enter the rankings at the tenth spot. Hendricks can obviously move no higher until he fights St. Pierre, while I don’t think Condit’s performance merits dropping him below the man he already beat, Diaz. I like MacDonald, but I’m not sure how he’d handle Diaz at this stage in his career. Come to think of it, that’d be a great fight.

St. Pierre should be fighting Hendricks next, but when that would happen is uncertain. Diaz is angling for a GSP rematch that has no chance whatsoever in happening. The only other fighter here with a bout scheduled is Fitch, who will make his World Series of Fighting debut this summer against former UFC fighter Josh Burkman.

MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION (185 LBS.)

1. Anderson Silva
2. Chris Weidman
3. Vitor Belfort
4. Yushin Okami
5. Mark Munoz
6. Luke Rockhold
7. Michael Bisping
8. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
9. Constantinos Philippou (9)
10. Alexander Shlemenko (NR)

Dropped out: Brian Stann (8)

Okami was his old self while defeating Hector Lombard, who has now lost two out of three UFC bouts. The only man in Bellator to go to a decision with Lombard, Shlemenko, enters the top ten as Stann exits after a KO loss to Wanderlei Silva. Shlemenko has now won ten in a row since the setback to Lombard. Later this spring, Belfort will welcome Rockhold to the UFC at May 18’s UFC on FX 8, the same event where Jacare will fight Philippou. Bisping will face Alan Belcher at UFC 159 in April. Munoz will try to get back on track against Boetsch at UFC 162 this summer, the same night that Silva will defend his middleweight title against Weidman.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION (205 LBS.)

1. Jon Jones
2. Lyoto Machida
3. Rashad Evans
4. Dan Henderson
5. Alexander Gustafsson
6. Chael Sonnen
7. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
8. Phil Davis
9. Gegard Mousasi
10. Glover Teixeira

Jones takes on Sonnen in what should be a one-sided fight for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on April 27. Davis will face elite grappler Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 159 in what should be a fun matchup. Whether Machida is truly next in line for a title shot will have a lot to do with the result of Gustafsson-Mousasi, happening the first week of April. Teixeira will take on James Te Huna at UFC 160 after an injury to Ryan Bader scrapped the original matchup. Shogun will take on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who is just outside of my top ten, at UFC 161. The big fight that night, however, will be between Evans and Henderson, both of whom put on disappointing performances in their last appearances.

HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION (265 LBS.)

1. Cain Velasquez
2. Junior dos Santos
3. Fabricio Werdum
4. Daniel Cormier
5. Antonio Silva
6. Alistair Overeem
7. Josh Barnett
8. Frank Mir
9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
10. Mark Hunt (NR)

Dropped out: Roy Nelson (10)

It may be hard to believe, but Hunt’s four-fight winning streak is the longest one going in the tumultuous UFC heavyweight division right now. Against steadily tougher competition, Hunt has risen to the occasion time and time again and in March, he stopped Stefan Struve in the third round with punches. He’ll now face a real task in the form of dos Santos, who he will fight at UFC 160.

Both would be more compelling challengers to Velasquez’s title than Silva, who will face him after being demolished by the now two-time champion just last May. Cormier will debut in the UFC against Frank Mir on Fox, which will expose casual fans to the former Olympian’s talents. Roy Nelson will take on fellow fringe competitor Cheick Kongo at UFC 159. This summer, we will see Nogueira take on Werdum at the conclusion of the second season of TUF: Brazil, in which the two will serve as coaches. Overeem and Barnett are both in limbo, as Overeem sustained an injury that took him out of his bout with dos Santos, while Barnett is still without a promotional home after Strikeforce closed its doors for good.

POUND-FOR-POUND (No Limit)

1. Anderson Silva
2. Jon Jones
3. Georges St. Pierre
4. Jose Aldo
5. Dominick Cruz
6. Demetrious Johnson
7. Frankie Edgar
8. Cain Velasquez
9. Benson Henderson
10. Lyoto Machida

Nothing happening here, as St. Pierre was the only representative in action during March. His dominant win over Diaz isn’t enough to put him over the phenomenal Jones, who has been just demolishing top contenders as the UFC’s 205-lb. champion.

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