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Fightmania MMA Rankings: March 2011

By on March 30, 2011

Another month has gone by, and it’s time to revisit the rankings discussion. This month, the big story was Jon Jones soundly defeating number one light heavyweight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to win the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Did he take the top spot in my rankings as well? Read on to find out.

A word about my rankings: they aren’t presented as fact, and I encourage your feedback. First, though, please take a look at my rankings manifesto so you have some insight as to why I might rank one fighter over another. Also, keep in mind that this isn’t an exact science, though I’m more than happy to explain my rationale.

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

Benavidez, Faber, Bowles and Mizugaki were all in action this month, and all were successful against their opponents. Faber swaps with Benavidez not really because he was more impressive at UFC 128 than Benavidez was, but mostly because Faber now has two fights in the division and has shown me that he is as good at 135 lbs. as he ever was at 145. I just feel Bowles has looked better than Jorgensen lately, which is why I swapped those two.

Coming up, Torres will face Pickett at UFC 130 in a big fight for both men. The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale will feature Scott Jorgensen facing Ken Stone, and Demetrious Johnson will be in action, as well. Finally, Cruz and Faber will face off next, though Cruz is still recovering from hand surgery.

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

Dropped out: Raphael Assuncao (10)

The only action in my featherweight top ten this month included Raphael Assuncao, who was knocked out by Erik Koch and drops off the list. Dustin Poirier, who recently defeated Josh Grispi by decision at UFC 125, joins the group.

Aldo will finally make his UFC debut at UFC 129 against Mark Hominick, while Florian will make his featherweight debut against Nunes at UFC 131, where Omigawa will face Darren Elkins. Grispi will try to get back on track against George Roop at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. Gamburyan is still trying to recover from his back injury and has nothing slated at this time.

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

After a tumultuous February, the lightweight division was mercifully quiet this month. Jim Miller did beat Kamal Shalorus via TKO, and he moves up to eighth, while Guillard and Kawajiri each drop a spot to accommodate him. Miller is one of the most underrated fighters in MMA and could continue to surprise a lot of people. It’s a shame that he’s behind Gray Maynard and Anthony Pettis in line, because he’s certainly deserving of a title shot.

All of these fighters have upcoming fights, most notably Edgar and Maynard, who will fight for a third time at UFC 130. Melendez will take on Kawajiri next in Strikeforce, while Aoki will face the tough Lyle Beerbohm soon. In Bellator, Alvarez will face Pat Curran in his first title defense this weekend. Sotiropoulos will have a tough test against Evan Dunham at UFC 132, where Guillard will fight Shane Roller. Finally, Pettis will keep himself busy awaiting his title shot with a dangerous fight against Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale.

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

Another quiet month for the welterweights saw a controversial fight between Sanchez and Kampmann end with a decision victory for Sanchez, though many (myself included) didn’t see the fight going that way. It was a terrific fight, though, and only because Kampmann shows a habit of not fighting to his strengths and easing up late in fights does he drop below Condit, who moves up to the eighth spot.

St. Pierre-Shields will be the big story among these guys in April, though Diaz will also be in action against Paul Daley in what should be an entertaining scrap. Condit will face Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 131, and Alves will be fighting Rick Story soon. Fitch has unfortunately pulled out of his planned UFC 132 fight with Penn due to an unspecified injury, and we still don’t know who Penn would face as a result. Koscheck is still in recovery due to the broken eye orbital he sustained against GSP.


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

Dropped out: Alan Belcher

Marquardt defeated Dan Miller by unanimous decision in convincing fashion, even if he didn’t get the finish. He, Okami, and the rest of the division is still in stasis while we wait to see who Silva will face next. I suspect that will be decided on April 30, or else we’d have gotten an announcement about Silva’s next opponent already. I dropped Belcher from the list largely because he has been inactive for so long and his health has been such a concern. He has no fights planned still, and when he does come back we will have to see how he fares. Until now, I thought Hector Lombard, who just defeated Joe Doerksen and will face Falaniko Vitale in Bellator’s cage in a couple of months, was deserving of a spot.

Santiago will make his return to the UFC against Brian Stann at UFC 130. Sonnen is still entangled in his fraud case, Okami is waiting to see what will happen next for him, and there hasn’t been any news about Maia’s next fight.


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

Jones, of course, dominated Shogun on the way to winning his first UFC title. I thought long and hard about whether Jones should jump all the way to the top spot and decided that he should. The rest of the top tier of light heavyweights (which ends with Machida) have all shown weaknesses in recent fights that Jones has not. It could change, but for now Jones sure looks like the best light heavyweight in the world, as shocking as it may be.

I think Shogun would benefit from a better game plan next time around, and I wonder whether he will ever completely bounce back from all of his knee injuries. He’ll likely linger in the top ten for years to come, either way. Henderson added another title to his resume with a great knockout win over Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante and moves ahead of Griffin this month.

Evans will finally return to action against Jones once he is healthy and ready to go in what should be an excellent fight and a great test for both men. Rampage will apparently face Matt Hamill at UFC 130 in a bit of a head-scratcher, as planned opponent Thiago Silva can’t fight due to a tainted urine sample. Machida will have a big matchup against Randy Couture at UFC 129 in what will be more than a novelty fight, as Machida will be looking to avoid a third straight loss. Meanwhile, while Mousasi is still MIA, King Mo will fight against an unnamed opponent in June.


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
9. Frank Mir
10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Nobody in my top ten fought this month. Mir will face Roy Nelson in a fun fight at UFC 130, and TUF 13 coaches Lesnar and dos Santos will fight at UFC 131. Werdum should fight Overeem as part of Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix in June, and Carwin is eyeing a possible summer return. Nogueira is also hoping to return this summer from a total of three surgeries targeting his knee and both hips. Finally, Fedor is not retired and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker hopes to have him back in action this summer.

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

Dropped out: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (6)

Jones makes his debut in the pound-for-pound rankings at the seventh spot, though I suspect he will make his way up the list in the future, if his previous performances are any indication. Dominick Cruz moves up to Shogun’s former spot, as the former light heavyweight champ drops off the list.

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1 comment
  1. Mick Miller says:

    This is a pretty accurate ranking in my opinion. I don’t get Rashad being above Lyoto in the “Pound for Pound” class.

    Also I have been bewildered by the draw with Edgar and Maynard. I am a boxer from the 60’s & 70’s (26-3-1) and in a championship fight the unspoken rule in my time was that the challenger had to “clearly defeat” the Champion. In the event of a 10 point must bringing a draw the Win went to the Champion because of that standard. Isn’t MMA the same in a Title match?

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