|04-07-2010, 12:31 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Sherdog's Official Mixed Martial Arts Rankings
Sherdog's official mixed martial arts rankings
1. Fedor Emelianenko
(31-1, 1 NC)
It seemed fairly straightforward that Emelianenko would stake his heavyweight supremacy against Brazilian Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce’s second CBS offering on April 17. However, a contract squabble between Strikeforce and M-1, which represents Emelianenko, means early summer is the likely time for the bout.
2. Brock Lesnar
While no one knows exactly how Lesnar will look in his return to the cage after his bout with diverticulitis, we do know his foe. Come July 3, he will take on Shane Carwin to unify the UFC heavyweight mantle in what should be a blockbuster match for the UFC.
3. Cain Velasquez
Whether one wants to call it a passing of the torch or a coming-out party, Velasquez’s performance against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 110 was short and brutal. In less than half a round, Velasquez destroyed one of MMA’s most historically outstanding heavyweights in easily his most impressive performance to date.
It took almost four minutes -- an eternity by his usual standards -- but at UFC 111 in Newark, N.J., Carwin blew off Frank Mir’s doors in the first round to claim the UFC interim heavyweight title. However, the real championship will be contested July 3, when Carwin meets Brock Lesnar at UFC 116.
5. Frank Mir
Mir entered his March 27 bout with Shane Carwin as a slight betting favorite. However, he looked none the part in the cage, as Carwin bashed him with left hands in the clinch and decimated the former UFC champion to take the promotion’s interim title. With it, Carwin took Mir’s chance for a rubber match with Brock Lesnar.
6. Junior dos Santos
Dos Santos’ March 21 bout with Gabriel Gonzaga was supposed to be a sterner test for the hot Brazilian prospect. However, it was business as usual for “Cigano,” who used his boxing ability to turn out the lights on “Napao” and firmly entrench himself in the UFC heavyweight title race.
7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
(32-6-1, 1 NC)
“Minotauro” had an army of backers who felt the former Pride and UFC heavyweight champion would put on a vintage performance against Cain Velasquez at UFC 110. However, post-fight discussion centered on whether or not Nogueira still has the physical tools to hang with young, elite heavyweights after Velasquez polished him off in a little more than two minutes.
8. Brett Rogers
Despite the fact that Rogers was taken out by Fedor Emelianenko in November, “The Grim” will get the chance to vie for the Strikeforce heavyweight crown on May 15. Rogers will take on champion Alistair Overeem, who makes his long-awaited return to the promotion after capturing its heavyweight title in November 2007.
9. Andrei Arlovski
The former UFC champion has not seen action since June, when he lasted just 22 seconds against Brett Rogers. However, Arlovski has inked a deal with Strikeforce that will get him back into the cage soon. “The Pitbull” will take on Antonio Silva on May 15 in St. Louis.
10. Fabricio Werdum
Werdum will have to wait another couple of months to fight for MMA’s heavyweight mantle. He expected to meet heavyweight kingpin Fedor Emelianenko in April, but the Russian’s contract dispute with Strikeforce means that “Vai Cavalo” will have to sit pretty until the early summer.
1. Lyoto Machida
The rematch will happen a few months later than expected. Now that Machida’s hand has fully healed, the UFC light heavyweight champion will take on fellow Brazilian Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on May 8 in Montreal in a rematch of their controversial October encounter.
2. Mauricio Rua
Though Rua would undoubtedly have preferred to get his rematch with Lyoto Machida in January, “Shogun” will have his chance to right what many observers see as one of 2009’s most egregious wrongs at UFC 113 on May 8 in Montreal.
3. Quinton Jackson
As expected, Jackson’s bite from the acting bug has healed, and he has decided to head back to the fight game. “Rampage” will square off with Rashad Evans at UFC 114 on May 29, finally wrapping up the 10th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
4. Rashad Evans
In the headliner of UFC 108, Evans did enough to outpoint Thiago Silva but underwhelmed onlookers. More will be expected come May 29, when he gets his date with rival Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 114.
5. Forrest Griffin
Griffin got back on the horse in November, earning a well-deserved decision win over Tito Ortiz in a rematch of their April 2006 bout. However, the road will get tougher for the former light heavyweight king on May 29, when he takes on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 114 in Las Vegas.
6. Gegard Mousasi
Mousasi will be back on American network television when Strikeforce returns to CBS on April 17. “The Dreamcatcher” will defend his Strikeforce light heavyweight crown against unbeaten amateur wrestling star Muhammed Lawal in one of the most anticipated bouts of early 2010.
7. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
“Minotoro” turned in one of the most impressive Octagon debuts in recent memory in November, blowing away heavy-hitting prospect Luis Arthur Cane in less than two minutes. Now in the stream of contenders, Nogueira can creep closer to the top of the division when he takes on Forrest Griffin at UFC 114 on May 29.
8. Thiago Silva
Silva carried a back injury into his Jan. 2 bout with Rashad Evans, and it showed in an uninspired performance. Now healed and back in the gym, Silva eyes a summer return to the Octagon.
9. Luis Cane
(10-2, 1 NC)
Cane was blown out in less than two minutes in November when he met Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. His return to the Octagon will present another major challenge on the feet. Come UFC 114 on May 29, “Banha” will meet dangerous French striker Cyrille Diabate, who makes his UFC debut.
10. Ryan Bader
Bader remained unbeaten at UFC 110, acing his jump in competition. Though his win over Keith Jardine did not come easily, “The Ultimate Fighter 8” light heavyweight winner stepped up big in the third round, clobbering “The Dean of Mean” with a left hook that put him down and out.
1. Anderson Silva
Despite Vitor Belfort bowing out to injury, Silva’s April 10 title defense in the United Arab Emirates will still come against a fellow Brazilian. At UFC 112, Silva will stake his middleweight mantle and pound-for-pound supremacy against Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia. One can only hope the bout plays out more interestingly than when Silva fought a grappling ace last April.
2. Dan Henderson
Henderson was MMA’s highest-profile free agent, if only for a moment. Now, he has become one of the major drawing cards for Strikeforce. He will make his promotional debut on CBS in a middleweight title fight against defending champion Jake Shields on April 17.
3. Chael Sonnen
A consistent underdog against all the elite middleweight opposition he faced, Sonnen has continued to excel, knocking off Paulo Filho, Dan Miller, Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt. Sonnen’s upset triumph over Marquardt has likely earned him the next crack at the UFC middleweight title, once Anderson Silva and Demian Maia square off in April.
4. Nate Marquardt
Marquardt’s UFC 109 bout with Chael Sonnen was supposed to serve as a perfunctory setup for another UFC middleweight title shot. Instead, Sonnen’s takedowns were far too much for Marquardt, who dropped a unanimous decision and will have to wait for a second crack at the UFC 185-pound crown.
5. Demian Maia
Vitor Belfort’s loss is the Maia’s gain. When Belfort was forced out of his scheduled bout with Anderson Silva at UFC 112, there was a paucity of options to take his place. Coming off his February win over former International Fight League champion Dan Miller, Maia will now step in to face his fellow Brazilian and challenge for the UFC’s middleweight crown on April 10.
6. Vitor Belfort
Belfort was scheduled to get the next crack at pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva’s middleweight throne. However, a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery has bumped “The Phenom” out of a title shot in an intensifying 185-pound division, with no guarantees he will get another chance to face Silva.
7. Jake Shields
On Strikeforce’s first CBS venture in October, Shields earned the promotion’s middleweight crown with a five-round decision win over Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Strikeforce’s second live network effort on April 17 will see the Cesar Gracie product enter his first title defense as an underdog, as he takes on Pride and UFC veteran Dan Henderson.
8. Yushin Okami
Okami was expected to beat Lucio Linhares in their March 31 affair. However, he took the extra step normally absent in his bouts and really put on a show, bashing Linhares’ face to force a second-round stoppage and offering a more enjoyable fight to the lay fan.
9. Jorge Santiago
Santiago was one of MMA’s hottest fighters heading into November, when he was embarrassed in his non-title bout with Mamed Khalidov. However, Santiago put on a champion’s performance in the rematch, winning a well-appointed unanimous decision over five rounds to avenge his humbling defeat to the Chechen.
10. Mamed Khalidov
After whacking Jorge Santiago in their non-title affair in November, many expected the native Chechen to walk away with Sengoku’s middleweight crown on March 7. Instead, Santiago used his grappling ability to ground and outlast Khalidov, as he retained his title.
1. Georges St. Pierre
For five rounds, St. Pierre beat on Dan Hardy and cranked on his arms at UFC 111. However, the welterweight king failed to get “The Outlaw” out of the Octagon. With his third five-round decision win in his last four bouts, St. Pierre has become a target of criticism from many for his inability to polish off his challengers.
2. Jon Fitch
(22-3, 1 NC)
For the second time, Fitch’s rematch with Thiago Alves fell apart. Fortunately for Fitch, he fought at UFC 111. In his usual fashion, Fitch pounded out a clear-cut if not thrilling decision over American Top Team’s Ben Saunders to push his UFC record to 12-1.
3. Thiago Alves
Just when it finally seemed like Alves would get the chance to avenge his June 2006 loss to Jon Fitch, an irregularity in his pre-fight MRI nixed the bout. A successful angiogram will hopefully clear the “Pitbull” to fight again. With any luck, a third attempt at a rematch between Fitch and Alves will not fall apart in the future.
4. Dan Hardy
(23-7, 1 NC)
Hardy lost all five rounds in his March 27 title match against Georges St. Pierre. However, despite a nasty armbar and kimura from “Rush,” Hardy remained unbowed in defeat and perhaps extracted a measure of respect from a previously skeptical public regarding his status in the welterweight division.
5. Paulo Thiago
Thiago entered his bout at UFC 109 with Mike Swick, once again, as an underdog. Once again, Thiago blew away an American Kickboxing Academy product, choking Swick out cold in the second round to prove definitively that his victory over Josh Koscheck was no fluke. Next comes a UFC 115 matchup with Martin Kampmann.
6. Josh Koscheck
Despite his evolution since appearing on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Koscheck has yet to challenge for the UFC welterweight crown. In order to earn that right, he will need to take out fast-rising British star Paul Daley at UFC 113 on May 8.
7. Paul Daley
In his first two UFC outings, Daley blew the doors off quality fighters in Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett. Now, a UFC welterweight title shot may hang in the balance when he takes on Josh Koscheck at UFC 113 on May 8 in what amounts to a de facto championship eliminator.
8. Mike Swick
Coming off of a disappointing decision loss to Dan Hardy in November, Swick’s bout with Paulo Thiago at UFC 109 left him in even worse shape. He was choked unconscious in the second round and pushed further back in the UFC welterweight title picture.
9. Nick Diaz
(21-7, 1 ND)
Diaz captured the Strikeforce welterweight crown on Jan. 30 in a highly entertaining slugfest with Dream champion Marius Zaromskis. Now, the major question for Diaz boils down to whether his next opponent will be fan-desired challenger Jay Hieron or Japanese veteran Hayato “Mach” Sakurai.
10. Martin Kampmann
Kampmann was scheduled to get back in the saddle against rising contender Ben Saunders at UFC 111 on March 27. However, a nasty gash on the Dane’s eyelid nixed the bout. Kampmann will instead meet Paulo Thiago at UFC 115.
1. B.J. Penn
After his destruction of Diego Sanchez in December, fans have all but given up hope of seeing Penn seriously threatened by another UFC lightweight. However, “The Prodigy” is due for at least one more title defense, and he will take on Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 on April 10.
2. Shinya Aoki
(23-4, 1 NC)
Despite having one of MMA's deepest resumes, many fans and critics alike remain skeptical of Aoki’s stature as the sport’s No. 2 lightweight. The Dream lightweight champ will have the chance to show up his skeptics on April 17, when he makes his stateside debut against Gilbert Melendez. The fight will air live on CBS with the Strikeforce title on the line.
3. Eddie Alvarez
In April, Bellator will kick off its second lightweight tournament to find a challenger for 155-pound champion Alvarez. In the meantime, the Philadelphian will meet UFC veteran Josh Neer in a 160-pound catchweight affair in May to stay busy.
4. Kenny Florian
Takanori Gomi was already Shooto world champion when Florian made his professional MMA debut, but it was “Ken Flo” who looked like the real veteran in their March 31 encounter. Florian dominated the former Pride star with his jab before polishing him off in the third round with a rear-naked choke, solidifying his status in the lightweight division.
5. Tatsuya Kawajiri
It was not a barnburner, but Kawajiri’s New Year’s Eve performance against a tough and underrated Kazunori Yokota was thorough and dominant. However, the real fight for the “Crusher” continues to be a potential showdown with Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki.
6. Gray Maynard
(9-0, 1 NC)
Maynard won his Jan. 11 bout with Nate Diaz, but the controversial split decision to punctuate a lackluster fight was not enough to earn him the favor of fans and UFC brass. That means “The Bully” will continue to wait for a crack at the UFC lightweight crown.
7. Frankie Edgar
The winner by default due to the lackluster Gray Maynard-Nate Diaz bout, Edgar has won the right to next vie for the UFC lightweight crown. “The Answer” will take on divisional ruler B.J. Penn at UFC 112 on April 10 in the United Arab Emirates.
8. Gilbert Melendez
In December, Melendez turned in the best performance of his career, outlasting Josh Thomson over five rounds to avenge his June 2008 loss. The stakes get even higher for Melendez on April 17. He will defend his Strikeforce crown against Dream lightweight king Shinya Aoki live on CBS.
9. Sean Sherk
Sherk’s injury woes continue. After pulling out of multiple fights in the last few months, another undisclosed injury forced him out of a potential bout with Clay Guida that was set for UFC on Versus 1 on March 21.
10. Mizuto Hirota
Hirota expects to be back at full capacity soon following his New Year’s Eve arm-breaking debacle against Shinya Aoki. He eyes a July return, but due to his injury, Hirota opted to return the Sengoku lightweight title that he won last August and never got a chance to defend.
1. Jose Aldo (16-1)
A fitting headliner for the first WEC pay-per-view, Aldo will risk his featherweight title and 145-pound alpha status against former champ Urijah Faber at WEC 48 on April 24. Aldo’s first title defense will come on hostile grounds in front of a pro-Faber crowd in Sacramento, Calif.
2. Mike Thomas Brown (23-5)
Brown’s quick return to the cage on Jan. 10 was successful, as he easily tapped Anthony Morrison in the first round. Brown’s next assignment will be considerably tougher, as he meets Manny Gamburyan at WEC 48 on April 24.
3. Urijah Faber (23-3)
Faber will have another chance to regain featherweight supremacy April 24 in front of a partisan Sacramento, Calif., crowd at the Arco Arena, as he headlines the WEC’s first pay-per-view. However, not all favors Faber. He will have to deal with the division’s dynamic champion, Jose Aldo.
4. Bibiano Fernandes (8-2)
In the first defense of the Dream featherweight title he captured last October, Fernandes did enough to earn a split decision victory over former Dream lightweight champion Joachim Hansen. He kept his title and notched easily the biggest win of his blossoming career.
5. Raphael Assuncao (14-2)
In his first elite-level test, Assuncao was game but outmatched against former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber at WEC 46, eventually succumbing to “The California Kid” late in the third frame. It was just the second loss of Assuncao’s career, following his highly controversial majority decision loss to Jeff Curran in November 2006.
6. Michihiro Omigawa (9-8-1)
On April 25 in Tokyo, Omigawa’s mentor, Hidehiko Yoshida, will call it a career on his farewell Astra card. On the undercard, however, Omigawa will try to continue his impressive featherweight run when he takes on WEC veteran Micah Miller in the event’s most outstanding bout.
7. Hatsu Hioki (20-4-2)
From his professional debut as a 19-year-old, Hioki was always tabbed as a future Shooto world champion. On May 30, the Nagoya native will get his chance when he squares off with Shooto’s 143-pound ace, Takeshi Inoue, at “The Way of Shooto 3,” with the title on the line.
8. Manny Gamburyan (10-4)
When he cut from 155 to 145 pounds, it was anticipated that Gamburyan would be a shoo-in title challenger. In order to get that opportunity, he will have to deal with former divisional champion Mike Thomas Brown when the pair squares off at WEC 48 on April 24.
9. Masanori Kanehara (16-7-5)
A nagging knee injury kept Kanehara off of Sengoku’s March 7 card. However, with Marlon Sandro’s brutal starching of his training partner, Tomonari Kanomata, Kanehara’s first defense of his Sengoku featherweight crown may come at the promotion’s next event on June 20.
10. Marlon Sandro (16-1)
Sandro’s latest trip to the Sengoku ring was ephemeral to say the least. It took the Nova Uniao product just nine seconds to clobber Tomonari Kanomata, putting the Japanese veteran on a stretcher. Despite his BJJ pedigree, it was Sandro’s third brutal knockout in his last four bouts.
Other contenders: L.C. Davis, Josh Grispi, Takeshi Inoue, Mackens Semerzier, Deividas Taurosevicius.
1. Dominick Cruz (15-1)
No one doubted Cruz was a worthwhile challenger to Brian Bowles’ WEC title, but few saw a road to victory for the once-beaten bantamweight. On the back of his speedy jab and low kicks, Cruz battered Bowles for 10 lopsided minutes until a broken hand halted the West Virginian and gave Cruz the WEC crown and bantamweight supremacy.
2. Brian Bowles (8-1)
In his first title defense, Bowles was a step behind Dominick Cruz throughout. After two rounds of one-way action, he bowed out when a doctor examined his broken right hand.
3. Joseph Benavidez (12-1)
Not many gave Benavidez a serious shot at knocking off former 135-pound kingpin Miguel Torres. At WEC 47, Benavidez shamed his doubters, leaving Torres a bloody mess before guillotining him in the second stanza. Whether the win earns Benavidez his crack at the WEC title remains to be seen, but there’s no challenger more deserving.
4. Miguel Torres (37-3)
A matter of months ago, Torres was seen as the king of the bantamweights and a pound-for-pound stalwart. Now, after tapping out to Joseph Benavidez in the second round of their March 6 bout, Torres has two consecutive humbling losses and a scar in the middle of his forehead courtesy of Benavidez to boot.
5. Scott Jorgensen (9-3)
In past performances, Jorgensen has shown off his figure-four grip guillotine, which he has dubbed “the death choke.” At WEC 47, he showed off a brutal 10-finger variety of the guillotine, crushing Chad George in a mere 31 seconds and inserting himself more prominently into the WEC title picture.
6. Takeya Mizugaki (12-4-2)
The bantamweight division is in a clear state of flux. If Mizugaki wants to keep pace with the likes of Dominick Cruz, Joseph Benavidez and Scott Jorgensen, he will need an impressive victory at WEC 48 on April 24. There, he takes on grappling all-star Rani Yahya on the event’s undercard.
7. Damacio Page (15-4)
Page has recovered from shoulder surgery, and the now-healthy Greg Jackson product has landed on the main card of the WEC’s first pay-per-view effort on April 24. At WEC 48, “The Angel of Death” will take on fellow bantamweight slugger Antonio Banuelos in a bout tabbed for violence.
8. Rani Yahya (15-5)
Following an unceremonious 95-second loss to Joseph Benavidez in December, Yahya’s road to another WEC bantamweight title shot has gotten no easier. To avoid losing two in a row, the grappling ace will need to deal with Japanese standout Takeya Mizugaki on the undercard of the WEC 48 pay-per-view on April 24.
9. Shuichiro Katsumura (11-7-3)
The most unlikely Shooto world champion to date, Katsumura pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of 2010 when he choked out Masakatsu Ueda and took the Shooto 132-pound world title on March 22. The victory was Katsumura’s third straight since returning from a two-year layoff in 2009.
10. Masakatsu Ueda (10-1-2)
On paper, Ueda’s fourth Shooto world title defense was his easiest to date. Instead, the standout wrestler had no answer for the slick submission game of veteran Shuichiro Katsumura. Ueda was choked out in the second round of their March 22 bout, losing his unbeaten record and his Shooto crown.
Other contenders: Antonio Banuelos, Cole Escovedo, Wagnney Fabiano, Charlie Valencia, Eddie Wineland.
* With the entry of Shuichiro Katsumura, previously 10th-ranked Eddie Wineland falls to the contenders list.
1. Jussier da Silva (3-0)
After upsetting Shooto world champion Shinichi “BJ” Kojima in a non-title affair in July, it was expected “Formiga” would be brought back for a year-end title rematch. However, those prospects are in limbo as da Silva’s management and pro Shooto promoters haggle over purse figures for the Natalense fighter.
2. Shinichi Kojima (10-4-5)
Kojima’s Shooto world title run had effectively been on the rocks since July, when he was dominated in a non-title affair against Jussier da Silva. “BJ” officially ended his title reign in March, though, vacating the Shooto world title due to a knee injury and freeing up the Shooto 123-pound title picture.
3. Mamoru Yamaguchi (23-5-3)
After a decade-long career in which he had never fought outside of Shooto sanctioning, Yamaguchi headed to King of the Cage in Okinawa and bulldozed previously unbeaten Frank Baca for a second-round submission victory. The win gave Yamaguchi the KOTC 125-pound title and a new window of opportunity later in his pioneering career.
4. Yuki Shojo (10-5-2)
In a more entertaining outing than his September majority points win over Junya Kudo, Shojo picked up a lopsided unanimous decision victory over tough Guam product Jesse Taitano on March 22 to keep pace in the Shooto 123-pound division.
5. Yasuhiro Urushitani (16-4-6)
After two unsuccessful bids to win the Shooto 123-pound world title in 2003 and 2007, will the third time be the charm for Urushitani? On May 30, he will square off with Ryuichi Miki, whom he defeated last September, for the title that Shinichi “BJ” Kojima vacated in March.
6. Ryuichi Miki (10-3-3)
Miki owns a 0-1-1 record against Yasuhiro Urushitani. “The Way of Shooto 3” on May 30 represents Miki’s chance to finally put a tally in the win column. Better still, if he does so, he will walk out of JCB Hall in Tokyo as the fourth 123-pound world champion of pro Shooto.
7. Pat Runez (4-0)
Showing savvy far beyond his actual MMA experience, Runez overcame an early shellacking from John Dodson to take a well-earned split decision win on Oct. 3, as he claimed the Ultimate Warrior Challenge flyweight title in what was the most significant 125-pound bout to date outside of Japan.
8. Kiyotaka Shimizu (5-3-1)
Less than two years ago, Shimizu began a professional career that started 0-2-1. In the last 10 months, Shimizu holds a 5-1 mark, and on Feb. 7, he upset Mitsuhisa Sunabe to claim the featherweight King of Pancrase title. Coincidentally, it was Sunabe who defeated Shimizu in his pro debut in April 2008.
9. Mitsuhisa Sunabe (11-6-3)
In a close, competitive contest, Sunabe lost his featherweight King of Pancrase title to Kiyotaka Shimizu. The bout was the second meeting between the two fighters, with Sunabe winning the first in April 2008. With a relative lack of new contenders in the Pancrase flyweight division, a rubber match between the two may not be far off.
10. Masaaki Sugawara (9-4-1)
On a card full of flyweight action, Masaaki Sugawara will take main event duties on the April 24 “Gig Tokyo 4” card. In the headliner, he squares off with rising prospect and 2008 Shooto rookie champion Fumihiro Kitahara.
Other contenders: John Dodson, Isao Hirose, Fumihiro Kitahara, Ayumu Shioda, Alexis Vila.