I’ve updated my rankings for the month of June. Below you will find my new pound-for-pound top ten along with my analysis of major changes made to my top ten in each individual weight class.
Pound-for-Pound Top Ten
- Georges St. Pierre – St. Pierre avenged his loss to Serra in their rematch at UFC 83 but completely dominating him, just as he completely dominated Josh Koscheck in August and Matt Hughes in December. It wasn’t easy choosing him for this spot over Anderson Silva but physically, I don’t believe St. Pierre has a weakness while I still have questions about Silva’s wrestling.
- Anderson Silva - Silva was in trouble vs. Travis Lutter at UFC 67. While he still won the fight, he hasn’t been as untouchable in the UFC as some would have you believe (although, he’s been pretty damn close). After a so-so performance vs. Lutter, all Silva did was come back with convincing wins over Nathan Marquardt, Rich Franklin, and Dan Henderson.
- B.J. Penn – As much as I respect Rampage, I didn’t feel I could continue to rank him over Penn if Penn was going out there and taking on an active schedule and putting up dominant wins over top contenders. Maybe Jens Pulver was no longer a top lightweight contender when Penn beat him last summer, but the same cannot be said for Joe Stevenson or Sean Sherk — and Penn wasn’t even close to being in trouble in either fight. For me, the cardio questions have been answered and Penn is fighting up to his potential. How can anyone deny him this ranking?
- Urijah Faber - The complaint that Faber wasn’t beating the top fighters in his class is no longer valid following back-to-back wins over Jeff Curran and Jens Pulver. Pulver took Faber the distance, but that’s more a testament to Pulver’s ability than a knock against Faber. Faber looked great in that fight and showed his striking prowess is beginning to rival his ability on the ground.
- Miguel Torres - Torres is the most underrated fighter in MMA and made a huge jump in my top 10 following his amazing win over Yoshiro Maeda. Torres’ grappling ability is world class but his striking also is world class as well. How do you gameplan for a fighter that is world class in every possible area a fight can go? I don’t think there is anyone at 135 pounds that can touch this guy right now.
- Quinton “Rampage” Jackson - It’s been a long time since Jackson last fought but I’m not going to penalize him for the UFC’s decision to put him on the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Coming off wins over Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson, I feel this spot is justified.
- Randy Couture - Inactivity is a growing concern and if Fedor had beaten a more credible opponent than Hong Man Choi, he would have supplanted Couture. “The Natural” hangs onto this spot for now, but if Emelianenko posts an impressive win over Tim Sylvia in July, it will be a non-brainer to move him ahead of Couture.
- Fedor Emelianenko – Does a win over Hong Man Choi qualify as activity? Technically it does but I will need to see him beat a credible opponent before moving him up. He’s scheduled to fight Tim Sylvia in July and Sylvia easily qualifies as Fedor’s toughest competition in nearly three years. Win or lose, Fedor’s ranking will not stay the same following that bout.
- Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto - Known for his amateur wrestling background, Yamamoto is also a threat with his hands. Following an impressive win over Rani Yahya on New Year’s Eve, it was easy to rank him here. What’s not so easy is figuring out what weight class to rank him in. Is he a featherweight, a bantamweight, or what?
- Lyoto Machida - With the loss by Gesias Calvancante to Shinya Aoki, it was tough to continue to justify his spot in my top ten pound-for-pound. The question was, who should I move up in his place? It was a question without an obvious answer up until Machida’s decisive win over Tito Ortiz at UFC 84. His resume is impressive, as he is undefeated and has wins over top ten fighters in my 185 lbs. and 205 lbs. rankings. From a pure fighting standpoint, Machida’s standup skills are strong and his ground skills are underrated. You may not like his fighting style, but you can’t deny the fact that he is without question one of the top fighters in the world.
CLICK HERE to view my top ten rankings in each individual weight class.Below is my analysis of notable changes I made to my rankings…
Based on their impressive performances during the last WEC event, I felt compelled to move both Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres up. If you question why I have them so high right now, you obviously didn’t see Torres defeat Yoshiro Maeda and you didn’t see Faber’s improved standup game vs. Jens Pulver.
Fabricio Werdum leapfrogged Tim Sylvia and Ben Rothwell due in part to his win over a credible opponent in Brandon Vera earlier this month couple with Sylvia and Rothwell’s recent inactivity. If Sylvia and Rothwell win their respective fights at Affliction, they’ll move ahead of Werdum.
Frank Trigg drops out due to inactivity and Jason Miller drops following his loss to Jacare during the DREAM middleweight GP. Miller didn’t look bad in the fight so I didn’t feel like he deserved to fall out of the top then completely. With Miller moving down, Kazuo Misaki moves up.
Replacing Trigg in the top ten is Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi’s all-around skills have looked improved during the first two rounds of the DREAM middleweight GP and wins over Denis Kang and Dong Sik Yoon carry some meaning.
I’m sticking to my guns: I said that Thiago Alves’ win over Matt Hughes at UFC 85 should be viewed as an exhibition victory since he was four pounds over at weigh-ins. As such, I still have Hughes as my number three welterweight. You will notice that I have moved Alves up, but that is not because of his win but because of Jay Hieron’s inactivity. If Hieron fights and wins before Alves’ next fight, he will supplant him.
I haven’t been happy with my featherweight rankings and I made wholesale changes this month.
Yoshiro Maeda is out following his June 1 loss to Miguel Torres. First, a loss is a loss, plus he competed at bantamweight. There are just too many good featherweights to keep Maeda in the top ten if he’s not 100% committed to competing at 145.
Masakazu Imanari falls because of his loss to Dokonjonosuke Mishima during Cage Rage’s last event. The win was high-profile enough that I felt compelled to debut Mishima in the top ten at featherweight. He was overwhelmed at 155 lbs. in the UFC but he could be a huge threat at 145.
Jeff Curran falls out of the top ten because he is now coming off back-to-back losses. There’s no shame in losing to Faber, but his loss to Mike Brown at the last WEC event has to hurt his standing.
Takeshi Inoue moves up simply because I felt I had him ranked too low. I penalized him too much for his upset loss to Trenell “Savant” Young during the May 3 Shooto show in Japan. Upon further review, I felt the win was big enough to move Young into my featherweight top ten. We’ll see if he belongs when he takes on Mark Hominick during Affliction’s debut show in July. Young was a solid lightweight for the IFL but he could be the most powerful puncher in the world at 145 lbs. Watch out.
Also, many people are going to ask me where Jens Pulver is. Well, after staying away from the featherweight division for so long, a 1-1 record at 145 lbs. in the past year isn’t enough to keep him in the top ten in spite of a solid showing vs. Faber. Featherweight is just too deep across the board to reward someone for a loss.