Rankings: Still crowded at the top

With the top three on the sidelines last month, there were no changes at the top of the Y! Sports Top 10 pound-for-pound list.

All 18 ballots were the same at the top in February as they were in January. WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko and UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva remained tied at the top with 163 points. Emelianenko had seven first-place votes to Silva’s six, but Silva made up the ground with more second-place votes. Georges St. Pierre again finished third with 160 points (five first-place votes).

Those ballots likely will stay the same until Anderson Silva defends his title against Thales Leites in the main event of UFC 97 on April 18. With Leites not considered the strongest foe Silva has faced, the onus is on the champ to put together a decisive win if he wants to keep his spot at the top.

Votes are tabulated with 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for a second-place vote, etc., down to one point for a 10th-place vote. Fighters who have not fought for more than 12 months (like Japanese standout Norifumi Yamamoto) are ineligible until after their next match; fighters under suspension for performance-enhancing drugs or drugs of abuse are ineligible for the duration of their suspensions.

For info on the entire Y! Sports MMA Top 10 panel, go here.

10. Urijah Faber
Points: 19
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Featherweight
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
Record: 22-2 (won last one)
Last month’s ranking: 9
Most recent result: def. Jens Pulver, R1 TKO, Jan. 25
Analysis: Mike Brown, the man who beat Faber for the title in November, blitzed Leonard Garcia in his first title defense on March 1. But he still couldn’t pass Faber in the rankings.

9. Shinya Aoki
Points: 22
Affiliation: DREAM
Weight class: Lightweight
Hometown: Shizuoka City, Japan
Record: 20-3, 1 no-contest (won last three)
Last month’s ranking: 10
Recent results: def. David Gardner, R1 submission, March 8.
Analysis: Was fed an easy victory in Gardner.

8. Quinton Jackson
Points: 52
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Record: 30-7 (won last two)
Last month’s ranking: 8
Most recent result: def. Keith Jardine, unanimous decision, March 7
Analysis: Rampage has won six of his past seven against a who’s who of light heavyweights, and he’ll be rested and healed by the time he finally fights for the light heavyweight title.

7. Lyoto Machida
Points: 69
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Belem, Brazil
Record: 14-0
Last month’s ranking: 7
Most recent results: def. Thiago Silva, R1 TKO, Jan. 31
Analysis: Will get his well-earned title shot against Rashad Evans on May 23.

6. Rashad Evans
Points:83
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Lansing, Mich.
Record: 13-0-1 (won past three)
Last month’s ranking: 5 (tie)
Most recent result: def. Forrest Griffin, R3 TKO, Dec. 27
Analysis: With one of the most multifaceted games in the entire light heavyweight division, Evans’ chance at solving the Machida puzzle seems better than most.

5. B.J. Penn
Points: 84
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 13-5-1 (lost past one)
Last month’s ranking: 5 (tie)
Most recent result: lost to Georges St. Pierre, doctor stoppage after R4, Jan. 31
Analysis: Penn turned down a UFC 99 date against Kenny Florian and filed a protest against Georges St. Pierre, suggesting his mind isn’t yet back on fighting.

4. Miguel Angel Torres
Points:122
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: East Chicago, Ind.
Record: 35-1 (won past 16)
Last month’s ranking: 4
Most recent result: def. Manny Tapia, TKO R2, Dec. 3
Analysis: Brian Bowles had to drop out of their April 5 match, so Torres will face Takeya Mizugaki, a Shooto and Cage Force vet who has been making short work of recent opponents.

3. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 160 (five first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 18-2 (won past five)
Last month’s ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. B.J. Penn, doctor stoppage after R4, Jan. 31
Analysis: With Greasegate all but put past him, St. Pierre is in some much-deserved downtime before preparing for Thiago Alves.

1 (tie). Anderson Silva
Points: 163 (6 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 23-4 (won past nine)
Last month’s ranking: 1 (tie)
Most recent result: def. Patrick Cote, R3 TKO, Oct. 25
Analysis: Needs a convincing win over Thales Leites if he’s going to stay on top.

1 (tie). Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 163 (7 first-place votes)
Affiliation: Affliction/M-1 (WAMMA heavyweight champion)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 29-1, one no-contest (won past 10)
Last month’s ranking: 1 (tie)
Most recent result: def. Andrei Arlovski, R1 KO, Jan. 24
Analysis: Now comes one of those long delays where we wait to find out who Fedor will face next, where, and in which promotion.

More

Votes for others: Mike Brown 19; Thiago Alves 9; Dan Henderson, Brock Lesnar 6; Forrest Griffin, Andrei Arlovski 2.

Upcoming matches for ranked fighters: No. 4 Miguel Torres vs. Takeya Mizugazi, April 5, Chicago; No. 1 (tie) Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites, April 19, Montreal.

MMAWeekly.com’s divisional rankings

Last month’s rankings

Dave Doyle is the boxing/MMA editor for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
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Updated Friday, Mar 13, 2009