Rankings: Dead heat

As the ballots came in for this month’s Top 10, so did similar comments about Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, and Georges St. Pierre. “Man, you could vote any of these three number one,” said one pollster. “You could rank these guys 1a, 1b and 1c,” wrote another.

That’s almost how things finished, as we have the first tie at the top in the 18-month history of the rankings. Silva led the poll since January 2008. But now he shares the top spot with the only other fighter who ever ruled the roost, Emelianenko. Both finished with 163 points And St. Pierre is just a half-step behind at 160.

Emelianenko fell out of No. 1 last year over concerns about his caliber of opposition. But he has since buzzsawed his way through two former UFC champions, submitting Tim Sylvia and knocking out Andrei Arlovski, both in the first round.

Now Silva is the one with strength of schedule concerns. Few considered Patrick Cote a credible challenger, and to make matters worse, their October match is best remembered for Silva’s clown antics, something you’d never see from Emelianenko or St. Pierre during a match. Next up for Silva is an April match with Thales Leites, whose most memorable win was a split decision over Nate Marquardt, in which Marquardt was docked two points for fouls.

And this doesn’t even begin to address that two middleweights held in higher regard than Cote and Leites, Robbie Lawler and Vitor Belfort, don’t even fight in the UFC.

As for St. Pierre, he stayed in third place after defeating B.J. Penn, but considerably closed the gap. It’s time to stop holding his upset loss to Matt Serra two years ago against him. St. Pierre has won his past 14 rounds and rung up more 10-8 rounds in that span than anyone else in the sport.

The vote breakdown: Emelianenko had seven first-place votes, five seconds and six thirds; Silva had six firsts, seven seconds and five thirds, and St. Pierre five firsts, six seconds and seven thirds.

This month, we welcome new pollster Ben Fowlkes of SI.com and the Cage Potato blog. For info on the entire Y! Sports MMA Top 10 panel, go here.

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.

10. Shinya Aoki

Points: 22

Affiliation: DREAM

Weight class: Lightweight

Hometown: Shizuoka City, Japan

Record: 19-3, 1 no-contest (won last two)

Last month’s ranking: unranked

Recent results: def. Eddie Alvarez, R1 submission, Dec. 31.

Analysis: The hottest homegrown star emerging in post-PRIDE Japan is finally getting his due.

9. Urijah Faber

Points: 23

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: Faber did the only thing he really could do in making quick work of the fading Pulver.

8. Quinton Jackson

Points: 55

Affiliation: UFC

Weight class: Light heavyweight

Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.

Record: 29-7 (won last one)

Last month’s ranking: 7

Most recent result: def. Wanderlei Silva, KO R1, Dec. 27

Analysis: Who deserves that next shot at Rashad Evans? It is worth noting the “Rampage” has slipped behind Lyoto Machida in these rankings.

7. Lyoto Machida

Points: 64

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: In case you thought all Machida can do is play the hit-and-run game, he took out one of the light heavyweight division’s heaviest hitters in Silva.

5 (tie). B.J. Penn

Points: 85

Affiliation: UFC

Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)

Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii

Record: 13-5-1 (lost past one)

Last month’s ranking: 4

Most recent result: lost to Georges St. Pierre, doctor stoppage after R4, Jan. 31

Analysis: Is St. Pierre really that much better than Penn, or was Saturday’s match simply the undisciplined Penn making his return?

5 (tie). Rashad Evans


Affiliation: UFC

Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)

Hometown: Lansing, Mich.

Record: 13-0-1 (won past three)

Last month’s ranking: unranked

Most recent result: def. Forrest Griffin, R3 TKO, Dec. 27

Analysis: Waiting on the winner of the March 7 Quinton Jackson-Keith Jardine match. A “Rampage” win means the former champ gets another crack at the crown; if Jardine wins, Machida likely gets the next title shot.

4. Miguel Angel Torres


Affiliation: WEC

Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)

Hometown: East Chicago, Ind.

Record: 35-1 (won past 16)

Last month’s ranking: 5

Most recent result: def. Manny Tapia, TKO R2, Dec. 3

Analysis: There’s at least one thing most voters agree on: 14 of the 18 panelists voted Torres fourth.

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: Consensus is that St. Pierre would have beaten Penn regardless whether his corner was caught rubbing Vaseline on his shoulders between rounds. But with such a tight race, you have to wonder if it cost GSP the top spot.

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

Most recent result: def. Patrick Cote, R3 TKO, Oct. 25

Analysis: Another question to ponder about Silva’s level of competition: Why hasn’t Yushin Okami gotten a title shot? Okami is 7-1 in the UFC, with his sole loss a decision to Rich Franklin. And certainly, it is going to be easier to sell Silva getting revenge for his last loss (even if their 2006 match was a questionable disqualification) than trying to convince the public that Leites is a threat.

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: 2

Most recent result: def. Andrei Arlovski, R1 KO, Jan. 24

Analysis: So, where does The Last Emperor go from here? The next logical matchup, if there is a third Affliction card, is Emelianenko vs. Josh Barnett. But Fedor proclaimed Barnett his BFF, and Barnett seemed a bit too eager to agree. Given Emelianenko’s struggles with Arlovski before connecting on his home run punch, a rematch isn’t out of the question either.


Votes for others: Thiago Alves 14; Forrest Griffin 7; Dan Henderson 6; Brock Lesnar 5; Mike Brown 3; Andrei Arlovski 2; Carlos Condit 1.

Upcoming matches for ranked fighters: No. 8 Quinton Jackson vs. Keith Jardine, March 7, Columbus.

MMAWeekly.com’s divisional rankings

Last month’s rankings

Dave Doyle is the boxing/MMA editor for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
Send Dave a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Wednesday, Feb 4, 2009