Rankings: Fallout after month of big fights
Never in the yearlong history of the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound Top 10 poll has there been a month like the one that just passed.
Three of the last month’s top four fighters competed in high-profile main events, and each looked dominant.
Last month’s No. 1, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, stepped up to light heavyweight on July 19 in Las Vegas and crushed James Irvin with a TKO in just 1:01.
Georges St. Pierre, July’s No. 2 ranked fighter, defended his UFC welterweight title on Aug. 9 against Jon Fitch and put on what, from a scorecard perspective, was the second-most lopsided performance in UFC title history. The combined 19-point margin on the scores (50-43, 50-44, 50-44) was surpassed only by the 23-point differential Rich Franklin laid on David Loiseau in their middleweight title match at UFC 58 (50-43, 50-42, 50-42).
And former No. 4 Fedor Emelianenko didn’t take long in reminding fans why he is the most dominant heavyweight in mixed martial arts history. The Russian’s 36-second tail-kicking of two-time former UFC heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia at Affliction: Banned in Anaheim, Calif., was one of the most efficient displays of skill and striking power ever displayed on these shores.
In the end, though, Emelianenko’s beatdown wasn’t enough to knock Silva off his perch. Silva took 10 first-place votes and finished with 134 points, which keeps him atop the poll for the eighth straight month. Emelianenko jumped from fourth to second with 119 points, including the other four first-place votes.
In addition to his 10 first-place votes, Silva garnered two second-place votes and two thirds. Emelianenko’s other votes broke down to four second-place finishes, three thirds, one fourth and one sixth.
St. Pierre finds himself in the odd position of dropping a spot despite his performance against Fitch. He dropped from second to third with 117 points after taking six seconds, five thirds and three fourths.
For info on the Y! Sports MMA Top 10 panel, go here.
10. Quinton Jackson
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Record: 28-7 (lost past one)
Last month’s ranking: 9
Most recent result: lost to Forrest Griffin, unanimous decision, July 5
Analysis: “Rampage” still is ranked, but he faces an uncertain future after his well-publicized escapades in Orange County last month. There have been murmurs of a potential match with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, but rushing Jackson back in the octagon before his legal situation is cleared up would be a disservice to the fighter and reflect poorly on the UFC.
9. Randy Couture
Affiliation: Under contract to UFC
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Gresham, Ore.
Record: 16-8 (won past two)
Last month’s ranking: 10
Most recent results: def. Gabriel Gonzaga, Round 3 TKO, Aug. 25
Analysis: The Y! Sports poll has a one-year inactivity clause. Fighters who go 12 months without competing are ineligible for consideration until they next square off. This is the last month of eligibility for the 45-year-old Couture, whose back-and-forth legal issues with his employer continues to creak its way through our nation’s oh-so-efficient court system.
8. Forrest Griffin
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Las Vegas
Record: 16-4 (won past two)
Last month’s ranking: 8
Most recent result: def. Quinton Jackson, unanimous decision, July 5
Analysis: Griffin is taking a well-deserved break after his title win. The Sept. 6 Chuck Liddell-Rashad Evans match in Atlanta is just step one in a chain of events over the next several months that will determine his next opponent.
7. Miguel Angel Torres
Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: E. Chicago, Ind.
Record: 34-1 (won past 15)
Last month’s ranking: 7
Most recent result: def. Yoshiro Maeda, TKO R3, June 1
Analysis: Not many fighters boast near-flawless, world-class skills in as many aspects of the game as Torres. While he finally has experienced his breakthrough year and gotten his time in the national spotlight, it could be that the bantamweight division’s relatively low profile is the only thing keeping Torres from placing higher on the list.
6. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Weight class: Heavyweight (UFC interim heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil
Record: 31-4-1 (won past 3)
Last month’s ranking: 6
Recent results: def. Tim Sylvia, R3 submission, Feb. 2
Analysis: Sorry, folks, there just isn’t a whole lot to add when a fighter sits out for nearly a year. Frank Mir will be a prohibitive underdog when the two finally meet, and unless the UFC does an about-face and brings Couture or Emelianenko into the fold, it isn’t hard to imagine Big Nog enjoying a long reign as champion.
5. Urijah Faber
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
Record: 21-1 (won past 13)
Last month’s ranking: 5
2007 results: def. Jens Pulver, unanimous decision, June 1
Analysis: Given the way Faber has torn through the competition, there might be a temptation to dismiss his next foe, Mike Brown, whom Faber meets Sept. 10. But that would be a mistake. While Brown isn’t as well known as Jens Pulver, the American Top Team standout has won 10 of his past 11 fights, including seven in a row, a streak that includes victories over Yves Edwards and Jeff Curran.
4. B.J. Penn
Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 13-4-1 (won past three)
Last month’s ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. Sean Sherk, R3 TKO, May 24
Analysis: If there were any doubt left that Penn wants a piece of Georges St. Pierre, the UFC lightweight champion made sure everyone noticed him on the floor at UFC 87. Penn was seen at cageside openly rooting for the Quebecker, then jumped into the octagon and grabbed the microphone. While there’s no dispute St. Pierre was the legitimate winner of their first match, there’s also no dispute the match was close enough to merit a rematch. There’s likewise little dispute a rematch would produce one of the UFC’s all-time best buy rates, which is why it probably will get made.
3. Georges St. Pierre
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 17-2 (won past four)
Last month’s ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Jon Fitch, unanimous decision, Aug. 9
Analysis: If you’re looking for any further proof St. Pierre completely has expelled the demons of his upset loss to Matt Serra, just look at the scorecards since the loss. GSP has fought 12 rounds in his past four fights. Two of those rounds ended in stoppage victories. In nine of the remaining 10 rounds, St. Pierre won on all three scorecards, with at least one 10-8 score in three of the nine. He has not lost a round since dropping the second to Josh Koscheck on two judges’ scorecards at UFC 74.
2. Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 119 (4 first-place votes)
Affiliation: Free agent (WAMMA heavyweight champion)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 28-1, 1 no-contest (won past nine)
Last month’s ranking: 4
Most recent result: def. Tim Sylvia, R1 submission, July 19.
Analysis: While there’s no disputing the dominance of Fedor’s win last month, it also is clear through the benefit of hindsight that Sylvia, who has lost three of his past four fights, couldn’t hang with the world’s elite heavyweights. Sylvia fell short against Emelianenko, Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the past 18 months. With Fedor sidelined for now with a hand injury, expect his next foe to be whichever freak show Japanese promoters serve up for his annual New Year’s Eve cupcake dinner.
1. Anderson Silva
Points: 134 (10 first-place votes)
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 22-4 (won past eight)
Last month’s ranking: 1
Most recent result: def. James Irvin, R1 TKO, July 19
Analysis: If we’re going to criticize Fedor for his caliber of competition, we’ve got to be fair and do the same for Silva. UFC is basically serving up Patrick Cote’s head on a platter for the UFC 90 main event in suburban Chicago in October in what on paper seems the most one-sided title match in quite some time. But then, that’s the downside of cleaning out the division in the manner Silva has.
• Votes for others: Lyoto Machida 5; Narofumi Yamamoto 4; Eddie Alvarez 3; Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell 2; Carlos Condit, Shinya Aoki, Jon Fitch 1.
• Upcoming matches for ranked fighters: No. 5 Urijah Faber vs. Mike Brown, Hollywood, Fla., Sept. 10
• SEE ALSO: MMAWeekly.com’s divisional Top 10s