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Rankings: Maynard's near-win gets no love

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Gray Maynard has stepped into the cage 12 times in his career. He's never left a loser.

He has fought the current UFC lightweight champion, Frank Edgar, on two occasions. He didn't lose either fight.

But after the two went to a split draw after 25 minutes of sensational action in the main event of UFC 125, Maynard couldn't crack the top 10. The former Michigan State Spartan appeared on eight of 19 ballots and got 17 points, which placed him 12th.

Edgar remained in his previous spot, fifth, after retaining his title.

So what keeps Maynard out of the top 10, while a man who couldn't defeat him twice stays perched at No. 5?

Voters weigh championships heavily in their tabulations. All seven UFC champs are in the current top 10, and an eighth fighter, No. 9 Jake Shields, left Strikeforce without ever dropping the company's middleweight belt.

In order to win a title, a fighter almost invariably knocks off a ranked fighter, which gives them a quicker route to a rating. That's the case with Edgar, who defeated the highly regarded B.J. Penn to take the lightweight title last year and followed up by defeating Penn in the rematch.

That leaves few spots for fighters who aren't in possession of company hardware, which means one has to do something extraordinary to crack the poll. Like No. 8 Fedor Emelianenko, who has only lost once in the past decade. Or No. 10 Jon Fitch, who has been victorious in 21 of his past 22 fights, with only a loss to No. 1 Georges St. Pierre blemishing his record.

This means quality fighters end up on the outside looking in. Look no further than former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, who has lost just once in 17 fights. He dropped out of the top 10 after losing the title to Lyoto Machida and still sits at No. 14 despite wins over Thiago Silva and Quinton Jackson since the loss.

Is any of this fair to Maynard? Probably not. But if there's a silver lining, he can answer the questions once and for all by taking the title from Edgar when they meet in their third fight, expected to take place on Memorial Day weekend.


This month's voting panel: Denny Burkholder, CBSSports.com; Elias Cepeda, Inside Fighting; Mike Chiappetta MMAFighting.com and Fight! Magazine; Steve Cofield, Cagewriter and ESPN Radio 1100 Las Vegas; Neil Davidson The Canadian Press; Dave Doyle Yahoo! Sports; Ben Fowlkes, SportsIllustrated.com and MMAFighting.com; Josh Gross, ESPN.com; Ariel Helwani, Versus.com and MMAFighting.com; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Damon Martin, MMAWeekly.com; Todd Martin, freelance; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Brad McCray, freelance; Dave Meltzer, Yahoo! Sports; and The Wrestling Observer; Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com; Michael David Smith, MMAFighting.com; Mike Straka, HDNet; Dann Stupp, MMAjunkie.com; and The Dayton Daily News.

Scoring: Ten points for a first-place vote, nine points for second, etc., down to one point for a 10th-place vote. Fighters who are under suspension for usage of performance-enhancing substances or abuse of drugs are ineligible to be considered for the duration of their suspensions; fighters who have been inactive for more than 12 months are ineligible for consideration until after the completion of their next fight.

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Fitch

10. Jon Fitch
Points: 27
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Welterweight
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Record: 23-3, 1 no-contest (won past five)
Last month's ranking: 10
Most recent result: Def. Thiago Alves, unanimous decision, Aug. 7
Analysis:Impending showdown with B.J. Penn is by far his toughest assignment since his loss to St. Pierre.

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Shields

9. Jake Shields
Points: 35
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Welterweight (never lost Strikeforce middleweight title)
Hometown: San Francisco
Record: 26-4-1 (has won past 15)
Last month's ranking: 9
Most recent result: Def. Martin Kampmann, split decision, Oct. 23
Analysis:The expected crowd of 40,000 in Toronto for St. Pierre-Shields will be so strongly in favor of GSP that Shields may as well go ahead and wear a Montreal Canadiens jersey into the cage.

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Emelianenko

8. Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 49
Affiliation: Strikeforce/M-1
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 31-2, one no-contest (lost last one)
Last month's ranking: 8
Most recent result: Lost to Fabricio Werdum, R1 submission, June 26
Analysis: Emelianenko's handlers are notorious meddlers, but they're absolutely correct in demanding drug tests for Strikeforce's heavyweight tournament, particularly as it pertains to serial cheater Josh Barnett. In the meantime, the Russian phenom returns for a first-round bout against Antonio Silva on Feb. 12.

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Velasquez

7. Cain Velasquez
Points: 60
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Heavyweight (UFC heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Salinas, Calif.
Record: 9-0 (won past nine)
Last month's ranking: 7
Most recent result: def. Brock Lesnar, R1 TKO, Oct. 23
Analysis:Was back in the gym just four days after surgery; but don't expect him back in the cage for about eight months.

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Cruz

6. Dominick Cruz
Points: 83
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Bantamweight (UFC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: San Diego
Record: 16-1 (has won past seven)
Last month's ranking: 6
Most recent result: Def. Scott Jorgensen, unanimous decision, Dec. 16
Analysis: Another UFC champ on the mend, as hand surgery has him out for awhile.

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Edgar

5. Frank Edgar
Points: 99
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)
Hometown: Toms River, N.J.
Record: 13-1-1 (drew last fight)
Last month's ranking: 5
Most recent result: split draw vs. Gray Maynard, Jan. 1
Analysis:How do you win without actually winning? By showing tremendous heart in battling back from a first-round beatdown by an undefeated foe and rallying to retain your title.

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Rua

4. Mauricio Rua
Points: 114
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 19-4 (won previous fight)
Last month's ranking: 4
Most recent result: Def. Lyoto Machida, R1 TKO, May 8
Analysis:Is his knee, which his given him trouble throughout his career, going to be fully healed in time for his March date with Rashad Evans?

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Aldo

3. Jose Aldo
Points: 147
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro
Record: 17-1 (has won past 10)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: Def. Manny Gamburyan, R2 TKO, Sept. 20
Analysis:Has an April 30 date set against red-hot Mark Hominick.

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Silva

2. Anderson Silva
Points: 176 (7 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 27-4 (has won past 12)
Last month's ranking: 2
Most recent result: Def. Chael Sonnen, R5 submission, Aug. 7
Analysis:Returns to action on Feb. 5 against Vitor Belfort.

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St. Pierre

1. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 183 (12 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 20-2 (has won past seven)
Last month's ranking: 1
Most recent result: Def. Josh Koscheck, unanimous decision, Dec. 11
Analysis: Gearing up for a fight against Shields, whom he has called his toughest challenge in the division.

More

• Votes for others: B.J. Penn 19; Gray Maynard 17; Gilbert Melendez 15; Rashad Evans 7; Jon Jones 5; Joe Benavidez, Lyoto Machida 2.

• Upcoming matches for top 10 fighters: No. 2 Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort, Feb. 5; No. 8 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Silva, Feb. 12.

Last month's rankings

MMAWeekly's divisional rankings