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Rankings: MMA's 'injured reserve' list swells

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Injuries will always be a part of the fight game. But rarely has the list of the world's best fighters read more like a roll call of the walking wounded than it does heading into the summer of 2011.

Just last month, the only bout between Top-10 ranked fighters scheduled anytime soon – The trilogy fight between No. 5 Frankie Edgar and No. 10 Gray Maynard – fell through because both fighters were banged up, Maynard with a knee injury and Edgar with back issues.

And that's just the start of it. The rundown:

• No. 9 Jon Fitch underwent shoulder surgery and could be out up to six months.

• No. 7 Cain Velasquez is still recovering from his shoulder injury and won't be back until the fall.

• No. 4 Jon Jones' next fight is up in the air after he first pulled out of a scheduled match with Rashad Evans in order to undergo a surgical procedure to repair a ligament in his hand, which he later decided against having.

• No. 3 Jose Aldo has been resting from a series of nagging injuries, taking him out of a planned Aug. 6 fight with Chad Mendes and leaving him out until at least September.

• No. 2 Georges St. Pierre has his next fight scheduled with Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz. But due to GSP's eye injury, the fight won't take place until the end of October.

And that doesn't include Brock Lesnar, who is unranked but is arguably still the company's top drawing card. Lesnar pulled out of his UFC 131 match with Junior dos Santos in order to deal with his ongoing Diverticulitis issues.

So this puts the company in another one of those stretches in which we'll go awhile without seeing mega-fights, like the one a year and a half ago that included pay-per-view main events such as Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva and Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman.

The plus side? Such runs are windows of opportunity for the next generation of headliners to come together. Fighters like Jones, Aldo, Edgar, Velasquez and Maynard weren't headlining pay per views or ranked in the Top 10 two years ago. Now they are. And no doubt new stars will emerge when given the opportunity this time around, as well.


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; CTV Sportsnet;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; John Morgan, MMAjunkie.com; Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com; Michael David Smith, MMAFighting.com; Mike Straka, Tapout TV; Dann Stupp, MMAjunkie.com and The Dayton Daily News;Jeff Wagenheim, SI.com.

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 use 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 the completion of their next fight.

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Maynard

10. Gray Maynard
Points: 29
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: lightweight
Hometown: Las Vegas
Record: 10-0-1, 1 no-contest (draw in previous fight)
Last month's ranking: 9
Most recent result: vs. Frankie Edgar, majority draw, Jan. 1
Analysis: Claims he could have fought through the knee injury that postponed his title fight, but didn't want to risk it on another opponent when Edgar had to withdraw.

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Melendez

9. Gilbert Melendez
Points: 32
Affiliation: Strikeforce (lightweight champion)
Weight class: lightweight
Hometown: San Francisco
Record: 19-2 (won past five)
Last month's ranking: 9
Most recent result: def. Tatsuya Kawajiri, R1 TKO, April 9
Analysis: Not likely to get a UFC title shot soon, so for now he's hanging back and waiting to find out his next Strikeforce defense.

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Fitch

8. Jon Fitch
Points: 41
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: welterweight
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Record: 23-3-1, 1 no-contest (draw in previous fight)
Last month's ranking: 8
Most recent result: majority draw vs. B.J. Penn, Feb. 21
Analysis: UFC 130 winner Rick Story called out the recovering Fitch; Fitch says he has bigger fish to fry.

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Velasquez

7. Cain Velasquez
Points: 77
Affiliation: UFC (heavyweight champion)
Weight class: heavyweight
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:Will find out at UFC 131 whether Dos Santos or Shane Carwin will be his next foe.

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Cruz

6. Dominick Cruz
Points: 99
Affiliation: UFC (bantamweight champion)
Weight class: bantamweight
Hometown: San Diego
Record: 16-1 (won past seven)
Last month's ranking: 6
Most recent result: def. Scott Jorgensen, unanimous decision, Dec. 16
Analysis: Cruz's July 2 grudge match with the only man who has defeated him, Urijah Faber, is the highlight of the upcoming schedule.

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Edgar

5. Frankie Edgar
Points: 122
Affiliation: UFC (lightweight champion)
Weight class: lightweight
Hometown: Toms River, N.J.
Record: 13-1-1 (draw in previous fight)
Last month's ranking: 5
Most recent result: split draw vs. Gray Maynard, Jan. 1
Analysis:Said his injured back was so bad he couldn't pick up his kids or tie his shoes.

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Jones

4. Jon Jones
Points: 145
Affiliation: UFC (light heavyweight champion)
Weight class: light heavyweight
Hometown: Endicott, N.Y.
Record: 13-1 (won previous four)
Last month's ranking: unranked
Most recent result: def. Mauricio Rua, R3 TKO, March 19
Analysis: Although Quinton "Rampage" Jackson didn't impress against Matt Hamill at UFC 130, he may be the only available option for Jones' next title defense.

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Aldo

3. Jose Aldo
Points: 153
Affiliation: UFC (featherweight champion)
Weight class: featherweight
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro
Record: 18-1 (won past 11)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. Mark Hominick, unanimous decision, April 30
Analysis:Next foe Chad Mendes has stated he doesn't want to wait around and will take another fight while Aldo heals, if necessary.

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St. Pierre

2. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 200 (3 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC (welterweight champion)
Weight class: welterweight
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 22-2 (won past nine)
Last month's ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Jake Shields, unanimous decision, April 30
Analysis:Battle with the go-for-broke Diaz has the potential to end St. Pierre's string of methodical performances.

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Silva

1. Anderson Silva
Points: 216 (19 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC (middleweight champion)
Weight class: middleweight
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 28-4 (won past 13)
Last month's ranking: 1
Most recent result: def. Vitor Belfort, R1 KO, Feb. 5
Analysis:Soon begins training in earnest for his August title defense against Yushin Okami.

More:

• Votes for others: Jake Shields, Mauricio Rua 23; Nick Diaz 10; B.J. Penn 7; Rashad Evans 6; Fedor Emelianenko, Lyoto Machida 4; Hatsu Hioki 1.

• Upcoming matches for ranked fighters: No. 6 Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber, July 2.

Last month's rankings

MMAWeekly's divisional rankings