Is Anderson Silva the greatest UFC champion of all time?
Yes, we're well aware the fickle media questioned Silva for most of the past year, after less-than-thrilling performances in his wins over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites.
But all those questions were wiped away in a dominant knockout win over former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 on Aug. 8.
Silva has held the belt since defeating Rich Franklin at UFC 64 on Oct. 14, 2006. He's not likely to defend his title again before his third anniversary, which will make him the second fighter to hold a UFC title for three years. Former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz is the record holder at three years, four months and 12 days.
Matt Hughes held the welterweight title longer over the course of two reigns, a span of more than four years, over which he had a record seven successful title defenses. And five-time champion Randy Couture will long be lauded for the nature of his title wins in two weights classes, three of which occurred past the age of 40.
But Silva has built an impressive resume. Consider:
• He is on a UFC record 10-fight win streak.
• His five successful title defenses ties Ortiz and Hughes for most in one title reign.
• Including both his title-claiming victory and non-title matches with Griffin, James Irvin, and Travis Lutter, Silva has won 18 of 20 rounds (Lutter and Dan Henderson each won the first round before losing in the second).
• The victory over Griffin was his fifth over a former major champion. He also twice beat Franklin, Henderson was a PRIDE double-weight class champion, and Nate Marquardt is a former King of Pancrase.
While one can make convincing cases for Hughes, Couture, or Royce Gracie, Silva's win over Griffin shows he belongs in the discussion. A few more dominant performances like the one at UFC 101 and the case may close.
Silva's victory was the in-cage highlight of one of the most frenetic months the mixed martial arts world ever has experienced. Silva's performance vaulted him from No. 3 in the poll to the top spot, edging Georges St. Pierre by one point.
Fedor Emelianenko's fight with Josh Barnett was canceled through no fault of Fedor's own, as Barnett flunked a drug test. But some voters aren't impressed with Emelianenko's choice to sign with Strikeforce, which bans elbows on the ground and lacks the depth of the UFC's heavyweight division. Emelianenko dropped from No. 2 to No. 3.
B.J. Penn redeemed himself after his loss to St. Pierre with a convincing win over Kenny Florian, and moved up to No. 5. And if all that's not enough to chew on, Brian Bowles went out and TKOd Miguel Torres, ending Torres' 17-fight win streak and taking his WEC bantamweight title. Torres dropped from No. 4 to No. 8, while Bowles debuts at No. 10.
That should put a wrap on major changes in the top 10 for awhile. The downside of MMA's hotshot summer is that with four UFC and two WEC champs fighting in eight weeks (and Fedor's fight fallout) is that the only top 10 match on the upcoming schedule is No. 4 Lyoto Machida's UFC light heavyweight title defense against Mauricio Rua on Oct. 24.
For a list of this month's Y! Sports Top 10 poll panel participants, go here.
10. Brian Bowles
Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: Athens, Ga.
Record: 8-0 (won last eight)
Last month's ranking: Not ranked
Most recent result: def. Miguel Torres, R1 TKO, Aug. 9
Analysis: WEC champs have had a hard time breaking the poll. Urijah Faber took months to crack the top 10 when the poll debuted in 2007. Then Mike Brown was ranked beneath Faber after beating Faber for the featherweight title. Bowles is the latest to experience this effect, as the unbeaten Georgian scored a convincing win over Torres to claim the bantamweight belt, but still finished beneath him in the poll.
9. Dan Henderson
Weight class: Middleweight
Hometown: Temecula, Calif.
Record: 25-7 (won last three)
Last month's ranking: 10 (tie)
Most recent result: def. Michael Bisping, KO R2, July 11
Analysis: Henderson is convinced he made mistakes in his 2008 loss to Anderson Silva that he can correct. Henderson likely provides the UFC with the last middleweight challenger fans will believe has a chance to beat Silva for quite some time, should a rematch get made.
8. Miguel Angel Torres
Weight class: Bantamweight
Hometown: East Chicago, Ind.
Record: 36-2 (lost past one)
Last month's ranking: 4
Most recent result: lost to Brian Bowles, R1 TKO, Aug. 9
Analysis: Something seemed off with Torres from the get-go in his lost to Bowles. He's already vowed to make up for his mistakes. We don't put it past him.
7. Quinton Jackson
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" openly taunted Griffin, who beat Jackson back at UFC 86, after Griffin's loss to Silva. Maybe Jackson should be more focused on beating Rashad Evans.
6. Mike Brown
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Portland, Maine
Record: 22-4 (won last 10)
Last month's ranking: 7
Most recent result: def. Urijah Faber, unanimous decision, June 7
Analysis: November title defense against fearsome striker Jose Aldo looms.
5. B.J. Penn
Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 14-5-1 (lost past one)
Last month's ranking: 6
Most recent result: def. Kenny Florian, R4 submission, Aug. 8
Analysis: Reminded folks that despite what happened against St. Pierre in January, he's still undisputed King of the Hill at 155 pounds.
4. Lyoto Machida
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Belem, Brazil
Last month's ranking: 5
Most recent result: def. Rashad Evans, R2 TKO, May 23
Analysis: Will have the big-fight spotlight to himself fairly soon.
3. Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 136 (four first-place votes)
Affiliation: Strikeforce/M-1 (never lost PRIDE title)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 30-1, one no-contest (won past 10)
Last month's ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Andrei Arlovski, R1 KO, Jan. 24
Analysis: So who is really in charge of the sport's all-time greatest heavyweight? Is it Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker, who built his company into something special with sharp matchmaking? Is it Fedor's M-1 puppeteers? Or is it the TV geniuses who gave the world the "Kimbo and the Amazing Technicolor Exploding Ear" show? The answer to these questions will go a long way toward determining whether the Fedor-Strikeforce alliance sinks or swims.
2. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 157 (six first-place votes)
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 19-2 (won past six)
Last month's ranking: 1
Most recent result: def. Thiago Alves, unanimous decision, July 11
Analysis: St. Pierre dropped out of the top spot through no fault of his own. But with a match against either Mike Swick or Martin Kampmann looming, it appears St. Pierre is entering the "Patrick Cote/Thales Leites" portion of his title reign.
1. Anderson Silva
Points: 158 (nine first-place votes)
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 24-4 (won past 10)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. Forrest Griffin, R1 KO, Aug. 8
Analysis: One can make a case for any of the top three in the No. 1 spot.
• Votes for others: Brock Lesnar 16; Rashad Evans, Urijah Faber 13; Jake Shields 3; Shinya Aoki, Kenny Florian 2; Gegard Mousasi, Thiago Alves 1.
• Upcoming matches for ranked fighters: No. 4 Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Oct. 24.
- Anderson Silva
- Brian Bowles
- Urijah Faber
- Forrest Griffin