Rankings: Silva vs. GSP

Dave Doyle
Yahoo! Sports

Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre.

No subject brings up more intense opinion than the question of who is better among the UFC's two most dominant champions.

The fans want to see the fight. UFC president Dana White wants to match them up.

And if the 20 pollsters from across the mixed martial arts media spectrum are to be believed, the fight would pit the undisputed top two fighters in the sport.

Silva, the UFC middleweight champ, regained the top spot for the first time since April thanks to his highlight-reel knockout victory over Vitor Belfort on Feb. 5.

It was the 13th consecutive win for the longest-reigning champ in UFC history. Silva earned 13 first-place votes – six more than last month (there were 20 participants in this month's poll, up from 19 in January) – and got second-place votes from the remaining seven pollsters.

St. Pierre, meanwhile, was nearly as much a victim of Silva's kick as was Belfort. The UFC welterweight champ, winner of eight straight fights and 30 consecutive rounds, dropped from 12 first-place votes to seven this month and finished six points behind Silva.

All 13 voters who tallied Silva as first also penciled in St. Pierre at No. 2, which means, regardless of who you consider No. 1, all of the nation's top MMA reporters consider Silva and St. Pierre to be the sport's two best fighters.

Which is yet another reason to make the super fight that everyone wants.

Also of note in this month's results is who isn't in the poll: Fedor Emelianenko.

Since the rankings debuted in the summer of 2007, only Silva, GSP and "The Last Emperor" have held the top spot. They also were the only three fighters to have been ranked in the top 10 every month of the poll's existence. But no longer.

Emelianenko's one-sided loss to Antonio Silva, his second consecutive defeat, dropped the heavyweight icon out of the top 10. He didn't receive a single vote.

That left a tight battle for Emelianenko's old spot. B.J. Penn, who meets No. 9 Jon Fitch on Feb. 26, re-enters at No. 10 with 23 points. Penn edged Jon Jones, who is coming off his impressive win over Ryan Bader, by a single point. Unbeaten Gray Maynard placed 12th with 20 points, and Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez is 13th with 16.

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; Joe Ferraro, Rogers 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, 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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Penn

10. B.J. Penn
Points: 24
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: welterweight
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 16-7-1 (won last one)
Last month's ranking: unranked
Most recent result: def. Matt Hughes, R1 KO, Nov. 20
Analysis: Which is more indicative of where Penn stands: his two losses to Frankie Edgar, or his quick knockout of Hughes? His performance against Fitch should answer the question.

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Fitch

9. 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:His long road back to a title shot would be complete with a victory over Penn.

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Shields

8. Jake Shields
Points: 49
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: welterweight (never lost Strikeforce middleweight title)
Hometown: San Francisco
Record: 26-4-1 (won past 15)
Last month's ranking: 9
Most recent result: def. Martin Kampmann, split decision, Oct. 23
Analysis:As if fighting Georges St. Pierre in front of 55,000 Canadians isn't enough of a challenge, Shields now stands as the man in the way of Silva-St. Pierre.

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Velasquez

7. Cain Velasquez
Points: 65
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:He is still on the mend following shoulder surgery.

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Cruz

6. Dominick Cruz
Points: 84
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: bantamweight (UFC bantamweight champion)
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:He also is on the mend from injury, recovering from a broken hand.

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Edgar

5. Frank Edgar
Points: 111
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:He'll have a third chance to defeat Maynard when they meet next.

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Rua

4. Mauricio Rua
Points: 123
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: During his days in Japan, Rua often found out who his opponents would be on short notice, so "Shogun" shouldn't have much trouble adjusting his training from Rashad Evans to Jon Jones.

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Aldo

3. Jose Aldo
Points: 155
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: featherweight (UFC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro
Record: 17-1 (won past 10)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. Manny Gamburyan, R2 TKO, Sept. 20
Analysis:Up next is Ontario native Mark Hominick on Hominick's home turf.

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St. Pierre

2. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 187 (seven first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 21-2 (won past seven)
Last month's ranking: 1
Most recent result: def. Josh Koscheck, unanimous decision, Dec. 11
Analysis:He's handled the pressure of fighting in his hometown of Montreal with ease. How will he handle Silva?

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Silva

1. Anderson Silva
Points: 193 (13 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 28-4 (won past 13)
Last month's ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Vitor Belfort, R1 KO, Feb. 5
Analysis:Despite the occasional lackluster performance along the way, Silva's 13 consecutive wins speak for themselves.

More

• Votes for others: Jon Jones, 23; Gray Maynard, 20; Gilbert Melendez, 16; Rashad Evans, 3; Joe Benavidez, Lyoto Machida, Hatsu Hioki and Nick Diaz, 1.

• Upcoming matches for top 10 fighters: No. 9 Jon Fitch vs. No. 10 B.J. Penn, Feb. 26; No. 4 Mauricio Rua vs. Jon Jones, March 19.

Last month's rankings

MMAWeekly's divisional rankings