Note: Rankings will be updated in the week following UFC 116.
You can follow Dave Doyle on Twitter at @yahoodoyle.
UFC president Dana White made headlines last week when he essentially said that reporters who rank fighters from non-UFC promotions are on the take.
Now, you might expect the same sort of moralizing, self-back-patting retort that has come from most quarters in response to this statement, but I have to come clean here: Dana is right! I accept payment for the rankings, but only in the form of International Fight League stock, and as you'll see below, this month's entire Top 10 consists of fighters from the Seattle Tiger Sharks. Next month we'll feature the New York Pit Bulls, and then the following month, the San Jose Razorclaws.
But seriously …
Since the beginning of 2009, only one non-Zuffa fighter has cracked the top six. That would be Fedor Emelianenko, who just happens to be 31-1, with his only loss on a controversial cuts stoppage. And the only non-Zuffa fighter to reach No. 7, Jake Shields, is a free agent who just happened to sit with White in the front row at April's WEC event. So if any pollsters are taking money from competing promoters, those promotions are getting a lousy return on their investment.
(And yes, for those who are sarcasm-impaired, the IFL thing was in fact a joke. Take a deep breath and step away from your blog-publishing template.)
With that little bit of silliness out of the way, it's time for this month's rankings. The fighters in the top 10 remain the same, but there's a bit of movement within the rankings, as Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's convincing light heavyweight title victory over Lyoto Machida had a ripple effect on the middle of the pack. Rua jumped four spots to five and Machida dropped two to No. 7.
This month's voting panel: Carlos Arias, The Orange County Register; Denny Burkholder, CBSSports.com; Elias Cepeda, Inside Fighting; Mike Chiappetta MMAFighting.com and Fight! Magazine; Steve Cofield, Cage Writer and ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas; Neil Davidson, Canadian Press, Dave Doyle Yahoo! Sports; Ben Fowlkes SportsIllustrated.com and MMAFighting.com; Josh Gross SportsIllustrated.com; Ariel Helwani Versus.com and MMAFighting.com; Kevin Iole Yahoo! Sports; Damon Martin MMAWeekly.com; Todd Martin, freelance; John Morgan, MMAjunkie.com; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Brad McCray, freelance; Dave Meltzer, Yahoo! Sports and The Wrestling Observer; Brett Okamoto, The Las Vegas Sun; Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com; Michael David Smith, MMAFighting.com; Dann Stupp MMAjunkie.com. and The Dayton Daily News.
Scoring: 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second, etc., down to 1 point for a 10th-place vote. Fighters who are under suspension usage of performance-enhancing substances or drugs of abuse 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.
10. Dominick Cruz
Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: San Diego
Record: 15-1 (has won past six)
Last month's ranking: 10
Most recent result: def. Brian Bowles, R3 TKO, March 6
Analysis: Former featherweight champ Urijah Faber recently hinted he is planning on dropping to 135, which could set up Cruz for a rematch with the only opponent who has defeated him.
9. Frank Edgar
Affiliation: UFC (UFC lightweight champion)
Weight class: Lightweight
Hometown: Toms River, N.J.
Record: 12-1 (has won past four)
Last month's ranking: 8
Most recent result: def. B.J. Penn, unanimous decision, April 10
Analysis: Rematch with Penn is set for August 28 in Boston.
8. Jake Shields
Affiliation: Free agent
Weight class: Welterweight/Middleweight (Strikeforce middleweight champion)
Hometown: San Francisco
Record: 25-4-1 (has won past 14)
Last month's ranking: 7
Most recent result: def. Dan Henderson, unanimous decision, April 17
Analysis:Strikeforce didn't exactly try too hard on resigning Shields, who is now free to negotiate with any MMA company.
7. Lyoto Machida
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Belem, Brazil
Record: 16-1 (lost previous fight)
Last month's ranking: 5
Most recent result: lost to Mauricio Rua, R1 TKO, May 8
Analysis:A rumored match with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson would make a good test for both coming off disappointing losses.
6. B.J. Penn
Weight class: Lightweight
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 15-6-1 (lost previous fight)
Last month's ranking: 6
Most recent result: lost to Frank Edgar, unanimous decision, April 10
Analysis: Given that Penn remains ranked three spots ahead of the man who took his title, voters clearly see the result as a fluke.
5. Mauricio Rua
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 19-4 (won previous fight)
Last month's ranking: 9
Most recent result: def. Lyoto Machida, R1 TKO, May 8
Analysis:"Shogun" clearly wasn't going to leave his fate in the hand of the judges this time.
4. Jose Aldo
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro
Record: 17-1 (has won past 10)
Last month's ranking: 4
Most recent result: def. Urijah Faber, unanimous decision, April 24
Analysis: Still no word on Aldo's next foe. Or on whether anyone else at 145 pounds wants to face him.
3. Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 168 (four first-place votes)
Affiliation: Strikeforce/M-1 (never lost PRIDE title)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 31-1, one no-contest (has won past 11)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. Brett Rogers, R2 KO, Nov. 7
Analysis: Fabricio Werdum is up next for Emelianenko. After that, if M-1 simply must make a match with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem if the promotion wishes to be taken seriously.
2. Anderson Silva
Points: 177 (six first-place votes)
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 26-4 (has won past 11)
Last month's ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Demian Maia, unanimous decision, April 10
Analysis:Chael Sonnen is already ramping up the trash talk for their Aug. 7 fight. Will that be enough to coax "good" Silva back into action and put "bad" Silva back on the shelf?
1. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 188 (11 first-place votes)
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. Dan Hardy, unanimous decision, March 27
Analysis: Recent training with boxing great Freddie Roach demonstrates St. Pierre's commitment to his all-around game.
• Votes for others:Rashad Evans 21, Brock Lesnar 12, Shane Carwin 9, Jon Fitch 7, Kenny Florian, Cain Velasquez 4; Gilbert Melendez, Nick Diaz, Jon Jones 3; Ben Henderson, Joe Benavidez 1.
• Upcoming matches for Top 10 fighters: No. 3 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum, June 26, San Jose, Calif.
- Fedor Emelianenko
- Lyoto Machida