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Rankings: Why Fedor matters

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It was the most contrived outrage this side of "Lipstickgate."

Brock Lesnar wasn't happy he was being left out of the conversation at last week's press conference for his upcoming Nov. 15 match with Randy Couture.

Seems the pesky reporters on the phone kept asking Couture and UFC president Dana White about Fedor Emelianenko, the consensus greatest heavyweight in the history of mixed martial arts.

So Lesnar channeled his best pro wrestling villain voice and went into an obscene tirade about Emelianenko. "I'm tired of hearing all this talk about Fedor Emelianenko," he roared in a "trying to hype WrestleMania" tone. "Who gives a (expletive) about Fedor?"

Why do reporters continue to ask about Emelianenko? Let's take a look at the key moments in the careers of Emelianenko, Couture and Lesnar:

Emelianenko (27-1, 1 no-contest):

• Key wins: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), Mirko Cro Cop (twice), Mark Coleman (twice), Mark Hunt, Matt Lindland, Kevin Randleman, Heath Herring, Ricardo Arona, Tim Sylvia and Renato Sobral, among others.
• Key losses: None that were legit. Couture (16-8):

• Key wins: Vitor Belfort (twice), Chuck Liddell, Tim Sylvia, Gabriel Gonzaga, Jeremy Horn, Pedro Rizzo, Tito Ortiz, Randleman.
• Key losses: Liddell (twice); Ricco Rodriguez; Josh Barnett; Enson Inoue.

Lesnar (2-1):

• Key wins: Herring
• Key losses: Frank Mir

As the records bear out, Fedor has the world's best resumé, even if he no longer faces top competition as often as we'd like to see. It's no accident that Couture wants to fight Emelianenko more than he does any other fighter at this stage of his career, Brock Lesnar included.

See, Brock, your boss frequently claims he wants to get all the best talent in the world. And he's done an admirable job working toward that goal, but he's still yet to come close to making a deal with the Russian. So as long as Emelianenko remains outside the UFC, we in the media are going to continue to ask questions about when he might show up.

With that, on to this month's rankings.

The only scheduled top-10 fight in September was postponed when the Urijah Faber-Mike Brown WEC title match was postponed until November due to the threat of Hurricane Ike.

The only change of note in the top 10 is that Couture is no longer eligible, because of our 12-month rule. Couture can be considered for the poll again after his next fight. Unbeaten light heavyweight Lyoto Machida enters the poll at No. 10, edging out Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, the supremely talented but oft-injured Japanese standout.

For info on the Y! Sports MMA Top 10 panel, go here.

10. Lyoto Machida
Points: 9
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Belem, Brazil
Record: 13-0
Last month's ranking: unranked
Most recent results: def. Tito Ortiz, unanimous decision, May 24
Analysis: With his unique toolkit, which includes aspects of point karate and sumo, Machida has scored wins over the likes of Rich Franklin, Stephan Bonnar, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Tito Ortiz. The only reason he doesn't have more big names on his ledger is because several top fighters don't want to test themselves against the challenge his style presents.

9. Quinton Jackson
Points: 22
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Record: 28-7 (lost last one)
Last month's ranking: 10
Most recent result: lost to Forrest Griffin, unanimous decision, July 5
Analysis: It's clear that the former UFC light heavyweight champion is going to step back into the cage, even with a felony charge hanging over him. Rumors of a match against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua have given way to talk that Jackson, who recently joined England's Wolfslair camp, will face Wanderlei Silva on Dec. 27 in Las Vegas.

8. Forrest Griffin
Points: 51
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Las Vegas
Record: 16-4 (won past two)
Last month's ranking: 8
Most recent result: def. Quinton Jackson, unanimous decision, July 5
Analysis: If you had predicted at the end of 2007 that the UFC's big weekend card for New Year's Eve in 2008 would feature Griffin defending the light heavyweight title against Rashad Evans, you would have been shouted down by the message board warriors. Griffin managed to submit Rua and went toe-to-toe with Quinton Jackson. Now how will he adapt against an outstanding wrestler with KO power in both his fists and feet?

7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Points: 57
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Heavyweight (UFC interim heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil
Record: 31-4-1 (won last 3)
Last month's ranking: 6
Recent results: def. Tim Sylvia, R3 submission, Feb. 2
Analysis: Nogueira's Dec. 27 match against Frank Mir all of a sudden has new meaning, as the winner is expected to face the Couture-Lesnar winner sometime in 2009 to determine an undisputed UFC champ. A pair or wins would cement the former PRIDE champion's legacy on the very short list of all-time great mixed martial arts heavyweights.

6. Miguel Angel Torres
Points: 64
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: E. Chicago, Ind.
Record: 34-1 (won past 15)
Last month's ranking: 7
Most recent result: def. Yoshiro Maeda, TKO R3, June 1
Analysis: Torres is in a holding pattern until his next opponent is named. He is expected to next defend his title on the WEC's Dec. 3 card, for which a venue has yet to be determined.

5. Urijah Faber
Points: 86
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
Record: 21-1 (won last 13)
Last month's ranking: 5
2007 results: def. Jens Pulver, unanimous decision, June 1
Analysis: While most cross-division speculation has centered on the idea of Faber meeting Torres, Faber turned heads recently by saying he thinks he would fare well against UFC lightweight champ B.J. Penn. Of course, all this is moot if the "California Kid" doesn't get past the dangerous Brown.

4. B.J. Penn
Points: 99
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 13-4-1 (won past three)
Last month's ranking: 4
Most recent result: def. Sean Sherk, R3 TKO, May 24
Analysis: In 2006, Penn lost back-to-back fights he was winning when he gassed against both Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes. Penn's dominant performances in victories against Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson and Sean Sherk since then have made the questions about Penn's dedication simmer down, but a strong performance against a cardio machine like St. Pierre will end them once and for all.

3. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 117
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 17-2 (won past four)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. Jon Fitch, unanimous decision, Aug. 9
Analysis: The champion, who fought three times in eight months, is in the middle of a well-earned break before he begins training for Penn in earnest.

2. Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 119 (four first-place votes)
Affiliation: Free agent (WAMMA heavyweight champion)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 28-1, 1 no-contest (won last nine)
Last month's ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Tim Sylvia, R1 submission, July 19.
Analysis: Affliction is claiming the world's top heavyweight will appear on their Jan. 19 card in Anaheim. This, however, would get in the way of Fedor's annual easy fight for a massive paycheck on New Year's Eve in Japan. So let's see how things pan out on the Eastern front before we pencil Fedor in for another appearance at the Honda Center.

1. Anderson Silva
Points: 135 (10 first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 22-4 (won last eight)
Last month's ranking: 1
Most recent result: def. James Irvin, R1 TKO, July 19
Analysis: For yet another perspective on just how good the UFC middleweight champ is, consider the case of Rich Franklin. Franklin was doing so much damage to the rest of the middleweight pack that the UFC shifted him to light heavyweight just to keep 185 from being laid completely to waste. Franklin boasts a 24-1 (1 NC) record outside of his two losses to Silva, and yet, those losses to "The Spider" were so one-sided that Franklin barely registers a blip in the top-10 voting.


Votes for others: Narofumi Yamamoto 6; Eddie Alvarez 4; Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans 2; Carlos Condit, Shinya Aoki, Jon Fitch, Rich Franklin 1.

Upcoming matches for ranked fighters: No. 1 Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote, Oct. 25.

Last month's rankings's divisional rankings

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