Rankings: Still top heavy

For the third straight month, Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva remain tied at the top of the Yahoo! Sports MMA poll.

With neither man fighting, both again received 163 points from the 17 reporters who comprise the poll. Emelianenko, the longtime PRIDE heavyweight champion, had seven first-place votes. Anderson, the UFC middleweight champ, had six firsts but pulled even overall by claiming more second-place tallies.

UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre remained just off the pace in third with 160 points, including five firsts.

This month offers the first chance for a shakeup in the top three, as Anderson Silva defends his title against Thales Leites on April 18 in the main event of UFC 97.

Leites is not perceived as Silva's biggest threat. The challenger's biggest-name UFC win was a controversial split decision over Nate Marquardt at UFC 85, which was aided by two point deductions in his favor.

Still, the match isn't necessarily a walkover. Leites has nine of his 14 career wins by submission; and most of Silva's rare vulnerable spots during his two-and-a-half year title reign have come on the ground. Dan Henderson nearly finished him there before Silva rallied at UFC 82; and Travis Lutter took Round 1 against Silva by stifling him on the ground at UFC 67, before Silva won in the second. While Leites remains an underdog, he seems on paper more of a threat that Silva's previous challenger, Patrick Cote.

There's one addition to the Top 10 this month: WEC featherweight champ Mike Brown. Leaving the list is Shinya Aoki, who was KO'd in 27 seconds against Hayato Sakurai.

10. Mike Brown
Points: 22
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Portland, Maine
Record: 21-4 (won last nine)
Last month's ranking: unranked
Most recent result: def. Leonard Garcia, R1 TKO, March 1
Analysis: For those who send me monthly emails on the topic: Yes, I am, in fact, aware Brown beat Urijah Faber. I personally voted Brown No. 9 and Faber No. 10. I can't tell other pollsters how to vote. Thank you.

9. Urijah Faber
Points: 23
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Featherweight
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
Record: 22-2 (won last one)
Last month's ranking: 10
Most recent result: def. Jens Pulver, R1 TKO, Jan. 25
Analysis: Is Brown in Faber's head? "The California Kid" has already been openly discussing going up to lightweight or down to bantamweight.

8. Quinton Jackson
Points: 58
Affiliation: UFC
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: On the shelf until he recovers from jaw surgery.

7. Lyoto Machida
Points: 66
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Belem, Brazil
Record: 14-0
Last month's ranking: 7
Most recent result: def. Thiago Silva, R1 TKO, Jan. 31
Analysis: May 23 main event with Rashad Evans marks the first UFC title main event in quite some time to feature undefeated fighters.

6. B.J. Penn
Points: 80
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 13-5-1 (lost past one)
Last month's ranking: 5 (
Most recent result: lost to Georges St. Pierre, doctor stoppage after R4, Jan. 31
Analysis: Dropped a spot without fighting. Hopefully a confirmed match with Kenny Florian in August will get him to stop focusing on "Greasegate."

5. Rashad Evans
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Lansing, Mich.
Record: 13-0-1 (won past three)
Last month's ranking: 6
Most recent result: def. Forrest Griffin, R3 TKO, Dec. 27
Analysis: Machida's hit-and-run style presents opponents with quite a puzzle. Will Evans be the first to solve it?

4. Miguel Angel Torres
Affiliation: WEC
Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: East Chicago, Ind.
Record: 36-1 (won past 17)
Last month's ranking: 4
Most recent result: def. Takeya Mizugaki, unanimous decision, April 5
Analysis: After yet another fight-of-the-year caliber match, Torres has made it clear the MMA's Big Three has become the Big Four.

3. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 160 (five first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 18-2 (won past five)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. B.J. Penn, doctor stoppage after R4, Jan. 31
Analysis: In a holding pattern until his July match with Thiago Alves.

1 (tie). Anderson Silva
Points: 163 (six first-place votes)
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 23-4 (won past nine)
Last month's ranking: 1 (tie)
Most recent result: def. Patrick Cote, R3 TKO, Oct. 25
Analysis: Anything short of a convincing win over unheralded Leites will be a letdown.

1 (tie). Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 163 (seven first-place votes)
Affiliation: Affliction/M-1 (WAMMA heavyweight champion)
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 29-1, one no-contest (won past 10)
Last month's ranking: 1 (tie)
Most recent result: def. Andrei Arlovski, R1 KO, Jan. 24
Analysis: Rumors of an Affliction card on July 11 surfaced in recent weeks. As did rumors that, surprise surprise, Josh Barnett wouldn't fight Emelianenko on the card. Anything short of Barnett, or perhaps a rematch with Andrei Arlovski, would put Emelianenko back on "caliber of competition" notice.


Votes for others: Thiago Alves 13, Shinya Aoki 10, Brock Lesnar, Dan Henderson 6, Andrei Arlovski, Forrest Griffin 2, Jon Fitch 1.

Upcoming matches for ranked fighters: No. 2 Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites, April 18, Montreal.

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