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A trio of spectacular performances led to a bit of a shakeup in the latest rankings.
B.J. Penn, Urijah Faber and Miguel Angel Torres put on three of 2008's most impressive displays of mixed martial arts skill in their recent victories, enabling all three to move up two places in the poll.
Penn defended his UFC lightweight championship with a convincing win over former champion Sean Sherk on May 24. Penn's standup game was so impressive in victory that Sherk, a wrestler, was never able to take the Hawaiian off his feet over the course of three rounds. As a result, Penn nudged ahead of Fedor Emelianenko and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson for the third spot in the poll.
Faber, the WEC featherweight kingpin, came through under the biggest spotlight of his career. In front of a near-sellout hometown crowd at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, Faber dazzled by taking it to one of the best lighter-weight strikers in MMA history – former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver – and winning a unanimous decision after 25 minutes of grueling action. Faber moved from No. 7 to No. 5 with the victory.
And Torres, who has gotten the least amount of publicity of the three, all but sealed his unofficial title of Breakout MMA Fighter of 2008 with his stellar TKO win over tough Yoshiro Maeda. The WEC bantamweight champ jumped to No. 8 with the victory.
As a result of all the movement, both Fedor Emelianenko and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson fell. Fedor dropped to No. 6 and Jackson to No. 4. That has more to do with their recent inactivity than it is an indictment of their skills. Both return to action in July.
For info on the Y! Sports MMA Top 10 panel, go here.
10. Dan Henderson
Weight class: Light heavyweight/middleweight
Hometown: Victorville, Calif.
Record: 22-8 (lost past two)
Last month's ranking: 9
Most recent result: lost to Anderson Silva, R2 submission, March 1
Analysis: Still nothing concrete on Henderson's agenda. But then, "Hollywood" has earned the right to take some time off after facing Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Jackson and Anderson Silva in consecutive fights.
9. Randy Couture
Affiliation:Under contract to UFC
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Gresham, Ore.
Record: 16-8 (won past two)
Last month's ranking: 8
Most recent results: def. Gabriel Gonzaga, Round 3 TKO, Aug. 25
Analysis: Nothing new in Couture's ongoing legal battle with the UFC. The Y! poll has a one-year inactivity clause; if Couture doesn't fight by Aug. 25, he'll lose eligibility until he fights next.
8. Miguel Angel Torres
Weight class: Bantamweight (WEC bantamweight champion)
Hometown: E. Chicago, Ind.
Record: 34-1 (won past 15)
Last month's ranking: 10
Most recent result: def. Yoshiro Maeda, TKO R3, June 1
Analysis: If Torres was a light heavyweight, he would have long since been ranked in the top 5. Torres' breakthrough has been one of the great MMA stories of 2008, a tale of a world-class fighter getting his long-overdue respect. Torres' win over Maeda was one of the most complete displays of MMA skills seen in quite some time; as a result, he more than doubled his points total from last month.
7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Weight class: Heavyweight (UFC interim heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil
Record: 31-4-1 (won past 3)
Last month's ranking: 6
Recent results: def. Tim Sylvia, R3 submission, Feb. 2
Analysis: Make no mistake about it, Nogueira is still one of the world's great heavyweights, but he's presiding over what has once again become the UFC's weakest division. Up and comers like Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar have the potential to reinforce the 265-lb. class down the road, but in the interim, the loss of former champs Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski make for a sharp decline underneath Big Nog.
6. Fedor Emelianenko
Affiliation: Free agent
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 27-1 (1 no-contest; won past eight)
Last month's ranking: 4
Most recent result: def. Hong Man-Choi, R1 submission, Dec. 31.
Analysis: A quick reminder to Fedor's fans before they fire off their email rants: This is a poll of the best fighters in June 2008. Not 2004, 2005 or 2006. Fedor has slid down the rankings because of a lack of activity against top-notch competition. He has a chance to show he belongs rated higher next month when he fights two-time former UFC champion Tim Sylvia in Anaheim, Calif. It will be Fedor's first real test against a heavyweight in 18 months.
5. Urijah Faber
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.
Record: 21-1 (won past 13)
Last month's ranking: 7
2007 results: def. Jens Pulver, unanimous decision, June 1
Analysis: There's a reason why the WEC and the Versus network have hitched their hype machine to "The California Kid." Fans are catching on to the fact that when Faber competes, they're going to be treated to a fighter who can submit Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, bang with punchers and come up with unique escapes for precarious situations.
4. Quinton Jackson
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC lt. heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Record: 28-6 (won past four)
Last month's ranking: 3
Most recent result: def. Dan Henderson, unanimous decision, Sept. 8
Analysis: "Rampage" has been rated as high as No. 2, but has fallen a bit mainly due to inactivity. Jackson can make his case on July 5 with an impressive showing against the underrated Forrest Griffin.
3. B.J. Penn
Points: 119 (one first-place vote)
Weight class: Lightweight (UFC lightweight champion)
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 13-4-1 (won past three)
Last month's ranking: 5
Most recent result: def. Sean Sherk, R3 TKO, May 24
Analysis: Penn answered all the questions with his thorough beatdown of Sherk. He answered the questions about his conditioning, as he looked just as strong at the end of the third round as he did at the start of the fight. And by keeping the fight standing, Penn proved he has what it takes to beat an elite opponent with his standup. The greatness long predicted by Penn's fans is finally coming to fruition.
2. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 139 (two first-place votes)
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 16-2 (won past three)
Last month's ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Matt Serra, R2 TKO, April 19
Analysis: GSP defends the welterweight title against Jon Fitch in August, but most of the chatter in the business is about opponents in other weight classes. Fans have clamored for a fight with world No. 1 Anderson Silva. But now lightweight champ Penn wants another crack at St. Pierre. Penn lost to GSP at welterweight back at UFC 58. If St. Pierre takes care of business, it would seem one match or the other needs to happen.
1. Anderson Silva
Points: 153 (13 first-place votes)
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 21-4 (won past seven)
Last month's ranking: 1
Most recent result: def. Dan Henderson, R2 submission, March 1
Analysis: Still no word on the next opponent for Silva. "The Spider" was reportedly at UFC 84 in Las Vegas, attempting in vain to pitch a boxing match against Roy Jones Jr. With UFC's big cards booked through the summer, the company's September debut in Atlanta would seem a natural spot for Silva's next fight.
More • Votes for others: Shinya Aoki 9; Lyoto Machida 5; Kid Yamamoto, Wanderlei Silva 2; Mauricio Rua, Jon Fitch, Chuck Liddell 1.
• Upcoming matches for top-10 fighters: No. 4 Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin, July 5; No. 6 Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia, July 19.