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Sherdog Official Mixed Martial Arts Rankings
Posted on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 7:22 am
by IDMA Editor

Heavyweight

1. Cain Velasquez (9-0)

During his first week at the American Kickboxing Academy, trainers thought Velasquez was a future UFC heavyweight champion. On Oct. 21 in Anaheim, Calif., he made that a reality, blowing away Brock Lesnar in the first round to claim the UFC heavyweight crown. While he can celebrate for now, Velasquez will have to return early next year to defend his throne against fellow young heavyweight Junior dos Santos.

2. Brock Lesnar (5-2)

Following his lopsided loss to Cain Velasquez in October, the next step for Lesnar remains unclear. UFC President Dana White started laying the groundwork for a rubber match with rival Frank Mir in the media, but fans and pundits alike were quick to skewer the bout, forcing White to publicly rethink the matchup. For now, Lesnar remains without a dance partner.

3. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1)

On Aug. 18, Werdum underwent surgery and had 27 loose bone fragments removed from his left elbow. Now physically cleared to resume his training, the author of this year’s most significant upset now targets a return to action in the first quarter of 2011. He hopes to secure a fight outside of Strikeforce before meeting either Alistair Overeem or Fedor Emelianenko in a rematch.

4. Fedor Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC)

The chicanery of another Emelianenko pre-fight has begun. Emelianenko’s promoters at M-1 have openly announced their interest in fighting Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, on the condition that the Dutchman submits to Olympic-style drug testing. Naturally, little headway has been made surrounding Emelianenko’s next bout.

5. Junior dos Santos (12-1)

Dos Santos’ next step is now clear. Courtesy of Cain Velasquez’s thrashing of Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 on Oct. 23, “Cigano” will challenge Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight crown in early 2011 in a great pairing of thrilling young heavyweights.

6. Shane Carwin (12-1)

Carwin was schedueled to face “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson at UFC 125 on Jan. 1. However, due to ongoing back problems, he opted for surgery. After a successful procedure, the Colorado native looks to get back into training sometime in early 2011.

7. Frank Mir (14-5)

At UFC 119, Mir and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic underwhelmed the Indianapolis crowd for 14 minutes with a dreadful exhibition of aimless clinching. Finally, with just 58 ticks left in the fight, Mir landed a colossal knee that crushed the Croat, notching one of the least impressive highlight-reel KOs in recent memory.

8. Alistair Overeem (33-11, 1 NC)

The Strikeforce heavyweight champion’s efforts continue to come in kickboxing rather than MMA. “The Demolition Man” earned an easy first-round KO over Aussie Ben Edwards on Oct. 2 in Seoul, South Korea, to advance to December’s K-1 World Grand Prix finale in Yokohama, Japan. As for an MMA return, it remains anyone’s guess for now.

9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1, 1 NC)

Back in December 2008, Nogueira was taken out by Frank Mir in lopsided fashion. He was scheduled for a chance at redemption against Mir at UFC 119 on Sept. 25, until a hip injury struck, forcing “Minotauro” from the fight and onto the surgeon’s table.

10. Antonio Silva (14-2)

Silva’s hope was that he would get to face Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. With “The Demolition Man” dealing with his K-1 duties in December, “Pezao” will instead meet the Dutchman’s older brother, Valentijn Overeem, on Dec. 4 in St. Louis.

Middleweight

1. Anderson Silva (27-4)

At UFC 126 on Feb. 5, Silva will square off with fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort. However, should he get past his countryman, the MMA world already knows the identity of his next foe. Yushin Okami, the last man to beat Silva, albeit by disqualification, waits in the wings for the Silva-Belfort winner. If Silva takes out “The Phenom,” he will get the chance to put five years of controversy to rest in a rematch with “Thunder.”

2. Chael Sonnen (24-11-1)

The bizarre tale of Sonnen continues. He failed his post-UFC 117 urinalysis test after it revealed elevated testosterone levels and now faces a one-year suspension if his appeal is denied. Though Sonnen has formally appealed, he has yet to speak on the issue, and a potential rematch with Anderson Silva is now off the table.

3. Yushin Okami (26-5)

In the past, Okami had always let the moment get away from him in big fights. Such was the case in his clashes with Jake Shields and Rich Franklin. However, at UFC 122 in Oberhausen, Germany, “Thunder” capitalized on his opportunity. A more aggressive Okami outboxed and outwrestled the favored Nate Marquardt to earn a unanimous decision, as well as a crack at the winner of the UFC 126 bout between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.

4. Nate Marquardt (30-10-2)

Marquardt’s three-year journey to earn another shot at middleweight ruler Anderson Silva hit another speed bump in Oberhausen, Germany. For the better part of 15 minutes, Marquardt was outboxed and outwrestled by a surprisingly aggressive Yushin Okami, who took the unanimous nod and with it a UFC middleweight title shot. The defeat dropped Marquardt back into the rest of the population at 185 pounds.

5. Demian Maia (13-2)

At UFC 118, Maia dominated a tough Mario Miranda for 15 minutes and returned to the win column after his April debacle against middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The grappling ace will be back in the cage on Dec. 4, when he meets “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove at “The Ultimate Fighter 12” Finale.

6. Vitor Belfort (19-8)

After injuries canceled two scheduled title clashes with Anderson Silva in 2010, it seemed Belfort would have to go through the rugged Yushin Okami at UFC 122 to secure a UFC middleweight title shot. However, Chael Sonnen’s alleged UFC 117 drug test failure has forced the UFC to switch up Silva’s next fight, meaning Belfort will likely face “The Spider” for the gold at UFC 126.

7. Dan Henderson (25-8)

In April, Henderson’s much-anticipated Strikeforce debut ended in ennui, as he was outwrestled for the majority of his bout with Jake Shields en route to losing a unanimous verdict. The former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titleholder will return on Dec. 4, when he takes on Renato Sobral, a man who defeated him in the final of the Rings King of Kings tournament in 1999.

8. Jorge Santiago (23-8)

In a rematch of last year’s most underrated fights, Santiago and Kazuo Misaki turned in arguably the best bout of 2010 so far. The back-and-forth five-round war culminated in Santiago -- who had already been nearly knocked out and submitted in the fight -- retaining his Sengoku middleweight crown by pounding on a hapless Misaki until his corner threw in the towel.

9. Ronaldo Souza (13-2, 1 NC)

“Jacare” became a father on Aug. 20, just a day before he became Strikeforce middleweight champion by besting Tim Kennedy in Houston. The grappling king will likely return to the cage in February to make the first defense of his crown.

10. Michael Bisping (20-3)

The UFC seems keen to use Michael Bisping when it returns to Australia for UFC 127 on Feb. 27. A potential matchup with suddenly relevant journeyman Jorge Rivera could be in the cards, should Bisping accept the bout. The Rivera camp has described the fight as “95 percent likely.”

Lightweight

1. Frankie Edgar (13-1)

In August, Edgar proved he was no fluke, dominating B.J. Penn over five rounds. However, the major hurdle for Edgar will now come as we enter 2011. On Jan. 1 at UFC 125, he will defend his title for the second time, risking the strap against unbeaten Gray Maynard -- the only man to beat “The Answer.”

2. Gilbert Melendez (18-2)

With his girlfriend giving birth to their first daughter in August, Melendez is now primarily concerned with paternal duties. However, fans and media are beginning to bang the drum for a Strikeforce-versus-Bellator Fighting Championships showdown between Melendez and Eddie Alvarez -- the most attractive lightweight bout that can be made outside the UFC.

3. B.J. Penn (15-7-1)

After a pair of disheartening back-to-back losses to Frankie Edgar, Penn claims he contemplated retirement. Instead, UFC President Dana White knew how to excite “The Prodigy.” At UFC 123 on Nov. 20, Penn will meet rival Matt Hughes in a rubber match to settle his score with the man he beat for the UFC welterweight title in 2004. Hughes stopped him in their 2006 rematch.

4. Gray Maynard (10-0, 1 NC) Maynard has been vocal for months about deserving a UFC lightweight title shot. “The Bully” will finally get his chance as the year rolls over. He meets champion Frankie Edgar on Jan. 1 at UFC 125 in his own adopted backyard of Las Vegas.

5. Shinya Aoki (26-5, 1 NC)

In a no-brainer, Aoki returned to the promotion that launched his career -- Deep -- for its 10th anniversary show on Oct. 24. It took him only 60 seconds to keylock MMA neophyte Yokthai Sithoar, a former muay Thai and boxing world champion.

6. Eddie Alvarez (21-2)

In his Oct. 21 bout with Roger Huerta, Alvarez was positively destructive, using his uppercut and newly found low kicks to batter the UFC veteran and force the doctor to halt the fight after 10 minutes. Alvarez took the post-fight opportunity to call out Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, and the promotion itself further exacerbated the call for the crossover mega-fight.

7. Kenny Florian (14-5)

Florian did not fight up to expectations in August, when he had little to offer Gray Maynard in their 155-pound title eliminator. There will be no soft bounce-back fight for the Bostonian, as “Ken Flo” has signed on to face fast-rising lightweight prospect Evan Dunham in the UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” on Jan. 22.

8. Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-6-2)

Many tabbed Kawajiri to be the next Dream champion, figuring he had exactly the right skill set to replicate what Gilbert Melendez did to

Shinya Aoki in April. However, on July 10, Kawajiri spent most of the night fending off foot locks, until finally tapping out to Aoki less than two minutes into the first round.

9. Sean Sherk (36-4-1)

After 16 months on the shelf due to a plethora of injuries, Sherk returned to action at UFC 119 against unbeaten up-and-comer Evan Dunham. After a strong first round, Sherk flagged in the bout, losing in the eyes of most onlookers. However, two of three people that matter -- the judges -- sided with Sherk, who secured a crucial but highly unpopular win.

10. Evan Dunham (11-1)

At UFC 119, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth over Dunham’s controversial split decision loss to Sean Sherk. However, Dunham continues to be treated like a winner. He will meet divisional standout Kenny Florian in the main event of UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” on Jan. 22.



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