Griffin Win Stirs Sherdog P4P Rankings

Jul 11, 2008
An update to the sport's pound-for-pound outlook was not expected before last weekend. Forrest Griffin (Pictures) changed that.

Quinton Jackson (Pictures), courtesy of wins over former pound-for-pound entrants Chuck Liddell (Pictures) and Dan Henderson (Pictures), had cemented himself as the top fighter in arguably MMA's top division and as one of the foremost fighters in the sport. However, it was Griffin who walked out the UFC champion last Saturday night in Las Vegas, and courtesy of enormous back-to-back wins over both Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and now Quinton Jackson (Pictures), Griffin is the greatest success story of "The Ultimate Fighter" series.

His entrance into these rankings also signals a notable exit.

While Griffin professes to not being the most talented fighter in the world, his hard work has paid off handsomely with major wins. On the flipside, Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto is one of the purest, most natural talents MMA has seen thus far. Yet the previously 10th-ranked Yamamoto falls out of the pound-for-pound top 10 due to a recent resume that is weaker than his contemporaries' accomplishments. With Dream set to kick start its new featherweight class, though, Yamamoto may soon finally get the chance to fight the top fighters befitting his talent.

1. Anderson Silva (21-4-0)

While his vocal desire to box Roy Jones Jr. may have been a proud pipe dream, Anderson Silva's competitive wishes have paid off. He won't be stepping into the ring with Jones, but Zuffa has opted to allow MMA's middleweight king to test his pound-for-pound meddle. On July 19, Silva will step up to 205 pounds to take on the erratic but powerful James Irvin (Pictures). On top of his encounter with Irvin, the last man to defeat Silva, Yushin Okami (Pictures), waits in the wings for a middleweight title clash this fall. Yet that's not the end of Silva's schedule, as Patrick Cote (Pictures) has earned a crack at the UFC 185-pound throne as well. There's plenty of Silva to go around, and that's mighty hard to gripe about.

2. Georges St. Pierre (Pictures) (16-2-0)

It's finally good to be Georges St. Pierre again. In April the 170-pound ruler destroyed Matt Serra (Pictures) -- the man who had tipped over his apple cart in 2007 -- claiming full ownership of the UFC welterweight championship in the process. St. Pierre is again placed in the high stature he held before Serra crushed him, rising from third to second in these rankings with Quinton Jackson (Pictures)'s loss to Forrest Griffin. With a seemingly endless row of quality competitors, "Rush" will begin at the front of the line with Jon Fitch (Pictures) on Aug. 9 in a fantastic 170-pound clash. But first, St. Pierre will look to beat out a field of boxers to win the 2008 Best Fighter ESPY award later this month.

3. Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures) (27-1-0, 1 NC)

The fall of Quinton Jackson sees "The Last Emperor" rise from fourth to third on this list. However, despite whatever numeral appears beside his name, it is paramount for the sport's premier heavyweight to put on a performance against Tim Sylvia (Pictures) on July 19. Emelianenko has not faced a top-flight heavyweight since his August 2005 encounter with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. As a result, a vintage display from the Russian is important. Furthermore, with his management stating that Emelianenko will see action in both October and December, an impressive victory would go a long way in building hype for future engagements.

4. B.J. Penn (Pictures) (13-4-1)

Penn is perhaps MMA's biggest dreamer. In recent interviews, the lightweight kingpin has discussed not only his want for a rematch with Georges St. Pierre for welterweight supremacy but also his desire to move up to 185 pounds and clean out the middleweight division. That said, perhaps if anyone is fit to have such ambitions, it's Penn, who even in the face of a globally deep lightweight class seems to outclass the rest of the field. Whether his next bout is a lightweight title defense against the winner of August's Kenny Florian (Pictures)-Roger Huerta (Pictures) clash or a second go-around with Georges St. Pierre, Penn will inevitably be in for the sort of high-profile fights that have formed the bulk of his career. In the meantime, Penn rises from fifth to fourth with the loss of Quinton Jackson.

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) (31-4-1, 1 NC)

The last two seasons of "The Ultimate Fighter" have not ended well for the reigning UFC champions. Nogueira will look for rosier results than Matt Serra and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson when he opposes Frank Mir (Pictures) on the forthcoming eighth season of the UFC's reality series. However, more pertinent to these rankings is the exodus of heavyweight talent from the UFC, which leaves few top-caliber opponents for "Minotauro" to tangle with. For now, Nogueira rises from sixth to fifth with Griffin taking out Jackson, but Nogueira's future as a pound-for-pounder is touch-and-go.

6. Urijah Faber (Pictures) (21-1-0)

Once upon a time, many MMA fans questioned whether lightweights could be stars in MMA. Now, only a few years later, Urijah Faber has become the first real sub-lightweight star in North American MMA. His June 1 Sacramento homecoming could not have gone more swimmingly. In the biggest featherweight fight the sport has seen to date, Faber dominated Jens Pulver (Pictures) in the most impressive win of his career. There's no question now who rules the 145-pounders, and, most importantly, there is a wealth of fights to be made as more top featherweight talent heads to the WEC in search of the paydays they couldn't get before, and for a crack at "The California Kid."

7. Miguel Torres (Pictures) (33-1-0)

Perhaps 2008's foremost breakout fighter, Torres began the year as an unknown outside of the most ardent hardcore fans, became WEC champion and then put the bantamweight division on the map with his June 1 fight-of-the-year candidate against Yoshiro Maeda (Pictures). Now he rises from eighth to seventh in these rankings with the tumble of "Rampage." Torres fights in a fashion that exemplifies the virtues of bantamweights in MMA. Much like fellow WEC standout Urijah Faber, he has only begun to scratch the competitive surface within the division. With the WEC being the sub-lightweight gold standard, there is plenty of sterling competition to come for the curiously coifed bantamweight king.

8. Forrest Griffin (Pictures) (16-4-0)

A year and a half ago, fans and pundits alike had cast Forrest Griffin into perceived terminal mediocrity. Now we are no longer discussing a hollow "star" but rather a fighter whose hard work and dogged determination have paid off richly with wins over two pound-for-pound campaigners in Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to earn the UFC light heavyweight championship. While the real test in the ultra-competitive light heavyweight division will be to reign as champion, Griffin debuts in these pound-for-pound rankings at No. 8 by defying everyone's expectations, save for maybe his own.

9. Quinton Jackson (Pictures) (28-7)

Following his loss to Griffin, "Rampage" said he had thought going into the fight that he would begin to respect his opponent if he made it to the third round with him. Like many of the MMA populace, Jackson must now have a much deeper respect for Griffin's game, as he dropped his title in disappointing, even if controversial fashion. His pound-for-pound stature is partially buoyed by victories over former P4P standouts Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson, but with his loss to Griffin, Jackson falls from second to ninth in the ever-fickle rankings.

10. Takanori Gomi (Pictures) (28-3, 1 NC)

No lightweight has accrued more top wins within the division over his career than Takanori Gomi. However, the former Shooto and Pride lightweight king is now in the opposite scenario: With a deep lightweight division split between the UFC and Dream, Gomi resides as the ace within World Victory Road's Sengoku. While the forthcoming lightweight tournament will go a long way to produce a quality challenger, Gomi's Aug. 24 bout, and future engagements, will inevitably leave fans wishing he was in the Octagon, or at least a different ring. With Forrest Griffin's entry into the pound-for-pound realm, Gomi stumbles from ninth to 10th.
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