While the top halves of most divisions remained the same in February, there was movement and more than a few surprises among the contenders in several weight classes.
Perhaps the biggest shocker came at 205 pounds, where Emanuel Newton undid the best-laid plans of Spike TV and Bellator MMA by knocking out Muhammed Lawal in their Feb. 21 tournament semifinal. The win garners Newton a spot on our light heavyweight contenders list and opposite Mikhail Zayats in the upcoming tourney final, but just as importantly, it takes “King Mo” -- Bellator’s highest-profile free agent signing of late -- out of the running for a title shot.
Joining the ranks of the contenders at 170 pounds is Strikeforce import Robbie Lawler, who made his Octagon return a memorable one by halting Josh Koscheck on first-round strikes at UFC 157. Koscheck’s exit from the top 10 makes way for young gun Rory MacDonald, who was slated to compete at UFC 158 before a neck injury wiped him from the card.
At middleweight, Yushin Okami moves into the No. 5 spot thanks to his gritty win over Hector Lombard at UFC on Fuel TV 8. Brian Stann, who fell via knockout to Wanderlei Silva in the March 3 card’s main event, retains his place in the 185-pound ranks, since his bout with “The Axe Murderer” came at 205 pounds.
Finally, Cub Swanson cracks the featherweight top 10 in this update after a decisive Feb. 16 victory against Dustin Poirier. The Jackson’s MMA product replaces Erik Koch, who drops to the contenders list after suffering a sound defeat to Ricardo Lamas on Jan. 26.
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