1. Cain Velasquez (11-1)
Velasquez is back on top of these rankings, having reclaimed his UFC belt and the title of MMA’s top big man with a sterling performance at UFC 155. Though it went the full five rounds, the outcome of Velasquez’s rematch with Junior dos Santos was really never in question, as the former Arizona State Sun Devil battered and outwrestled the Brazilian throughout to earn a unanimous decision. Up next for Velasquez is likely the winner of UFC 156’s Alistair Overeem-Antonio Silva matchup.
2. Junior dos Santos (15-2)
Dos Santos suffered his first loss inside the Octagon and just the second setback of his career in a five-round drubbing at the hands of Cain Velasquez. The proficient boxer who punched his way to the UFC heavyweight title was nowhere to be seen on Dec. 29, as “Cigano” was kept on his back foot and knocked around by the man whom he had punched out 13 months prior.
3. Alistair Overeem (36-11, 1 NC)
The Dutch “Demolition Man” remains suspended through December after failing a random drug test in Nevada with elevated testosterone levels. However, the news is not all bad for Overeem: the 32-year-old striker will return to the Octagon on Feb. 2, when he meets Antonio Silva at UFC 156.
4. Fabricio Werdum (16-5-1)
In his first fight on home soil in eight years, Werdum was sensational at UFC 147 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. “Vai Cavalo” stormed Mike Russow out of the gate, knocking him down and out in a little more than two minutes. Werdum now finds himself on the cusp of serious UFC title contention. His next assignment will come in a rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira after the two men coach opposite one another on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 2.
5. Daniel Cormier (10-0)
Cormier’s attempts to fulfill his Strikeforce contract have been trying to say the least. After injury forced Frank Mir out of their slated bout on Nov. 3, Cormier waited several weeks for a replacement opponent. Instead, one was never found and further injuries to the event eventually forced its cancellation. Before moving to the UFC, Cormier will fulfill his obligations to Strikeforce on Jan. 12 in a matchup with surging Dutchman Dion Staring.
6. Frank Mir (16-6)
There was considerable excitement when it was announced that the former UFC heavyweight champion would meet unbeaten Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce. However, their Nov. 3 clash fell apart due to an undisclosed Mir injury, leaving the Las Vegas fighter in limbo for the time being.
7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (34-7-1, 1 NC)
Though he was expected to triumph, “Minotauro” nonetheless thrilled the fans inside the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 153, easily besting an overmatched Dave Herman on the feet before tapping him with an armbar in the second round. Nogueira may be in the twilight of his career, but as Brazil’s most beloved MMA fighter, the ultra-popular former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder will keep catching marquee fights in the UFC. He will next face Fabricio Werdum in a rematch in June following their stint as opposing coaches on Season 2 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.”
8. Antonio Silva (17-4)
Reeling after two crushing defeats to Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez, Silva’s back was against the wall as he entered his Oct. 5 bout with the unbeaten Travis Browne as an underdog. However, “Bigfoot” came through in a big way, popping Browne with punches in the first round and getting his first UFC win. Silva will confront a far more formidable challenge in his next outing, as he squares off with Alistair Overeem at UFC 156 on Feb. 2.
9. Josh Barnett (31-6)
After more than a decade away, former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett is more or less set for a UFC return. The last step for “The Warmaster” is to ride out the rest of his Strikeforce deal, which will be fulfilled after his perfunctory Jan. 12 date against Austria’s Nandor Guelmino.
10. Mike Russow (15-2, 1 NC)
Russow received the A-list opponent for which he was looking at UFC 147, but the Chicago policeman looked out of his depth in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It took less than half a round for former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Fabricio Werdum to drop Russow standing and punctuate the bout on the canvas for a quick-and-dirty first-round knockout win. He will look to rebound on Jan. 26, when he answers the bell against Shawn Jordan in Chicago.
Other contenders:Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson, Ben Rothwell, Stefan Struve.
Continue Reading » MMA Light Heavyweight Rankings