1. Anderson Silva (33-4)
If the champion himself is to be believed, Silva is going to spend much of 2013 on the sidelines. With potential opponents either injured (Chris Weidman), knocked off (Michael Bisping) or in need of a few more wins to get back into title contention (Vitor Belfort), the picture for Silva’s return has yet to clear up one month into the new year.
2. Chael Sonnen (27-12-1)
Sonnen nearly sneaked his way into a UFC 151 title shot against light heavyweight king Jon Jones, but the champion balked at the fight on short notice. However, after Jones dispatched Vitor Belfort, the ever-talkative Sonnen managed to gab his way into a coaching spot on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 and a shot against “Bones” in April. Not bad for a guy who has not fought at 205 pounds in more than six years.
3. Chris Weidman (9-0)
Weidman had an ideal fight set for UFC 155 against potent veteran Tim Boetsch, a man who was unbeaten at middleweight. Unfortunately, a shoulder injury took the Serra-Longo Fight Team representative off of the Dec. 29 bill. That left Constantinos Philippou to face Boetsch and “The All-American” waiting to build on his growing hype at 185 pounds.
4. Vitor Belfort (22-10)
While bookmakers and fans alike had Belfort pegged as a slight favorite against Michael Bisping, few could have seen the ending of their Jan. 19 bout coming. The 35-year-old “Phenom” used a left high kick and follow-up punches to knock Bisping out of title contention. However, Belfort’s chances at a rematch with Anderson Silva will depend on the outcome of his next few fights.
5. Michael Bisping (23-5)
Once again on the verge of challenging Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight belt, Bisping had his title dreams snuffed out by way of a Vitor Belfort head kick on Jan. 19 in Sao Paulo. It was just the second stoppage loss in 28 fights for the Brit, who will have to put in some serious work to get back toward the front of the line in the deepening 185-pound division.
6. Mark Munoz (12-3)
Munoz appeared on the brink of contention after four straight wins against Chris Leben, Demian Maia, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson. The title talk came to a screeching halt in July, when the former Oklahoma State University wrestler was dealt a bloody knockout at the hands of unbeaten up-and-comer Chris Weidman. Munoz has not since entered the cage.
7. Yushin Okami (28-7)
Okami did what Okami does at UFC 155. Japan’s top MMA export was back in fine form in his rematch with Alan Belcher, running a grappling clinic against the muay Thai stylist and securing a unanimous decision after three rounds.
8. Luke Rockhold (10-1)
Rockhold was scheduled to defend his Strikeforce middleweight title against Lorenz Larkin on Jan. 12, but, once again, the bout was nixed. This time, it was a wrist injury that put the champion on the sidelines. Fortunately for Rockhold, it gives him time to heal before an inevitable UFC debut.
9. Brian Stann (12-5)
Stann came up short against Michael Bisping in September, but the Silver Star recipient’s high profile and action-oriented style will always keep him in big fights. Up next, Stann meets one of the most exciting fighters in MMA history, Wanderlei Silva, at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan for UFC on Fuel TV 8 on March 3.
10. Constantinos Philippou (12-2, 1 NC)
Philippou enters the rankings after recording the most significant win of his career at UFC 155. Despite a strong start by opponent Tim Boetsch, Philippou stormed back in the latter periods, taking full advantage of a hand injury and vision-impairing cut on the forehead of “The Barbarian” to eventually punch out Boetsch in round three.
Other contenders:Tim Boetsch, Hector Lombard, Jake Shields, Alexander Shlemenko, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Continue Reading » MMA Welterweight Rankings