1. Anderson Silva (33-4)
Now into the third month of 2013, “The Spider” still has no clear target for his next opponent. The usual suspects -- Chris Weidman, Georges St. Pierre and Jon Jones -- remain in play, but nothing is set in stone for the 37-year-old champion, who has not competed since he toyed with Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153.
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)
As he recovers from a torn labrum, Weidman continues to angle for a showdown with Anderson Silva. Recently, UFC President Dana White said the promotion was targeting that very matchup was being targeted for July, but don’t hold your breath until the bout agreements are signed.
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, including an expected encounter with former Strikeforce ruler Luke Rockhold on May 18.
5. Yushin Okami (29-7)
Japan’s top MMA export scored a major win in front of a partisan crowd on March 3, stifling the dangerous striking of Hector Lombard with two rounds of top control at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Saitama, Japan. Okami withstood a third-round surge from the Cuban slugger and hung on to take a split decision.
6. 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, Brazil. The Brit will not have too long to dwell on that defeat, however, as he will lock horns with fellow fallen contender Alan Belcher on April 27 in the UFC 159 co-main event.
7. Mark Munoz (12-3)
Munoz appeared to be 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 entered the cage since.
8. Luke Rockhold (10-1)
Injuries have kept Rockhold on the shelf since he successfully defended his Strikeforce middleweight strap against Tim Kennedy on July 14. The American Kickboxing Academy representative will battle Vitor Belfort in his Octagon debut on May 18 in Brazil.
9. Brian Stann (12-6)
After a September decision loss to perennial top 10 middleweight Michael Bisping, Stann moved up to 205 pounds for a headlining match against Wanderlei Silva at UFC on Fuel TV 8. While the U.S. Marine likely gained fans for his part in a frantic slugfest, it was Silva who ultimately landed the home run shot and handed Stann just the second knockout loss of his career.
10. Constantinos Philippou (12-2, 1 NC)
Philippou formally announced his presence in the middleweight division with a TKO triumph over Tim Boetsch at UFC 155. The competition becomes even fiercer for the Serra-Longo Fight Team member in his next outing, as he takes on former Strikeforce 185-pound kingpin Ronaldo Souza at UFC on FX 8.
Other contenders:Tim Boetsch, Hector Lombard, Jake Shields, Alexander Shlemenko, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
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