's Pound-for-Pound Top 10

Feb 3, 2009
Two Saturday fight nights in a row, two pound-for-pound stars reiterated and reinvigorated their cases to be considered the sport's pound-for-pound king.

At Affliction M-1 Global "Day of Reckoning" on Jan. 24, Fedor Emelianenko was sluggish out of the gate against an on-point Andrei Arlovski. Then, with a single overhand right, Emelianenko erased the opening three minutes and another elite heavyweight with another brutal finish.

A week later at UFC 94, Georges St. Pierre dominated nemesis B.J. Penn over four rounds in a watershed bout for mixed martial arts which helped the blossoming superstar take another step toward transcendence.

Even with these victories, debates rage over which of the sport's pound-for-pound "big three" is tops. Luckily, Emelianenko and St. Pierre are already lined up against top-three opponents come the summertime, and kingpin Anderson Silva has two top-10 opponents in his sights. May these kings never rest on their laurels.

1. Anderson Silva (22-4)
Perhaps part and parcel of being designated the sport's numero uno, the MMA populace has grown rather antsy at the prospects of Anderson Silva defending his middleweight mantle against solid top-10 contenders rather than seeking out bombastic challenges. However, prizefighting legacies are fostered through taking on all comers, and "The Spider" will face reputable opposition from once-beaten Brazilian Thales Leites in the headliner of UFC 97 in Montreal on April 18. After that, Silva has another challenger lying in wait in Yushin Okami, with the perk of Okami being the last man to take a win over Silva due to an illegal upkick disqualification three years ago.

2. Georges St. Pierre (18-2)
Dave Mandel/

Is GSP on his way
to P4P's top slot?
In the interim, the MMA world will continue to buzz over St. Pierre muay Thai trainer Phil Nurse's Vaseline indiscretions. Ultimately, however, St. Pierre's brutal bashing of rival B.J. Penn at UFC 94 will stand, which means it's on to the next megafight for the budding superstar. While his pounding of "The Prodigy" has rejuvenated his case to be considered the sport's pound-for-pound king, St. Pierre has a chance to earn yet another win over another pound-for-pound entrant when he faces top contender Thiago Alves later this year. If he's able to dominate the dynamic Alves, it would be mighty difficult to argue against St. Pierre as the sport's undisputed alpha dog.

3. Fedor Emelianenko (29-1, 1 NC)
Georges St. Pierre wasn't the only fighter to make a profound statement about his divisional dominance recently. At Affliction's "Day of Reckoning" on Jan. 24, Emelianenko faced his biggest test in three-and-a-half years when he took on a rejuvenated Andrei Arlovski, who opened up the bout with some of the most brilliant work of his career. Then, one Emelianenko overhand right put Arlovski down, face first, out cold, in brutally photogenic fashion. What is better still for MMA's enduringly dominant heavyweight is that despite the relative sparseness of the heavyweight division and Zuffa’s always-growing stable of fighters, Emelianenko still has another fantastic opponent to match up with come the summer when he'll finally take on Josh Barnett.

4. B.J. Penn (13-5-1)
His Jan. 31 drubbing at the hands of Georges St. Pierre may have been a bitter pill to swallow. However, even for Penn fans, there is a measure of sweetness, as the loss should send him back to the lightweight division, where the MMA world has wanted him to stay put for the last five years. Unless the often-erratic Penn opts for a sabbatical, Zuffa's promotional hope for "The Prodigy" is that he'll put his title on the line against Kenny Florian come June. Florian would be the first in a long line of lightweight challenges for Penn's title.

5. Miguel Torres (35-1)
The sport's bantamweight ruler looks to add to his gaudy record by taking his 17th straight victory on April 5, when he risks his bantamweight banner against unbeaten upstart Brian Bowles. After a breakout 2008 in which Torres' dynamism took the bantamweight division to the big time, his bout with Bowles is the biggest 135-pound tilt to date in the sport. Better yet, it is a homecoming of sorts for Torres. The fight headlines WEC 40 in Chicago, where the East Chicago, Ind., native put together most of his early career wins.

6. Rashad Evans (13-0-1)
While Rashad Evans' immediate future has some flexibility, neither option will be easy. Evans' teammate Keith Jardine will take on former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 96 on March 7 in Columbus, Ohio. Should Jackson best Jardine, Evans can likely look forward to Rampage at UFC 100 on July 11. Should Jackson falter, things get no easier, as Evans would then risk his 205-pound crown against enigmatic, unbeaten Lyoto Machida. C'est la vie in the sport's premier division.

7. Forrest Griffin (16-5)
After 2008 ended unceremoniously for Griffin, who was pounded out by Rashad Evans in their Dec. 27 title tilt, the former UFC light heavyweight champion's misfortunes have spilled over prominently into 2009 with a broken right hand requiring corrective surgery. Although he was originally said to be out for 2009 and likely to make an autumn return, healing has gone well. Griffin has stated that he hopes to be back by summer, and there will never be a shortage of marquee matchups for him at 205 pounds.

8. Quinton Jackson (29-7)
Quinton Jackson's bid to regain his UFC light heavyweight title and 205-pound supremacy began super-stylishly at UFC 92 in December when he destroyed arch-nemesis Wanderlei Silva in the first round. Now, Jackson faces a win-and-you're-in proposition at UFC 96 on March 7, as he was gracious enough to his employers at Zuffa to step into the main event against Keith Jardine. Should "Rampage" be victorious, he'll have earned the chance to face Rashad Evans on July 11 at UFC 100 in a major 205-pound marquee bout.

9. Thiago Alves (16-3)
Save for his scale indiscretion prior to his June bout with Matt Hughes, Alves had a sensational 2008 in ripping up three straight top-10 opponents. He is now faced with the daunting task of unseating welterweight ruler Georges St. Pierre later this year in a blockbuster of a welterweight bout. While the "Pitbull" has more than earned himself a healthy contingent of fans, his in-ring handshake with St. Pierre following the Canadian’s win over B.J. Penn more than firmed up who the fan favorite will be in their contest.

10. Mike Thomas Brown (20-4)
Despite being the sport's featherweight kingpin, it isn't rainbows ahead for Mike Thomas Brown. First, he must march into Corpus Christi, Texas, on March 1 to defend his WEC featherweight title against brutal banger Leonard Garcia, a Lubbock native who will be in his own backyard. Should Brown emerge victorious, he'll then have to prove to the world he's no fluke, as former WEC king and poster boy Urijah Faber awaits the victor for a summer showdown. Should he win both of those bouts, the world would be forced to accept Brown as a serious pound-for-pounder. Of course, that does very little about the likes of Wagnney Fabiano and Jose Aldo –- both waiting around the corner.
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