’s Pound-for-Pound Top 10

Jul 17, 2009
This is a big summer for MMA’s pound-for-pound big three.

Georges St. Pierre was first on deck at UFC 100 and made his case as to why he should be seen as the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter. Throwing even more dirt on his April 2007 loss to Matt Serra, St. Pierre dominated another elite challenger in Thiago Alves for the balance of 25 minutes. St. Pierre’s victory was so consummate that it left many wondering if it was worth his time and talent to stick around at 170 pounds.

The next move belongs to heavyweight ruler Fedor Emelianenko, who will finally square off with Josh Barnett at Affliction “Trilogy” on Aug. 1 in a bid to prove he’s the sport’s supreme being. A week later, at UFC 101, incumbent king Anderson Silva will have his chance to answer his fellow pound-for-pound stalwarts when he looks to add a third division of brilliance to his career resume in a super fight against former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.

1. Anderson Silva (24-4)
With another brilliant performance from Georges St. Pierre, and another top heavyweight on the slate for Fedor Emelianenko, the pressure is on Silva to prove he is, in fact, the sport’s pound-for-pound king. At UFC 101 on Aug. 8, his 205-pound bout with Forrest Griffin will afford him a unique opportunity: a win over the former UFC light heavyweight champion would make Silva the first man in the sport’s history with top five-caliber victories across three weight classes. He started his career as a standout welterweight before becoming the most dominant middleweight in mixed martial arts history.

2. Georges St. Pierre (19-2)
On paper, Thiago Alves was supposed to be St. Pierre’s most dangerous challenger to date in the welterweight division. However, “Rush” dealt with Alves just as he has dealt with other elite welterweights, as he dominated him from bell-to-bell in an impressively one-sided unanimous decision win over yet another top opponent. St. Pierre’s performance was such that many have started to question whether or not a move to middleweight should be in the cards. However, the next challenger for the sport’s welterweight ruler will come from either Mike Swick or Martin Kampmann, who will square off in a title eliminator at UFC 103 in September.

3. Fedor Emelianenko (30-1, 1 NC)
Emelianenko’s long-awaited bout with Josh Barnett will headline Affliction “Trilogy” on Aug. 1. Though many have criticized the relative dearth of top heavyweight talent and Emelianenko’s opponent selection as knocks against his pound-for-pound status, his fight with Barnett will mark the Russian’s third consecutive match against a top 10 former UFC heavyweight champion. However, in unfortunate news for MMA’s heavyweight king, the fan-proposed guerilla tactic of chanting Emelianenko’s name at UFC 100 never got off the ground.

4. Lyoto Machida (15-0)
With his brilliant display of dominance in capturing the UFC light heavyweight title and the 205-pound mantle in May, Machida had already built instant anticipation for a showdown with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. However, Jackson instead opted for a second coaching stint on “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will set up a bout with Rashad Evans. Yet, in a testament to the depth of the UFC and the 205-pound division itself, consensus “Fighter of the Year” Mauricio “Shogun” Rua emerged as Plan B for Machida’s first UFC title defense at UFC 104 in October.

5. Miguel Torres (37-1)
There’s little rest for a king, and bantamweight ruler Torres is proof positive. After emerging victorious in his thrilling 25-minute war with Takeya Mizugaki in April, Torres will take on undefeated challenger Brian Bowles at WEC 43 on Aug. 9. That show will also feature a de facto title eliminator between hot up-and-comers Joseph Benavidez and Dominick Cruz, the winner of which figures to meet Torres before the year ends -- just like clockwork.

6. Mike Thomas Brown (22-4)
Of any pound-for-pound entrant on this list, Brown may be the least vibrant and least tailor-made for stardom. However, the 33-year-old American Top Teamer remains, without question, the king of the 145-pound world, and reaffirmed it in June when he earned a second win over Urijah Faber. Despite gritting out a 25-minute unanimous verdict over “The California Kid,” Brown’s biggest test may be yet to come. His next title challenger come November will be brutal Brazilian dynamo Jose Aldo, possibly the most dangerous fighter the division can offer.

7. Quinton Jackson (30-7)
Many fans and critics still see Jackson through the prism of July 2008 vehicular insanity. However, for whatever poor judgment he has exercised outside the cage, inside it, Jackson is 4-1 against five straight top 10 opponents in one of MMA’s deepest divisions. Now, the colorful and charismatic 205-pound standout will captain his second squad of TUFers on Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will lead up to a high-profile December showdown with fellow former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.

8. B.J. Penn (13-5-1)
Talent has never lacked with Penn, only his desire and focus. His desire to move back up to 170 pounds to challenge Georges St. Pierre in January was not only unsuccessful, but it also put the UFC’s lightweight class on an extended hiatus. However, the division is poised to get back on track come Aug. 8, when, at UFC 101, Penn will take on a top five challenger, Kenny Florian, in the second defense of his lightweight mantle.

9. Rashad Evans (13-1-1)
The first defense of Evans’ UFC light heavyweight belt in May was disastrous, as he was dominated from pillar to post by Lyoto Machida. Fortunately for the Greg Jackson pupil, he remains in a star-laden and talent-rich division. Better still, Evans’ comeback fight will come in a high-profile showdown against a fellow pound-for-pound entrant, as he will take on fellow “The Ultimate Fighter 10” coach Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in December.

10. Jon Fitch (19-3, 1 NC)
Though seldom flashy, Fitch wins. By gritting out a unanimous verdict over tougher-than-expected and previously unbeaten Brazilian Paulo Thiago at UFC 100, Fitch upped his record in the UFC to an impressive 10-1. More importantly, those 11 fights have come in arguably MMA’s deepest and most talented division. He may not ever make Sportscenter’s top 10, but he will likely remain in the welterweight top 10 and beating elite opponents for a good while.

* With Fitch’s win over Paulo Thiago and Thiago Alves’ loss to Georges St. Pierre, the formerly ninth-ranked Alves falls just outside of the top 10.