UFC Total Rankings: October 2008

I typically publish these rankings after the major UFC event of each month, but the scheduling of major events on back-to-back weekends in October forced me to delay these longer than I’d like. As a result, there are three shows worth of changes included here: Fight Night 15, UFC 89 and UFC 90. The November rankings will be published after UFC 91 in just over two weeks.

Before we start, here’s a brief disclaimer:

I call these UFC Total Rankings because they are based on a bunch of factors: win-loss record, method of victory, competition the fighter is facing, and the push given to them by the UFC matchmakers. I try to picture each weight class in the same way that Joe Silva or Dana White would, which means I factor in marketability, current drawing power and other things that rankings typically don’t account for.

They are wholly my opinion and should be treated as such. Champions are given top billing because they are champions and regarded by the company and mainstream fans as the best in their division by the company, regardless of the skills or overall record. This means that if a fighter ranked #7 one month defeats the champ for the belt, he will automatically jump to the #1 ranking. If a weight class has an interim champion, that fighter will assume the second position, with everyone else following. 

A complete archive of my fighter rankings can be found here. These rankings are also published at Inside Fights and on my Houston Chronicle UFC blog.

 

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UFC Rankings: August 2008

HEAVYWEIGHT

1. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Champion)
2. Fabricio Werdum
3. Frank Mir
4. Gabriel Gonzaga
5. Brock Lesnar
6. Cain Velasquez
7. Cheick Kongo
8. Shane Carwin
9. Heath Herring
10. Jake O’Brien

NOTES: Lesnar moves up significantly after his decimation of Heath Herring at UFC 87. In only his third MMA fight, Lesnar completely dominated a guy who’s been in the ring or cage with Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett and Mirko Cro Cop. He dropped Herring with a vicious right hand in the opening moments and controlled the fight from beginning to end. He’ll likely face Mark Coleman next, which will do nothing for him in these rankings, but will likely showcase him winning in quick and brutal fashion. He’ll need to develop finishing skills before he’s considered a true contender, however.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

1. Forrest Griffin (Champion)
2. Quinton Jackson
3. Lyoto Machida
4. Chuck Liddell
5. Anderson Silva
6. Wanderlei Silva
7. Rashad Evans
8. Mauricio Shogun Rua
9. Thiago Silva
10. Sokoudjou

NOTES: The only movement in this division is Anderson Silva making his debut after knocking James Irvin into next year with a single punch in his light heavyweight debut. Silva will be moving back and forth between this division and middleweight, so I will include him in both rankings. His next light heavyweight fight is unknown.

MIDDLEWEIGHT

1. Anderson Silva (Champion)
2. Yushin Okami
3. Dan Henderson
4. Patrick Cote
5. Michael Bisping
6. Damien Maia
7. Martin Kampmann
8. Nate Marquardt
9. Thales Leites
10. Jason MacDonald

NOTES: The major movement in this division comes from Damien Maia, who displayed brilliant jiu-jitsu in a match with Jason MacDonald at UFC 87. With a few more wins under his belt, Maia could be seen as a contender for the middleweight title.

WELTERWEIGHT

1. Georges St. Pierre (Champion)
2. BJ Penn
3. Jon Fitch
4. Thiago Alves
5. Matt Serra
6. Matt Hughes
7. Diego Sanchez
8. Karo Parisyan
9. Mike Swick
10. Marcus Davis

NOTES: B.J. Penn makes his debut in these rankings by virtue of his move to challenge Georges St. Pierre for the title in December…Jon Fitch remains high at #3 for a gutsy performance against Georges St. Pierre, who dominated Fitch for five rounds but couldn’t finish him.

LIGHTWEIGHT

1. BJ Penn (Champion)
2. Kenny Florian
3. Sean Sherk
4. Tyson Griffin
5. Roger Huerta
6. Joe Stevenson
7. Frankie Edgar
8. Clay Guida
9. Nate Diaz
10. Melvin Guillard

NOTES: Kenny Florian moves into the virtual #1 contender’s role after his technically masterful humbling of Roger Huerta at UFC 87. Florian will not receive an immediate shot at Penn due to Penn’s move to the welterweight division, and they’ll likely keep him busy by having him fight Sean Sherk in the meantime. If Florian beats Sherk, he’s virtually guaranteed a title shot in 2009.

POUND FOR POUND

1. Anderson Silva (Middleweight Champion)
2. Georges St. Pierre (Welterweight Champion)
3. BJ Penn (Lightweight Champion)
4. Forrest Griffin (Light Heavyweight Champion)
5. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Heavyweight Champion)
6. Quinton Jackson
7. Chuck Liddell
8. Fabricio Werdum
9. Lyoto Machida
10. Wanderlei Silva

NOTES: No movement in these rankings. I’m a big believer that someone must actually lose in order to be demoted in pound for pound rankings. There is the potential for big movement in the rankings over the rest of the year, with matchups between St. Pierre/Penn and Liddell/Griffin on the horizon.

UFC rankings – July 2008

Welcome back to my monthly UFC rankings. These have been on hiatus since March due to time constraints on my part, but they’re back and will be posted monthly after UFC PPV’s take place. They will be colocated between my blog and Inside Fights.

HEAVYWEIGHT

1. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Champion)
2. Fabricio Werdum
3. Frank Mir
4. Gabriel Gonzaga
5. Heath Herring
6. Cheick Kongo
7. Brandon Vera
8. Brock Lesnar
9. Shane Carwin
10. Cain Velasquez

NOTES: Noguiera maintains the top spot and will do so until his December fight with Frank Mir…Fabricio Werdum was mysteriously passed over for a title shot in favor of Mir, but he’s the unquestioned number one contender in this depleted division and will likely face the winner of the Nog/Mir fight. The UFC likely doesn’t want two non-English speaking coaches with little to no personality on The Ultimate Fighter, which is why we’re seeing Mir get the slot on that show and the title fight instead of Werdum…Gabriel Gonzaga submitted Justin McCully in the first round of a prelim fight underneath Griffin and Jackson…Brock Lesnar has a chance to move up significantly after his fight with Heath Herring next month…Shane Carwin took the Houston Alexander route into the top ten after displaying scary punching power in his debut.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

1. Forrest Griffin (Champion)
2. Quinton Jackson
3. Lyoto Machida
4. Chuck Liddell
5. Wanderlei Silva
6. Rashad Evans
7. Shogun Rua
8. Thiago Silva
9. Keith Jardine
10. Rameau Sokoudjou

NOTES: After beating Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson in back to back fights, Forrest Griffin is now the king of the best division in the UFC. He will likely defend his belt in December against the winner of the Liddell/Evans fight in September…Rampage only falls one spot due to the close decision loss to Griffin…Lyoto Machida ranks highly, but probably won’t get a title shot in 2008 due to his style. He’s a very tough guy to beat, but he’s also very tough to watch due to his points-based fighting style. He’s going to need at least one dramatic finish in order to get a title shot, but if he does so, it will be very tough for the UFC to continue to overlook him…Chuck Liddell faces Rashad Evans in September, and if he wins he will likely face Forrest Griffin in a huge money match in December…Wanderlei Silva meets Thiago Silva in October and could then fight Rampage for a potential title shot down the line…Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will make his debut in this division on July 19, and could potentially jump into the top of the rankings with the sort of decisive win he’s known for. Silva will fight in both divisions for the foreseeable future.

MIDDLEWEIGHT

1. Anderson Silva (Champion)
2. Rich Franklin
3. Yushin Okami
4. Dan Henderson
5. Patrick Cote
6. Michael Bisping
7. Martin Kampmann
8. Nate Marquardt
9. Demian Maia
10. Thales Leites

NOTES: After running through this division, Anderson Silva is left without any credible opponents. He will likely face Patrick Cote in November, and there’s a potential money fight between he and Bisping if the Brit is able to keep winning his fights, but there’s nothing else available that fans want to see…Rich Franklin will likely leave these rankings after October, as he’s scheduled to face Matt Hamill in his return to the light heavyweight division. The move to the higher weight class is a good one for Franklin, as he’s at the point where he can beat anyone in the middleweight division except Silva, so he’s stuck…Okami is close to a title shot, but probably isn’t quite ready in the eyes of the fans at this point…There’s a good chance that UFC will fold the WEC middleweight division into the company at some point, which could set up a fight between Silva and teammate Paulo Filho. Silva has stated in the past that he does not want to fight a teammate, but has relented as of late due to the lack of challengers in the middleweight division.

WELTERWEIGHT

1. Georges St. Pierre (Champion)
2. Jon Fitch
3. Thiago Alves
4. Josh Koschek
5. Matt Serra
6. Matt Hughes
7. Diego Sanchez
8. Karo Parisyan
9. Mike Swick
10. Marcus Davis

NOTES: Jon Fitch faces St. Pierre in August, and Thiago Alves may get the next shot. Outside of that, St. Pierre has no real competition in the division, which makes it very likely that B.J. Penn will move up and challenge St. Pierre for the welterweight belt in early 2009. That fight could take place in Hawaii in a football stadium…Thiago Alves moves up to a contender’s spot after destroying Matt Hughes in June…Josh Koschek mauled Chris Lytle, but his post-fight talk centered around moving to the lightweight division, which could give that division the type of shot in the arm it needs. For better or worse, Koschek is a guy that fans love to hate and want to see beaten, and he’s going to be a real money draw if he faces Penn for the lightweight title.

LIGHTWEIGHT

1. B.J. Penn (Champion)
2. Tyson Griffin
3. Kenny Florian
4. Sean Sherk
5. Roger Huerta
6. Joe Stevenson
7. Frankie Edgar
8. Clay Guida
9. Nate Diaz
10. Melvin Guillard

NOTES: This is another division that is devoid of any real challengers to the champion. The winner of Florian/Huerta will get a shot at Penn at some point down the line, but Penn seems more concerned about vacating the division and facing St. Pierre than he does about sticking around and defending his title. A Josh Koschek fight is a possibility here, but the real money would come from having Urijah Faber move up in weight class and fight Penn. Not only would it be a fantastic fight between two of the top 5 pound for pound fighters in the world, but you’d also have a match between Tyson Griffin and Faber that could follow it. Griffin is the only man to ever beat Faber…Guillard jumps back into the rankings after his decimation of Dennis Siver. Guillard has all the tools needed to be a top fighter in the business, but immaturity has thus far prevented him from being where he wants to be…

POUND FOR POUND

1. Anderson Silva (Middleweight Champion)
2. Georges St. Pierre (Welterweight Champion)
3. B.J. Penn (Lightweight Champion)
4. Forrest Griffin (Light Heavyweight Champion)
5. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Heavyweight Champion)
6. Quinton Jackson
7. Chuck Liddell
8. Fabricio Werdum
9. Lyoto Machida
10. Wanderlei Silva

NOTES: Anderson Silva stays on top of these rankings, and could likely cement the position for the foreseeable future if he starts cleaning out the light heavyweight division in addition to the middleweight division that he’s already run through…Forrest Griffin makes a gigantic leap into these rankings after beating Rua and Jackson in successive fights. His next fight will likely be against Chuck Liddell in December. A win in that fight would give him consecutive wins over three of the best light heavyweights in history and would likely move him up another spot in these rankings…Wanderlei Silva moves into the rankings after his brutal mauling of Keith Jardine, a fight that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Axe Murderer of old has returned. He’ll face Thiago Silva in a fight with potential championship implications in November.

UFC Rankings — March 2008

These rankings are based on a plethora of factors: win-loss record, method of victory, competition the fighter is facing, and the push given to them by the UFC matchmakers. 

For a complete and up-to-date archive of my UFC fighter rankings, please click here.

POUND FOR POUND

1. Anderson Silva (Middleweight Champion)
2. Quinton Jackson (Light Heavyweight Champion)
3. Georges St. Pierre (Interim Welterweight Champion)
4. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Interim Heavyweight Champion)
5. B.J. Penn (Lightweight Champion)
6. Dan Henderson
7. Forrest Griffin
8. Chuck Liddell
9. Rich Franklin
10. Mauricio Rua

NOTES: No movement in the pound for pound rankings. Anderson Silva destroyed Dan Henderson, but Henderson lost to the best fighter in the world, so he doesn’t drop at all…a convincing win next months for Georges St. Pierre could vault him into the number two spot…there will be lots of movement in these rankings over the next four months, as all of the men in the rankings are scheduled to fight at some point, and some of them are fighting each other.

HEAVYWEIGHT
Over 205 lbs. to 265 lbs.

1. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Interim Heavyweight Champion)
2. Fabricio Werdum
3. Frank Mir
4. Tim Sylvia
5. Heath Herring
6. Gabriel Gonzaga
7. Cheick Kongo
8. Brandon Vera
9. Brock Lesnar
10. Christian Wellisch

NOTES: Lots of movement in this list. Both Andrei Arlovski and Mirko Cro Cop are no under longer under contract to the organization and have been removed from the list. Arvloski may resign, but there’s a chance ProElite will offer him a ludicrous amount of money to fight for them, so I’m keeping him out until he returns…Heath Herring vaults from #9 to #5 with his stellar win over Cheick Kongo. There’s a chance Herring will get a shot at Noguiera, but I still suspect they’ll put Frank Mir in that fight. Kongo drops to #7 after his loss to Herring. He showed a drastically improved ground game, but had a complete inability to do anything off his back. He’ll have to work on that aspect of his game if he wants to reach the upper echelons of the heavyweight rankings…I somehow omitted both Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera in last month’s rankings. This has been rectified, and I shouldn’t feel like an idiot next month.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Over 185 lbs. to 205 lbs.

1. Quinton Jackson (Light Heavyweight Champion)
2. Dan Henderson
3. Forrest Griffin
4. Chuck Liddell
5. Mauricio Rua
6. Lyoto Machida
7. Keith Jardine
8. Wanderlei Silva
9. Rashad Evans
10. Houston Alexander

NOTES: Absolutely no movement in this division due to UFC 82 having no meaningful light heavyweight bouts. There may be some slight movement after the next Fight Night due to Houston Alexander fighting on the card, but other than that there’s not likely to be much shuffling here until May, when Jardine will fight Wanderlei Silva and Tito Ortiz fights Lyoto Machida.

MIDDLEWEIGHT
Over 170 lbs. to 185 lbs.

1. Anderson Silva (Middleweight Champion)
2. Yushin Okami
3. Dan Henderson
4. Rich Franklin
5. Nate Marquardt
6. Chris Leben
7. Michael Bisping
8. Thales Leites
9. Ricardo Almeida
10. Jason MacDonald

NOTES: Silva remains the best fighter in the world, and there truly are no real threats to his supremacy in the current UFC Middleweight division…Yushin Okami vaults to #2 in the rankings with his savage KO of Evan Tanner, and he’ll likely get the next shot at Silva unless The Spider moves to the light heavyweight division. Okami stands zero chance against Silva and it’s a match that probably shouldn’t headline a PPV, but in a depleted division it’s the best option they have unless they sign Matt Lindland or somehow convince Silva to fight Black House teammate Paulo Filho. Judging from Silva’s reaction to the suggestion of that fight, it doesn’t seem very likely that it’ll happen. Silva is huge on honor and friendship and something tells me that Dana won’t be able to throw money at this fight and make it happen like he does with everyone else…Henderson only falls to #3, mostly due to the fact that this is a severely depleted division. He also lost to the best fighter in the world, so it doesn’t hurt him as much as a different loss would…Chris Leben jumps to #6 in the rankings with his TKO over division newcomer Allessio Sakara. There’s a chance he could get a rematch with Silva for the belt, but it’s not likely, as even Leben would have to realize that he stands zero chance against the current champion.

WELTERWEIGHT
Over 155 lbs. to 170 lbs.

1. Georges St. Pierre (Interim Welterweight Champion)
2. Matt Serra (Welterweight Champion)
3. Jon Fitch
4. Josh Koschek
5. Matt Hughes
6. Diego Sanchez
7. Karo Parysian
8. Marcus Davis
9. Thiago Alves
10. Mike Swick

NOTES: I had a lot of complaints last month from folks wondering why I slotted St. Pierre above Serra when Serra is the champion. Here’s the reasoning: St. Pierre is the interim champion, and that belt is equal to the regular belt at this point. Just as in the heavyweight division, where Big Nog is the interim heavyweight champion, the interim title is still a world title and should be regarded as such. St. Pierre is far better than Serra, so he gets #1. It won’t matter after April, anyway, because the two will meet at UFC 83 to unify the belts…Jon Fitch moves into the virtual #1 contender role with his win over Chris Wilson. It wasn’t the typical dominating Fitch performance, but not all fights are, and he was impressive enough in grinding out the win that he punches his ticket to meet the winner of St. Pierre/Serra…Josh Koschek makes the most movement in the division after a fantastic win over Dustin Hazelett. Koschek showed a much-improved striking game and ended Hazelett’s night with a leaping high kick that basically finished the fight. Another win over a top contender will likely put Koschek on the verge of a title shot…Matt Hughes falls to #5, mostly because two guys jumped over him. There are rumors going around that Hughes will move to the middleweight division and fight Anderson Silva, but I can’t see them doing that until after they do Hughes/Serra. That’s a money fight that’ll be over a year in the making by the time it happens, and I don’t think they’ll just abandon it in order to find a new challenger for Silva.

LIGHTWEIGHT
Over 145 lbs. to 155 lbs.

1. B.J. Penn (Lightweight Champion)
2. Sean Sherk
3. Kenny Florian
4. Frankie Edgar
5. Roger Huerta
6. Tyson Griffin
7. Joe Stevenson
8. Joe Lauzon
9. Thiago Tavares
10. Spencer Fisher

NOTES: No movement in this division due to lack of meaningful fights. Sherk and Penn will fight in May and several others in the rankings are fighting before then, so I expect this division to drastically change over the next two months.