Saturday, April 9, 2011

Top Ten in MMA; who and why?

For years in boxing, the argument of who is the sport "pound for pound" best has always been waged. With the fast ascent of Mixed Martial Arts the last few years and the addition of more weight classes, that same argument is now waged in MMA. While this is strictly an opinionated matter and everyone has differing views, let me give you my take as to whom and more importantly why, I currently consider my top ten pound for pound best in MMA.

Across every one's list, there is little argument as to who is at the top; the only dispute you will find is who should be number one Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre (pictured above)? My choice is:

1.) Georges St. Pierre - UFC Welterweight (170 lbs.) Champion (21-2, 8 KO's 5 subs)

Arguably the sports most popular fighter, 'GSP' or Rush', as he is called, is at the top of his game. His last loss came exactly four years ago during his first title reign. Since that time he's reeled off eight straight wins against some of the sports best, including a title winning revenge victory against Matt Serra. His current streak is against a who's who within the division. If there is one argument against him, it's that he's only had three finishes in those eight victories. People construe it as being gun shy; I argue that he just fights smart. Not quite 30 years old yet, he is just hitting his prime.

2.) Anderson Silva - UFC Middleweight (185 lbs.) Champion (28-4, 16 KO's 5 subs)

Hard to imagine a fighter who has not lost in over five years and is currently riding a 14 fight win streak could be second in anything, but that is where I place 'The Spider'. A total package of dynamite, whether it is standing or on the ground, Silva has dominated the last five years, including a couple of non-title fights @ 205 lbs. However, his competition level, as a whole, over that time doesn't add up to St. Pierre's. Add to that, the fight against Sonnen where he lost 23 of 25 minutes, along with his very lackluster performance against Demian Maia and that is why he is second here.

3.) Jose Aldo - UFC Featherweight (145 lbs.) Champion (18-1, 12 KO's 2 subs)

Only 24 years old, this kid is a machine that destroys the competition. His last loss was in 2005; since then, 11 straight wins including seven finishes in his last eight fights. His only decision in that run was a complete decimation of renowned Urijah Faber. The last WEC featherweight champ, he's been hampered by injury lately, thus delaying his UFC debut. However, that will come in three weeks against Mark Hominick where the world should see what I'm talking about.

4.) Eddie Alvarez - Bellator Lightweight (155 lbs.) Champion (22-2, 12 KO's 7 subs)

I know I'll get some flack for this one, but in my opinion I rate him this high because I think he's currently the best lightweight in the world. Sure, people will argue he hasn't fought the greatest competition in Bellator, but that doesn't mean he's not better than his peers at this weight. With seven straight victories the last two plus years, he's had finishes in six of those fights, including dominating wins against former UFC cover boy Roger Huerta and highly respected Josh Neer. Extremely fast hands and feet well versed on the ground and built like a truck for this weight, my only hope is that someday he can prove what I already believe to be so.

5.) Jon Jones - UFC Light-Heavyweight (205 lbs.) Champion (13-1, 8 KO's 3 subs)

Nicknamed 'Bones', Jones should be nicknamed 'Freak', because at a legit 6'4" and a UFC historic 84" wingspan, he is a freak of nature for this weight class. Granted, he just became champion, but he did so in convincing fashion over one of the unquestioned best in the world. With only 14 fights, over half have been in the UFC, where he's dominated the competition, and his only loss was a disqualification in a fight he was easily winning. It won't be long before he's challenging for number one on this list.

6.) Nick Diaz - Strikeforce Welterweight Champion (24-7, 12 KO's 8 subs)

The first of three Cesar Gracie fighters in this list, Diaz may be the only legit challenger outside the UFC to St. Pierre at 170 lbs. and with the recent purchase of Strikeforce by Zuffa, we may actually see it happen somewhere down the line. A former UFC stalwart, Diaz has grown immensely as a fighter since his days in the Octagon. Currently on a nine fight win streak over three years, it should grow to ten before the nights over.

7.) Dominic Cruz UFC Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Champion (17-1, 6 KO's 1 sub)

He may be small in weight, but at 5'8", he is tall for this weight class. 'The Dominator' has been dominant over the best in the world in this division, suffering his only loss four years and nine wins ago against Urijah Faber at featherweight. Only 25 years old and getting better every fight, an eventual rematch with Faber may be imminent now that 'The California Kid' has dropped down to 135lbs.

8.) Frankie Edgar - UFC Lightweight Champion (13-1-1, 2 KO's 3 subs)

Much respect to Edgar, who is clearly a featherweight fighting @155lbs. He's handled everyone the UFC has thrown at him, including two wins over the legendary B.J. Penn. However, his only loss and draw are to the same man, Gray Maynard; some even argue he lost the second fight with Maynard. The two will settle the score in a third go round this summer. Alvarez's size and strength is why I rate him above Edgar at lightweight.

9.) Gilbert Melendez - Strikeforce Lightweight Champion (18-2, 10 KO's 1 sub)

The guy everyone would love to see Alvarez fight, 'El Nino' is a top flight grappler from the renowned Cesar Gracie camp. However, I don't think his stand-up game compares to Alvarez's and his competition level overall isn't much better either. Ironically, tonight he's defending his title against tough Tatsuya Kawajiri, but it will be his first fight in a year when he looked great against Dream lightweight champ Shinya Aoki. Thus, for these reasons is why I rate him the third best lightweight on this list.

10.) Jake Shields - UFC #1 Welterweight Contender (26-4-1, 3 KO's 10 subs)

The only non-champion on this list, that is only because he is a recent entry to the UFC. Shields has held world titles in five different organizations, most recently in Strikeforce. He is the third Cesar Gracie fighter on this list, which says something about their camp. Before you marvel at Silva's current win streak, Shields is riding 15 consecutive victories over six years. He will challenge St. Pierre in three weeks at UFC 129.

Before you ask how a top ten pound for pound list would not include at least one heavyweight, hear me out. UFC Champion Cain Velasquez, while great, still has had only nine pro fights. Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem has not been active enough in MMA lately to merit consideration and Fedor Emelianenko who topped this list for years, has lost his last two fights in a row.

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