Friday, April 20, 2012

Champion vs. Champion, who is the best? Part V

Though the first four parts of this comparative look of the various champions in the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator has produced definitive choices for the top spot in my opinion, there has been some reason for argument on behalf of the runners up. In this part five segment where I evaluate the titleholders in the middleweight (185 lbs.) division, there is no debate.

That is because in this weight class we have arguably the most dominant champion that has ever existed in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. I say arguably because there have been a couple of others such as Matt Hughes at welterweight (170 lbs.) and his successor Georges St. Pierre who have had equally impressive stretches as champion.

However, as great as those two have been, both did incur losses during their championship runs; although both were able to regain their titles. However, current UFC titleholder Anderson Silva has never been defeated since obtaining gold in October 2006.

That said, here are my rankings of the current middleweight champions:

1.) UFC - Anderson Silva (31-4, 18 KO's 6 subs)

I mentioned above that 'The Spider' has not been defeated since becoming champion; truth is the last time Silva (pictured above) lost a fight was over six years ago. A fighter who began his career during the still early days of the sport back in 1997, Anderson Silva has not only grown with the sport, he's evolved with it as well. Clearly the most exciting fighter on the planet, one can argue that Silva, to date, may be the greatest MMA fighter of all-time.

Of course there are those that will dispute that Silva barely held onto his title when he faced off with Chael Sonnen back in August 2010. To those I respond by saying the key word here is "held;" because that is exactly what Silva did and he did it without any help or disputed decision by judges. Though he was out muscled and out wrestled for over 23 minutes of a 25 minute fight, he did not concede defeat and like a champion he found a way to defeat Sonnen via submission.

Outside of that, name the opponent and it's been sheer dominance; this includes stoppages of no less than four former champions and three potential Hall of Famers in Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin (@ 205 lbs.) and Vitor Belfort. Silva will get his chance to just add to his standing as the greatest and erase any doubt when he faces Sonnen in June in what should be a history making affair.

2.) Bellator - Hector Lombard - (31-2, 17 KO's 7 subs)

On May 15, 2011, I wrote a column that was entitled 'Silva's biggest threat may not be in the UFC'. The fighter I was alluding to was none other than current Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard. I made reference to the fact that Silva has not lost a fight in over six years; well nearly the same can be said about Lombard who has not lost since November 2006 and both blemishes on his record were decision losses; thus, unlike Silva, he's never been stopped.

Yet as similar as their records are, both Silva and Lombard are complete opposites in stature and style. While Silva is 6'2" and wiry, with a slick and sleek approach to fighting, Lombard is 5'9" and a muscular powerhouse. Instead of 'Lightning', I think a more appropriate nickname would be 'Toy Cannon' because that is what he resembles in his appearance and when he hits you.

The biggest question with Lombard is how long will he remain Bellator champion as his contract appears to be up? Will he re-sign with Bellator or may we possibly get the answer to my question I raised in May of last year? Time will tell.

3.) Strikeforce - Luke Rockhold (9-1, 2 KO's 6 subs)

Not only is Luke Rockhold the youngest (27) and most inexperienced of the three champions, his career didn't start till 2007; that was the year after both Silva and Lombard suffered their last defeat. However, don't let that inexperience fool you as eight of his 10 fights have taken place in Strikeforce against pretty good competition and he's undefeated in those eight fights.

He also comes from a top flight camp as he fights out of the renowned 'American Kickboxing Academy' in San Jose, California, which has produced multiple champions and contenders. Winning the title by defeating Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza and defending it once already against former UFC vet Keith Jardine, the sky appears to be the limit for Rockhold; that is assuming he can hold onto the rock. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself)

Up next in part six, it's the light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champs; question is who will be representing the UFC as their title is up for grabs this weekend?

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