Something a little different from the overall rankings, myself and Rich Wyatt, have decided to do an unofficial ranking of each division in the UFC and how and why each fighter stands where they do. Please feel free to comment and we hope to do these after every show.
#1 - Brock Lesnar (3-1) (champion): While most people will highly disagree that he's the crème of the crop in the UFC's heavyweight division, wearing that gold makes him just that. While he's massively flawed in certain areas, Brock Lesnar has above and beyond answered the call against whoever he has been put in front of. His next challenges, to avenge his first and only loss to submission master Frank Mir at UFC 100. Will Brock make the same mistake twice? Or will his ever improving game have evolved enough to put Mir away in dramatic fashion? We shall see...
#2 - Frank Mir (12-3 ) (interim champion): If anyone would have told me that Frank Mir would defeat Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, I would have smirked and looked at them crazy. If someone told me he would do it by second round stoppage, I'd laugh and ignore them. Well, that's exactly what he did in brutal and dominant fashion. Since his brutal knockout to the hands of Brandon Vera, Mir has gone 3-0 and has racked up impressive victories in each one. His next test is one he's passed before but he had better prepared for in the form of current champion Brock Lesnar. With Mir's rededication and much improved cardio/physique, this one should be a barnburner.
#3 - Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (31-5-1): Wear and tear will eventually catch up to you as age makes sure of that and the many wars Minotauro has gone through have really proven to show in his last outings. Even so, he is still one of the most well-rounded heavyweights and easily could regain the title again before hanging up the gloves. His next challenge? Randy Couture, a super fight a few years short but still very intriguing.
#4 - Randy Couture (16-9): Even though he's only fought once within the last two years, Randy Couture remains amongst the top heavyweights in the UFC's division simply because of his notable wins. While his time in the spotlight, as far as the cage is concerned, is dwindling he still has some fight left in him and we'll see how much when he faces off against Big Nog later this year. A win will probably land Couture one final shot at the heavyweight title a loss will more than likely send him back to Hollywood.
#5 - Shane Carwin (11-0): I know some people will be upset with this placing and feel Cheick Kongo is a little bit more deserving but I don't think so. Carwin is not only undefeated he beat a guy that once took Randy Couture three rounds for the UFC belt. He also did this within the first round and in brutal fashion. The fact is Carwin has been consistent throughout his UFC career, though it's been short; he's had a step up in challenge each fight and risen to the occasion. What's next for him? Not sure yet, but a big time fight I'm sure is in store that will test whether or not he's the real deal. As of now, I think he is.
Light Heavyweight Division
#1 - Lyoto Machida (15-0) (champion): This guy is a beast. Plain and simple, he did what I never thought he would/could do and that's make Rashad Evans look like an amateur. Lyoto Machida has climbed to the top of the most exciting division and he did it with sheer dominance. Will anybody be able to crack the ‘Machida Code'? I doubt any time soon. Machida will get to bask in the glory of being the champion of the light heavyweight division and could possibly coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter alongside his next opponent...
#2 - Quinton ‘Rampage' Jackson (30-7): I used that as a segue, because rumor has it that Quinton Jackson, the number one contender to the light heavyweight belt, will be next in line for a title shot as well as a coaching season for TUF. Jackson is fresh off back to back wins over top contenders in Wanderlei Silva and Keith Jardine. While his charisma has made him a star, he's going to have to get his skills up to par when he enters the octagon against the champion. If anybody in the current crop of LHW's can do it, I do believe Jackson is the one.
#3 - Rashad Evans (18-1-1): There's nothing wrong with losing. The fact that much of his career has been in the premiere MMA organization, the UFC, and since his only blemish was a draw to Tito Ortiz is saying something. Rashad got outclassed Saturday at UFC 98 but his tools and youth will keep him hovering around the title for some time. His next move, maybe to incorporate more wrestling back into his game against whoever the UFC decide to place him against. I'd like to see Rashad take on Luiz Cane, I think that'd be a good step for both those guys.
#4 - Forrest Griffin (16-5): The former champ has kind of slipped out of people's minds when it comes to contenders, but Forrest still remains strong in the division. His upcoming bout with Anderson Silva, the middleweight champion, is going to really show and prove what this guy can do. A win could cement him into the title picture immediately, a loss could keep him in the middle of the road a little longer.
#5 - Mauricio ‘Shogun' Rua (18-3): Some people might disagree that a win over two guys that are over the hill in Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell shouldn't boost your ranking, but Shogun showed shades of his former dominant self against a very capable and dangerous Chuck Liddell. A lot of people feel he could be a threat to the current champion, and if he can stay in shape and continue to display improved defense and better striking, he could very well do that. Who knows what's next for Shogun, but I'd really like to see a fight with him and Brandon Vera down the road.
#1 - Anderson Silva (24-4) (champion): Although he's going to be trying his hand again at 205, for now he remains the dominant fighter in the land of middleweights.
#2 - Yushin Okami (23-4): This one will probably be controversial. I believe Okami is a very good fighter but I definitely don't think that he's the second best middleweight in the UFC. However, he is 7-1 in his UFC run and since some of his competitors below him have had their shot at Silva and come up short, I'd give the kid the nod for this ranking right now. Besides, lots of people want to see Silva avenge that DQ loss to Okami. The guy just consistently wins and is freakishly strong.
#3 - Dan Henderson (24-7): Danny can still get it done at the highest level. He'll get a big test in July against Bisping, but I'd love to see him get one more shot at the middleweight championship. He got off to a tremendous start in his fight with Silva last year and made it look throughout the first round that he might be on his way to a win.
#4 - Nate Marquardt (28-8-2): Nate might be one of the most underrated fighters in the world. He's dangerous in so many facets of the game and now that he's with Greg Jackson's camp, he could be one to watch out for as the heir apparent should Silva decide to stay in the land of 205ers.
#5 - Demian Maia (10-0): I know that many still have some questions about Maia, but there are few prospects in the game today that have impressed me as much as him. If Demian proves to have a good chin then he might be the next guy to run the division.
#1 - Georges St. Pierre (18-2) (champion): A Bo Jackson-like athlete with incredible skill and unbelievable conditioning. Add in the fact that he's an enormous welterweight and you have the makings of a dominant champion.
#2 - Thiago Alves (22-4): I may be in the minority here, but I still think that there is a very good chance that Thiago doesn't make weight for his title shot. I have heard rumblings that the weight drop has gotten near impossible. It would be a shame because this kid is a superb talent and is rightfully getting his big opportunity.
#3 - Jon Fitch (18-3): Put Jon in the same category as Marquardt. If this division didn't have a dominant champion running things, this guy would be my favorite to take the title. Simply a great fighter that is as tough as they come. The guy would not stop coming after GSP.
#4 - Martin Kampmann (15-2): I can't stress enough how impressed I was by the fact that he upset Condit. At welterweight I think Martin has found a home. Don't sleep on "The Hitman."
#5 - Paulo Thiago (11-0): This is another possibly controversial ranking, but I felt that his first round knockout of Koscheck made him worthy of a top five ranking. His fight with Jon Fitch in July will tell us lots more about this fighter.
#1 - B.J. Penn (13-5-1) (champion): I'm seeing more and more folks making predictions that Penn loses to Florian. I'm assuming that much of this is based off of Penn's loss to St. Pierre. I'm still sold on the guy and am of the opinion that he is as dominant in his natural weight class as just about any champion in the game. We'll find out in August if I'm right.
#2 - Ken Florian (13-3): I'm glad that Kenny's getting another shot at the title. I feel that it's well-deserved given how good he has looked in his most recent wins. He's a world-class fighter and may also have a future in broadcasting.
#3 - Diego Sanchez (20-2): Diego's talent has never been in question. I think that the drop down to 155 has done Sanchez a world of good and he is an immediate threat to anyone at this weight.
#4 - Gray Maynard (7-0): Gray showed everyone that he's the real deal against Jim Miller. That win was good enough to lift him into my top five rankings.
#5 - Frank Edgar (10-1): There has been much talk about how Sherk should have made adjustments during his match on Saturday against Edgar. Let's not let that take away from what a phenomenal job Frank did and how impressive he looked. His movement and combinations, especially, looked world-class.
Disagree? Feel free to leave your comments here.