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The Pound-for-Pound #1 Pound-for-Pound Rankings: Jose Aldo and Jake Shields Arrive on the Scene

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These are the unquestionable, undeniable, infallible and illogical rankings of yours truly, the only rankings that actually matter. After every big shake-up in the rankings, I’ll do another installment of the P4P #1 P4P rankings. In the interim, however, assume this is the law of the land.

1. Anderson Silva

Silva’s win over Demian Maia at UFC 112 left many fans in an uproar over his choice to taunt Maia rather than finish him off. No matter the opinions over Silva’s antics, there is still no proof that anyone at middleweight can remotely challenge him. Couple that with his eviscerating two fighters--one of them a former champ--above his weight class, and it’s difficult to dispute that he is the best mixed martial artist on the planet right now.

2. Fedor Emelianenko

I’ll admit that I’m ranking Fedor this largely due to past accomplishments. But, it cannot be disputed that his last three opponents (Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers) have done nothing to lower his stock. I can’t demote Fedor simply because of inactivity, especially when those below him have done nothing to demand being promoted.

3. Georges St. Pierre

For some time now, St. Pierre has threatened to surpass Fedor and slid into the number two spot behind Silva. I think a large part of the reason that I can’t rank him above Fedor or Silva is that ever since reclaiming the undisputed welterweight title from Matt Serra in 2008, his fights have rarely been exhibitions of the so-called "wow-factor". Did he dominate Jon Fitch? Yes. Did he manhandle BJ Penn and Thiago Alves? Yes. Did he make Dan Hardy his plaything? Again, yes. But all of those fights were workmanlike performances that displayed none of the dynamism present in the two men above him.

4. Lyoto Machida

I was always a skeptic of Machida, considering the success a fat-yet-still-outweighed BJ Penn had against him some years ago in Rumble on the Rocks. He was, however, quite dominant in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division and was undoubtedly a terrifying champion after claiming the title with a surgical dissection of Rashad Evans. His first defense against Mauricio Rua was a challenge no one expected him to have difficulty with, and when he did, the aura of invincibility he had cultivated quickly evaporated. While Machida certainly didn’t look bad in the fight, it just proved that he wasn’t head-and-shoulders above the division as many had thought.

5. Shogun Rua

Shogun, once the darling of the 205lb. division, fell from grace after poor performances against Forrest Griffin and Mark Coleman. After a rehabilitated knee and a knockout of Chuck Liddell, he was thrown into a title shot against Machida. Given hardly a chance, Shogun displayed a refined Muay Thai that stymied Machida’s as-of-yet unsolved style. Many, including myself, thought Shogun won the fight. The score will be settled at UFC 113.

6. BJ Penn

Prior to UFC 112, conventional wisdom said that Penn’s grip on the lightweight division was as ironclad as those of Silva and GSP, if not more so. And despite it seeming that Penn had damaged Frankie Edgar, his challenger on that card, more than vice versa, Edgar’s frenetic activity won him a decision. Penn didn’t look himself in that fight but made no excuses for his performance. He’ll get a chance to make up for it later this year at UFC 118.

7. Jose Aldo

I was hesitant to put Aldo in this list until last night when he made Urijah Faber—an all-time great still in the prime of his career—look like he shouldn’t be in the same cage. Aldo, at just 23 years of age, took the title from Mike Brown barely breaking a sweat. He didn’t put away Faber despite offering the referee many opportunities to stop the fight, especially in the fourth round, but that is also a testament to Faber’s heart. The Brazilian kid is damn fast, and might just be a pint-sized Anderson Silva in the making.

8. Jake Shields

Until a week ago, I had never remotely considered Shields a guy I’d put on my pound-for-pound list. But what this natural welterweight did to Dan Henderson was just amazing, completely dominating the fight after swallowing two thunderous shots in the first round. He appeared to be the one with the Olympic wrestling credentials, pushing through on every shot with relentless aggression until he could get Hendo down. And when he got the legend down, his BJJ cut through Henderson’s guard like butter and culminated in mount every time. His striking leaves something to be desired, but with a resume of wins over top-ten fighters from Paul Daley and Carlos Condit to Robbie Lawler and Yushin Okami, Shields looks poised to arrive in the UFC and continue proving his doubters wrong.

9. Frankie Edgar

Edgar was the most difficult person to put on this list, but it’s hard to deny him after the win against BJ Penn. A win in their rematch will solidify his spot, as would the subsequent challenges of Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard, who dealt Edgar his only loss.

10. Brock Lesnar

Sidelined for almost a year with diverticulitis, Lesnar is poised to begin his ascent up these rankings when he faces the heavy-handed Shane Carwin at UFC 116. The winner of that match faces the gauntlet of Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, and, dare I say it, Roy Nelson over the course of the next two years or so.