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411 MMA Rankings 12.04.12: Middleweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 12.04.2012






Welcome to the weekly 411mania check into the world of MMA rankings. As we close another year, it's worth taking a brief look back at where the middleweight division has gone in 2012. Anderson Silva has been the lone consistent shining light since 2006 and much like the five previous years, we've seen a long line of contenders come and go.

If you look at the top 6 middleweights 11 months ago, all but Silva went undefeated this year. Indeed, on January 3, after Silva were Chael Sonnen, Yushin Okami, Mark Munoz, Hector Lombard and Vitor Belfort. The lot of them went a combined 2-5 since then, while Sonnen has jumped up to light heavyweight (and Belfort took a fight at 205, too). I guess we can only hope the top 6 fighters this month have better luck when the time comes to say goodbye to 2013.

Yes, Silva is hoping upon all else that Georges St. Pierre accepts his challenge no matter how unlikely that seems today. Aside from the champion and a fighter or two elsewhere who are out with injuries, this division is picking up plenty of steam. Next month in Brazil, Michael Bisping will fight Vitor Belfort and if the Brit has his way, an interim-champion will be decided.

This month however, will see plenty of action among the top 15. Tim Boetsch is now fighting Constantinos Philippou at UFC 155, the same night Yushin Okami and Alan Belcher will battle. Meanwhile, on December 14, Hector Lombard returns to the cage to fight Rousimar Palhares in a fight both men need to create some fresh momentum.

Also of note in this division is the Strikeforce show on January 12 and even though Luke Rockhold is nursing his wrist, Jacare Souza is back to take on Lorenz Larkin (who when not training is busy dishing insults to Rockhold via Twitter). Although he received an honorable mention in the rankings today, Roger Gracie is also in action that night (as are a million other fighters, with just a hint of exaggeration).

I almost forgot, how about Cung Le?! He went into the UFC's debut in China with a bum leg courtesy of his previous fight with Patrick Cote but proceeded to knockout Rich Franklin in quick fashion. Instead of people talking bout Le calling it a career, that dialogue moved to the former school teacher. Could 2013 be further continuation of Cung's tremendous 2012 which saw him go 2-0 in the UFC?

Thanks for checking us out here in the 411 MMA Zone, enjoy our latest rankings.





Feedback to last week's light heavyweight rankings:

From Cause I Can:
So none of these guys couldve fought Jones?
In the eyes of the UFC, they wanted Jones to push the ratings on TUF when they move back to a weekday slot. Chael Sonnen is their answer for someone who can entice viewers to watch because of his penchant for getting a rise out of people.

From Brian:
Good list. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira doesn't deserve a shot at Evans in my book - not sure what Evans has to gain from the fight. LHW is a fun division.
I'm not sure whether Lyoto Machida was ever an option or if he was, whether Evans was interested in that fight. Other than that, there is not much of a selection to choose from. Evans is not going to fight Ryan Bader (no point) or Phil Davis (he already won), so Lil Nog is the next man up. The fact Rashad is coming off the loss to Jon Jones puts him in a funky situation until he gets 2-3 wins under his belt (assuming he sticks at 205).

From MPMoore:
I like the list.
I feel it's where it should be, but I kinda see Johnny's point as well about Evans.
But, Evans at 4 is a good slot for him and after he beats Lil Nog (which he will), he should be one away from another stab. If Gustaffson and Hendo both win, there's gonna be a log jam of sorts. I would say give us Jones vs Hendo next fall (after Jones KTFOs Chael) and have Evans vs Shogun/Gustafsson fight for next, unless Gustafsson beats Shogun and opts to sit and wait, which wouldn't be a terrible idea, I guess... but that leaves Evans floating around in no man's land. Maybe he can stomp on Griffin again for funsies? Just don't make him fight Davis again...
And, who says beating Shogun in any fashion other than dominantly earns Gustafsson next title shot? Maybe he's two away, especially if he takes some serious damage in a close decision or whatever. Then there's the flip side, Jones vs Shogun II is meh, so if he wins, where does he sit?
And if Machida wins over Hendo, this whole picture is flip-flopped.
Basically, Jones has ASilva'd the division and I'm kinda depressed. Rematches really don't look exciting since Jones was so dominant in most of those wins and the fresh faces, I feel, are just not ready, outside of the Hendo fight, of course. When Jones moves up, the picture will be a little better.
That log jam doesn't even consider the possibility that Anderson Silva fights Jon Jones in 2013. Lots of guys who are deserving of shots here, but not enough time to suit them all. There are all kinds of scenarios based on who wins these fights ranging from: Bones vs. Gustafsson, Rashad vs. Machida (Henderson and Shogun 2?) or Bones vs. Hendo, Rashad vs. Gustafsson and who knows what to do with Lyoto and Shogun in that case.

From Johnny Durrant:
Rashad overlook...again. Nothing new there from 411. Explain to me how a guy that has only lost two fights in his entire career is in fourth and behind Shogun and Henderson of all people? It's sheer madness. One of those losses was to Machida, who at the time nobody had figured out and people didn't really know how to beat him. The second loss was to the current champion, a guy that has dominated almost all of his opponents, and that was a decision loss.
There's no real doubt what so ever that Rashad should be second on the list, but as usual on here, he's overlooked and underrated.
The loss to Lyoto Machida is why Rashad Evans is not #2. The fact is that Shogun Rua has the win over Machida and his only losses recently are against Jon Jones and Dan Henderson, who make up #1 and #2 at the moment. Should Rashad get a pass over Shogun considering he is 4-1 in his last five fights? Perhaps, but these top guys have to fall into place somehow.

From wylun:
good list, but shogun at #3?! w/ a win loss, win loss record, only beating griffin and vera... i dont get it
The win over Machida is keeping him at #3, which between he and Rashad is the most impressive win either man has had amongst their past 5 fights.

From Jonfw2:
3 of the top 5 already have losses to the 25 year old champ. Good Lord.
The numbers will only continue to grow as long as Jones fights in this weight class. Barring a well placed punch or a perfect submission hold, it's difficult to see anyone controlling the champion for a prolonged period.

From LitasBiggestFan:
Jones
Henderson
Rashad
Lyoto
Shogun.
How do you explain Machida over Shogun? Lyoto deserves the spot based on wins against Couture and Bader? Obviously, Shogun's two wins against Forrest Griffin and Brandon Vera aren't overwhelming…so that leaves their last fight when Rua knocked him out, no?


Thanks for all the feedback, comments, questions and etcetera. It's always appreciated!




RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
(11.15.11)


1. Anderson Silva

2. Chael Sonnen

3. Yushin Okami

4. Mark Munoz

5. Hector Lombard

6. Vitor Belfort

7. Michael Bisping

8. Brian Stann

9. Demian Maia

10. Luke Rockhold

11. Alan Belcher

12. Jacare Souza

13. Chris Leben

14. Tim Kennedy

15. Rousimar Palhares





411's MMA Ranking Rules

- Which fighters are eligible for these rankings? They must meet the following qualifications: fight at least once in the past 365 days or if they have not, be officially scheduled for an upcoming fight.

- A fighter serving a disciplinary suspension will not be ranked. They can return when they have served their suspension or in the event it is rescinded. This includes fighters who may disregard their suspension locally to fight overseas.

- If a fighter appears on just one single ballot, and in the top ten, five points will be deducted to balance between other fighters who may be ranked lower, but appear on a greater amount of ballots.

- Want to complain about a fighter's ranking in the comments section? Please include an objective reason why you despise the list, and try your best to bring the rest of us to your way of thinking.

* denotes a statistical tie



411's Official MMA Rankings: Middleweight Division


Middleweight Division (185 pounds)







1) Anderson Silva (31-4)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: April 14, 1975

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Stephan Bonnar - Win via TKO (knee and punches) - UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar - October 13, 2012

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Win via TKO (knee and punches) - UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen - July 7, 2012

- vs. Yushin Okami - Win via TKO (punches) - UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami - August 27, 2011

- vs. Vitor Belfort - Win via KTFO (front kick) - UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort - February 5, 2011

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Win via submission (triangle armbar) - UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen - August 7, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Anderson wants him some of Georges St. Pierre. The welterweight champion is not too excited at that proposition, at least not as long as Silva wants the fight at middleweight or 178-pounds. Right now, I'd label the odds of this fight happening at 75% negative. Based on the weight issue, there's very little for GSP to gain in the hypothetical fight.

If Silva cannot coax St. Pierre to fight him, if he's looking for a monster fight, the only other option is light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Otherwise, he can prepare to defend the 185-pound championship against someone from a list that includes Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Tim Boetsch, Luke Rockhold or Alan Belcher in the spring or summer.




2) Chris Weidman (9-0)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: June 17, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Mark Munoz - Win via KO (elbow and punches) - UFC on Fuel: Munoz vs. Weidman - July 11, 2012

- vs. Demian Maia - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox 2: Evans vs. Davis - January 28, 2012

- vs. Tom Lawlor - Win via technical submission (D'arce choke) - UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson - November 19, 2011

- vs. Jesse Bongfeldt - Win via submission (standing guillotine choke) - UFC 131: dos Santos vs. Carwin - June 11, 2011

- vs. Alessio Sakara - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Versus: Sanchez vs. Kampmann - March 3, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Injured (shoulder)

Comment: Weidman recently underwent successful surgery to repair his shoulder which was injured while training to fight Tim Boetsch later this month. According to the fighter, if he suffers no setbacks, he may be back as early as the spring.




3) Michael Bisping (23-4)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: February 28, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Brian Stann - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox 2: Evans vs. Davis - January 28, 2012

- vs. Jason Miller - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC TUF 14 Finale - December 3, 2011

- vs. Jorge Rivera - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch - February 27, 2011

- vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama - Win via decison (unanimous) - UFC 120: Bisping vs. Akiyama - October 16, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Vitor Belfort - UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping - January 19, 2013

Comment: Bisping can be heard of late urging UFC brass to use an interim-middleweight championship next year for Bisping/Belfort with the assumption that Anderson Silva won't compete at 185 for the foreseeable future. Unless Georges St. Pierre agrees before UFC on FX 7 to fight Anderson (doubtful), don't expect the UFC to heed the Brit's thoughts.

Meanwhile, Bisping has a tough task ahead of him in the form of "The Phenom" Vitor Belfort who still possesses dynamite for hands. If Bisping can stop the Brazilian, he may be the only middleweight that could interest Silva in defending his crown next year.




4) Tim Boetsch (16-4)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: January 28, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Hector Lombard - Win via decision (split) - UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao - July 21, 2012

- vs. Yushin Okami - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - February 26, 2012

- vs. Nick Ring - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage - September 24, 2011

- vs. Kendall Grove - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill - May 28, 2011

- vs. Phil Davis - Loss via submission (Mr. Wonderful) - UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida - November 20, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Constantinos Philippou - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez - December 29, 2012

Comment: With Weidman's injury, Boetsch is now set to fight his teammate in Philippou. The New Yorker may not have as big of a name as Weidman to us yet, but he's been on a hell of a run since fighting in the UFC's middleweight division. He is 4-0 with wins against Jorge Rivera, Jared Hamman, Court McGee and Riki Fukuda. As for Boetsch, we know his 2012 has been spectacular with a pair of wins against top-5 fighters. Although everyone knows he's not getting a crack at Anderson Silva, what may happen if an interim-championship does come into the fold is anyone's guess.




5) Luke Rockhold (10-1)


Height: 6'3

Birthday: October 17, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Tim Kennedy - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy - July 14, 2012

- vs. Keith Jardine - Win via TKO (strikes) - Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine - January 7, 2012

- vs. Jacare Souza - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov - September 10, 2011

- vs. Paul Bradley - Win via TKO (knees) - Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs. Hashi - February 26, 2010

- vs. Jesse Taylor - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Evangelista - November 6, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- Injured (wrist)

Comment: Despite the fact Strikeforce has been promoting Rockhold on their 1/12 show, the reigning middleweight champion never signed to fight. According to him, his wrist injury has not healed and he was confused as to the promotion's motives. Now, it's all but confirmed that the next time we see the American Kickboxing Academy-product in a fight, he'll be inside the octagon in the UFC.




6) Vitor Belfort (21-10)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: January 4, 1977

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jon Jones - Loss via submission (americana) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Anthony Johnson - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes - January 14, 2012

- vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz - August 6, 2011

- vs. Anderson Silva - Loss via KTFO (front kick) - UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort - February 5, 2011

- vs. Rich Franklin - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 103: Belfort vs. Franklin - September 19, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Michael Bisping - UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping - January 19, 2013





7) Mark Munoz (12-3)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: February 19, 1978

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Chris Weidman - Loss via KO (elbow and punches) - UFC on Fuel: Munoz vs. Weidman - July 11, 2012

- vs. Chris Leben - Win via TKO (corner stoppage) - UFC 138: Leben vs. Munoz - November 5, 2011

- vs. Demian Maia - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 131: dos Santos vs. Carwin - June 11, 2011

- vs. C.B. Dolloway - Win via KO (punches) - UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann - March 3, 2011

- vs. Aaron Simpson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida - November 20, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





8) Alan Belcher (18-6)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: April 24, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Rousimar Palhares - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller - May 5, 2012

- vs. Jason MacDonald - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger - September 17, 2011

- vs. Patrick Cote - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun 2 - May 8, 2010

- vs. Wilson Gouveia - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez - December 12, 2009

- vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 100 - July 11, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Yushin Okami - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez - December 29, 2012





9) Brian Stann (12-5)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: September 4, 1980

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Michael Bisping - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Alessio Sakara - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC on Fuel: Gustafsson vs. Silva - April 14, 2012

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Loss via submission (arm triangle choke) - UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 - October 8, 2011

- vs. Jorge Santiago - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill - May 28, 2011

- vs. Chris Leben - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 125: Resolution - January 1, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





10) Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (16-3)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: December 7, 1979

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Derek Brunson - Win via KO (punch) - Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman - August 18, 2012

- vs. Bristol Marunde - Win via submission (arm triangle choke) - Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey - March 3, 2012

- vs. Luke Rockhold - Loss via decision (unanimous) - Strkeforce: Barnett vs. Kharitonov - September 10, 2011

- vs. Robbie Lawler - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg - January 29, 2011

- vs. Tim Kennedy - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Houston - August 21, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Lorenz Larkin - Strikeforce: Champions - January 12, 2013

Comment: Souza will fight Lorenz Larkin on the Strikeforce finale next month and it's both an intriguing fight considering each man's strengths, but also from the perspective that neither man wants to go to the UFC off of a loss. Souza is one of the most dangerous submission fighters in the sport, but also has power in his hands and an overall well-rounded set of strengths. Larkin is a kick boxer by nature and has a great mix of speed and strength since settling down at middleweight.




11) Yushin Okami (27-7)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: July 21, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Buddy Roberts - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2 - August 11, 2012

- vs. Tim Boetsch - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - February 25, 2012

- vs. Anderson Silva - Loss via TKO (punches) - UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami - August 27, 2011

- vs. Nate Marquardt - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami - November 13, 2010

- vs. Mark Munoz - Win via decision (split) - UFC on Versus 2 - August 1, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Alan Belcher - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez - December 29, 2012





12) Hector Lombard (32-3-1)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: February 2, 1978

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Tim Boetsch - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao - July 21, 2012

- vs. Trevor Prangley - Win via TKO (strikes) - Bellator 58 - November 19, 2011

- vs. Jesse Taylor - Win via submission (heel hook) - Australian Fighting Championship 2 - September 3, 2011

- vs. Falaniko Vitale - Win via KO (punch) - Bellator 44 - May 14, 2011

- vs. Joe Doerksen - Win via TKO (Doctor Stoppage) - CFC 16: Lombard vs. Doerksen - March 25, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Rousimar Palhares - UFC on FX 6: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson - December 14, 2012

Comment: Lombard is putting the finishing touches on his preparation for Palhares in Australia in 10 days. In a land he considers a second home, Hector will look to put all memories of his subpar UFC debut in the rear view mirror. An impressive win and at least some can be forgotten as he'll look to emerge out of the UFC pack of middleweights in 2013.




13) Cung Le (9-2)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: May 25, 1972

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Rich Franklin - Win via KO (punch) - UFC on Fuel: Macao - November 10, 2012

- vs. Patrick Cote - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2 - July 7, 2012

- vs. Wanderlei Silva - Loss via TKO (knee and punches) - UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson - November 19, 2011

- vs. Scott Smith - Win via KO (spinning back kick and punches) - Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum - June 26, 2010

- vs. Scott Smith - Loss via KO (punches) - Strikeforce: Evolution - December 19, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Cung surprised everyone with his first round knockout win against Rich Franklin last month in China. It was easily his most impressive showing since he broke Frank Shamrock's right am and became Strikeforce champion in 2008.




14) Mamed Khalidov (26-4-2)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: July 17, 1980

Currently Fighting With: KSW

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Kendall Grove - Win via submission (achilles lock) - KSW 21 - December 1, 2012

- vs. Rodney Wallace - Win via KO (punch) - KSW 19 - May 12, 2012

- vs. Jesse Taylor - Win via submission (kneebar) - KSW 17 - November 26, 2011

- vs. Matt Lindland - Win via technical submission (guillotine choke) - KSW 16 - May 21, 2011

- vs. James Irvin - Win via submission (armbar) - KSW 15 - March 19, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Since settling into KSW in Poland last year, Khalidov has continued his success as the best European middleweight not in the UFC or Bellator.




15*) Tim Kennedy (14-4)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 1, 1979

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Luke Rockhold - Loss via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy - July 14, 2012

- vs. Robbie Lawler - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson - July 30, 2011

- vs. Melvin Manhoef - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson - March 5, 2011

- vs. Jacare Souza - Loss via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Houston - August 21, 2010

- vs. Trevor Prangley - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Strikeforce: Los Angeles - June 16, 2010

- vs. Zak Cummings - Win via submission (north-south choke) - Strikeforce Challengers 3: Kennedy vs. Cummings - September 25, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Trevor Smith - Strikeforce: Champions - January 12, 2013





15*) Alexander Shlemenko (45-7)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: May 20, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Minowaman - Win via TKO (strikes) - SFL 2 - April 7, 2012

- vs. Julio Paulino - Win via decision (unanimous) - FEFoMP - Battle of Empires - December 17, 2011

- vs. Vitor Vianna - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 57 - November 12, 2011

- vs. Brian Rogers - Win via TKO (knees) - Bellator 54 - October 15, 2011

- vs. Zelg Galesic - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - Bellator 50, September 17, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Maiquel Falcao - Bellator - TBA





Closing Comments: Roger Gracie, Lorenz Larkin and Rousimar Palhares received additional votes.

Chael Sonnen was removed from our middleweight rankings based on the fact he has moved up to light heavyweight (he's scheduled to fight Jon Jones in April).

Jake Shields was not eligible because he's serving a suspension for a failed drug test.





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