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411 MMA Rankings 12.25.12: Pound for Pound
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 12.25.2012





Merry Christmas to those celebrating today and may everyone be sure to have a healthy New Year.

Welcome to the final edition of the 411 MMA Rankings for 2012, today we run down the best of the best. The top 15 pound-for-pound fighters will be ranked by the MMA staff as we see fit. Is a certain former champion ranked too highly to close out the year? Or is the man who fell victim to (cue Joe Rogan) 'THE MACHIDA ERA' dissed? How do you see all of the UFC champions, comparing the likes of Benson Henderson to Jose Aldo or Jon Jones to Junior dos Santos and of course, Georges St. Pierre to Anderson Silva?

One thing is for certain, despite the topsy turvy nature of MMA, it takes longer than you may imagine for the best of the best to drop. After all, it seems like Dan Henderson has been a perennial figure in this debate going on over four years. It makes you wonder how many fresh names will emerge over the next 365 days. Potential fighters in that category include Daniel Cormier, Johny Hendricks and perhaps even Bellator's lone realistic candidate, Pat Curran. There are plenty more and who knows, perhaps Rory MacDonald will end up champion by the summer or Michael Bisping will shock the world against the world's best fighter. Stranger things have happened, you must admit.

From last year, three names in particular are completely off the radar heading into 2013. Between Shogun Rua, Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez, each are out of their respective title pictures for the foreseeable future. Recall this when browsing the latest rankings below, because some of the names will disappear over the next 12 months.

Thanks for reading and supporting the 411 MMA Zone and have a great week of holidays!


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Here's some feedback to last week's featherweight rankings.

From 401k:
I want to see a good fight, but I don't think Frankie has a chance.. Aldo has bigger power than Henderson and is faster than Maynard.. Frankie has a granite chin, but there's a reason he gets tagged.. It's either major holes in his defense or he is recognizing strikes too late.. Aldo can exploit either of those.. Of course betting against him at this point is crazy, but I think this time he's run into a buzzsaw that if he's dominating this time next year should consider moving to 155.. Not enough household names at 145 at the moment..
I'll agree because I don't believe Edgar will be able to beat Aldo to the punch for five rounds. Plus, he has never been one to regularly out power opponents with his wrestling, which is considered Aldo's biggest weakness.

From John Arthur:
Eh...Darren Elkins should really be on this list, seeing as how he's 4-0 in the div and he's the only FW to have a win over number 2 Pat Curran.
Sure, but their fight was at lightweight way back when. Yet, Elkin is 4-0 since dropping to featherweight. If he moves up in competition in 2013 and maintains success, no doubt you should start to see him among the top 15 (his wins came against Omigawa, Tiequan, Brandao and Siler).


Thanks for all the comments, questions, insults and more, they are always appreciated.





Rankings From One Year Ago
11.29.11


1. Anderson Silva

2. Georges St. Pierre

3. Jon Jones

4. Jose Aldo

5. Frankie Edgar

6. Dominick Cruz

7. Junior dos Santos

8. Dan Henderson

8. Jon Fitch

10. Gilbert Melendez

11. Rashad Evans

12. Nick Diaz

13. Joseph Benavidez

14. Shogun Rua

15. Urijah Faber






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 MMA Rankings


Pound For Pound



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) - UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar - October 13, 2012

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Win via TKO (knee and punches) - UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen 2 - July 7, 2012

- vs. Yushin Okami - Win via TKO (strikes) - 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: Another year is coming to an end and it's another year with Anderson Silva safely atop the list of the best MMA fighters in the world. He may be turning 38-years-old next spring, but Silva has his eyes set on big money fights. It sounds as though the only fight his camp is seriously interested in at middleweight is with Michael Bisping (if he gets past Vitor Belfort next month). Aside from that, he wants Georges St. Pierre in what would be the biggest fight in the sport's history. Of course, UFC president Dana White is not done pushing for a Silva fight with Jon Jones, either. 2013 could prove to be the most lucrative and epic year in the career of Anderson Silva.




2) Georges St. Pierre (23-2)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: May 19, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Carlos Condit - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 154: St. Pierre vs. Condit - November 17, 2012

- vs. Jake Shields - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields - April 30, 2011

- vs. Josh Koscheck - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 124: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck 2 - December 11, 2010

- vs. Dan Hardy - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy - March 27, 2010

- vs. Thiago Alves - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 100 - July 11, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Nick Diaz - UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz - March 16, 2013

Comment: GSP returned to action last month and with the help of notably larger legs, he was successful in his seventh consecutive UFC championship fight. In the days following the victory, he turned down the opportunity to move up in weight and fight Anderson Silva and he turned down the prospect of fighting Johny Hendricks. Instead, he'll welcome Nick Diaz back to the octagon in March.




3) Jon "Bones" Jones (17-1)


Height: 6'4

Birthday: July 19, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

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

- vs. Rashad Evans - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans - April 21, 2012

- vs. Lyoto Machida - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida - December 10, 2011

- vs. Quinton Jackson - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage - September 24, 2011

- vs. Shogun Rua - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones - March 19, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Chael Sonnen - UFC - April 27, 2013

- Coach on The Ultimate Fighter - Premieres on FX - Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Comment: Bones Jones will be a weekly fixture on cable TV beginning in just under 30 days as he and Chael Sonnen coach opposite one another on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. The pair will then fight over Jones' championship in April in Newark. Certainly, Sonnen has not proven to be a top contender at light heavyweight heading into the bout, but then again, that's not why he was pegged for the spot to begin with.

Jones is expected to waltz through Oregon's loudest fighter and then we'll sit and wait to see who is next on the chopping block….Gustafsson? Silva? Hendo?




4) Jose Aldo (21-1)


Height: 5'7

Birthday: September 9, 1986

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Chad Mendes - Win via KO (knee) - UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes - January 14, 2012

- vs. Kenny Florian - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 - October 8, 2011

- vs. Mark Hominick - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields - April 29, 2011

- vs. Manny Gamburyan - Win via KO (punches) - WEC 51: Aldo vs. Gamburyan - September 30, 2010

- vs. Urijah Faber - Win via decision (unanimous) - WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber - April 24, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Frankie Edgar - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

Comment: Aldo is in the middle of training for his latest featherweight title defense and whether or not he's riding motorcycles in Brazil, I cannot say. Doing just that, he was forced to pull out of a fight earlier this year, but clearly, he has ended up with one of the premiere spots on the UFC calendar, the main event of the Super Bowl weekend show. Plus, his challenger is the former lightweight champion who unseated B.J. Penn twice. Despite the fact Edgar has lost his past two fights to Benson Henderson, people have wanted to see him challenge Aldo for years. We're just over 30 days away from finally seeing the fight in Las Vegas.




5) Junior dos Santos (15-1)


Height: 6'4

Weight: 243

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Frank Mir - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 146: dos Santos vs. Mir - May 26, 2012

- vs. Cain Velasquez - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

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

- vs. Roy Nelson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen - August 7, 2010

- vs. Gabriel Gonzaga - Win via KO (punches) - UFC on Versus - March 21, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Cain Velasquez - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 - December 29, 2012

Comment: As I talked about with Anderson Silva above, dos Santos is at the precipice of a a potentially gigantic 365 days. Beginning this weekend when he looks to bat down Cain Velasquez one more time, his future prospects for challengers do not get any easier. Alistair Overeem and Daniel Cormier are the two big options you are to believe, but first of course, JDS must take care of Cain at UFC 155.

Last year, JDS had a simple target in Cain who was not moving well and had no explosiveness in his wrestling game. Well placed punches ended Cain's title reign and the Brazilian followed it up by demolishing Frank Mir in May.

There is no reason to believe Junior will not run rampant into 2013, is there?




6) Benson Henderson (17-2)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: November 16, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Nate Diaz - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox 5: Henderson vs. Diaz - December 8, 2012

- vs. Frankie Edgar - Win via decision (split) - UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2 - August 11, 2012

- vs. Frankie Edgar - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - February 26, 2012

- vs. Clay Guida - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

- vs. Jim Miller - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Versus: Hardy vs. Lytle - August 14, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Nate Diaz was on a great run to earn his title fight against Benson Henderson, but he could not do anything in their fight earlier this month. Henderson was in 100% control for practically the entire fight. Whether it was on the ground or standing, Benson was on another level. It's performances like he had that define him as the best lightweight in the world and question how someone will top him.

Anthony Pettis did it once, but he must get past "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone to potentially get the next crack at the champ.




7) Frankie Edgar (14-3-1)


Height: 5'6

Birthday: October 16, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Ben Henderson - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2 - August 11, 2012

- vs. Ben Henderson - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - February 26, 2012

- vs. Gray Maynard - Win via KO (punches) - UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 - October 8, 2011

- vs. Gray Maynard - Draw (Split) - UFC 125: Resolution - January 1, 2011

- vs. B.J. Penn - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 118: Edgar vs. Penn 2 - August 28, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Jose Aldo - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

Comment: Edgar is in a tricky position, much akin to the status Urijah Faber now holds at bantamweight. Frankie needs the win to rejuvenate his career and flip everyone on its head. Otherwise, he's a non-factor at featherweight having lost to the champion and he is not going to return to lightweight, either. He'd probably resort to taking fights against mid-level fighters and hope that Aldo's title reign comes to an end sooner than later so he can return to the fold.




8) Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson (16-2-1)


Height: 5'3

Birthday: August 13, 1986

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Joseph Benavidez - Win via decision (split) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Ian McCall - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on FX: Johnson vs. McCall - June 8, 2012

- vs. Ian McCall - DRAW - UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann - March 3, 2012

- vs. Dominick Cruz - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Versus: Cruz vs. Johnson - October 1, 2011

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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. John Dodson - UFC on Fox 6: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

Comment: Johnson has fought in the main event on Versus and FX, but almost exactly one month from now, everything changes. For the first time in his career, he will main event a show on Fox and defend his UFC flyweight championship. With the biggest television audience possible in modern MMA, Mighty Mouse will have a (pun intended) tall order in the form of John Dodson.

The 125-pounders will stuff so much action into their potential 25-minute bout, it will be interesting to see how the masses take to it. After all, we're built on wanting to see heavyweights, right?




9) Dan Henderson (29-8)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: August 24, 1970

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Shogun Rua - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 139: Henderson vs. Shogun - November 19, 2011

- vs. Fedor Emelianenko - Win via TKO (H-Bomb) - Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson - July 30, 2011

- vs. Rafael Feijao Cavalcante - Win via TKO (punches) - Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson - March 5, 2011

- vs. Babalu Sobral - Win via KO (punches) - Strikeforce: St. Louis - December 4, 2010

- vs. Jake Shields - Loss via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Nashville - April 17, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Lyoto Machida - UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche - February 23, 2013

Comment: Hendo! As things turned out, he never fought in 2012 because of a knee injury which prevented him from challenging Jon Jones in September. It's an unfortunate switch considering he won the epic fight with Shogun Rua in 2011. Instead of fighting the champion, he will return in February to fight Lyoto Machida in the co-main event. It's unclear who may have the leg up to fight Jon Jones (or if the unthinkable happens, Chael Sonnen) later in 2013. Alexander Gustafsson is thought to be the leading candidate but he'll almost certainly have to fight in the interim.

The point is, look as impressive as possible and force the UFC's hand.




10) Gilbert Melendez (19-2)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: April 12, 1982

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Josh Thomson - Win via decision (split) - Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier - May 19, 2012

- vs. Jorge Masvidal - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal - December 17, 2010

- vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri - Win via TKO (strikes) - Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley - April 9, 2011

- vs. Shinya Aoki - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Nashville - April 17, 2010

- vs. Josh Thomson - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Evolution - December 19, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown





11) Carlos Condit (28-6)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: April 26, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Georges St. Pierre - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 154: St. Pierre vs. Condit - November 17, 2012

- vs. Nick Diaz - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit - February 4, 2012

- vs. Dong Hyun Kim - Win via KO (flying knee) - UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber - July 2, 2011

- vs. Dan Hardy - Win via KO (punches) - UFC 120: Bisping vs. Akiyama - October 16, 2010

- vs. Rory MacDonald - Win via TKO (punches) - UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin - June 12, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Rory MacDonald - UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz - March 16, 2013

Comment: Condit gave everything he had last month in his first shot at the UFC title. He actually came THIS close to stopping GSP by TKO with a vicious head kick that landed perfectly in the middle of the fight. Georges was wobbly for a bit but ultimately pushed through it and won a clear cut decision.

Despite losing, Condit never looked weak or overwhelmed so he was not knocked too far down the UFC ladder. In fact, he has a big fight already scheduled for March where he'll take on welterweight wunderkind Rory MacDonald with the Canadian hellbent on avenging his loss in 2010.

There is no doubt many will be looking at Carlos to be another stepping stone for Rory, but you can never sleep on the "Natural Born Killer."




12) Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey (6-0)


Height: 5'6

Birthday: February 1, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Sarah Kaufman - Win via submission (armbar) - Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman - August 18, 2012

- vs. Miesha Tate - Win via submission (armbar) - Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey - March 3, 2012

- vs. Julia Budd - Win via submission (armbar) - Strikeforce Challengers 20 - November 18, 2011

- vs. Sarah D'Alelio - Win via submission (armbar) - Strikeforce Challengers 18 - August 12, 2011

- vs. Charmaine Tweet - Win via submission (armbar) - School of Hard Knocks 12 - June 17, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Liz Carmouche - UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche - February 23, 2013

Comment: Yes, based on popular demand and a change in editorial philosophy, our pound for pound rankings are now opened up to female fighters. Why? Well, remember, P4P is always hypothetical. We will never (imagine my best Chris Jericho impression), ever see JDS fight a flyweight or a featherweight fight a middleweight and so forth. This is all based in fun with the belief that these are the best 15 fighters based on nothing but skill.

Certainly, it gets tricky when we're talking about freaks of nature like Jon Jones or enormously powerful fighters like Junior dos Santos, but this is all based in fun.

Now, let's talk some Ronda. She was the first Strikeforce fighter to sign with the UFC once the rumors spread about the former dying out in January. In fact, she was pretty quickly named the first ever UFC women's bantamweight champion and we now know she will main event the late-February show against Liz Carmouche.

Clearly, the logic of the booking is to showcase Rousey and hopefully build to a megafight with Cris Cyborg later in 2013. Unless Carmouche makes them regret their decision, that is.




13) Renan Barao (29-1)


Height: 5'6

Birthday: February 27, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Urijah Faber - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao - July 21, 2012

- vs. Scott Jorgensen - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit - February 4, 2012

- vs. Brad Pickett - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 138: Leben vs. Munoz - November 5, 2011

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

- vs. Chris Cariaso - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis - December 16, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Mike McDonald - UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. McDonald - February 16, 2013






14) Cain Velasquez (10-1)


Height: 6'2

Weight: 242

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Antonio Silva - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 146: dos Santos vs. Mir - May 26, 2012

- vs. Junior dos Santos - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos - November 12, 2011

- vs. Brock Lesnar - Win via TKO (punches) - UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez - October 23, 2010

- vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira - Win via KO (punch) - UFC 110: Nogueira vs. Velasquez - February 20, 2010

- vs. Ben Rothwell - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 104 - October 24, 2009

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Junior dos Santos - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 - December 29, 2012

Comment: Velasquez has been waiting for this weekend for over a year since he fought with a torn ACL last November. We've seen him tear apart Bigfoot in the spring and the questions now revolve around his capacity to stand and bang with Junior dos Santos. Seemingly unable to utilize his wrestling background last year, will he be able to do what nobody in the UFC has done and take JDS down?




15) Rashad Evans (17-2-1)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: September 25, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jon Jones - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans - April 21, 2012

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

- vs. Tito Ortiz - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz - August 6, 2011

- vs. Rampage Jackson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 114: Rampage vs. Rashad - May 29, 2010

- vs. Thiago Silva - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 108: Evans vs. Silva - January 2, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013




Closing Comments: Lyoto Machida, Daniel Cormier, Johny Hendricks, Pat Curran and Chris Weidman received additional votes.

A reminder, Dominick Cruz was not ranked because he has not been in action for over one year (due to injury). He will return to the 411 MMA Rankings once he signs to fight.






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