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411 MMA Rankings 01.22.13: Middleweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 01.22.2013





It's Tuesday, it's cold (forget all of you in humidity), The Ultimate Fighter returns tonight and the middleweight division is more like a newborn litter of animals each clawing, scratching and fighting each other for food from their mother.

The 411 MMA Rankings return this week as we look at the top 15 middleweight fighters in the world at a point after plenty of top 10 caliber fighters were handed losses as their New Year's presents. In all, Michael Bisping, Tim Boetsch, and Alan Belcher each saw their ultimate title dreams put to rest. Even worse for them, because Strikeforce has closed up shop as of 10 days ago, the UFC's 185-pound division has even more bodies in the rat race. Between Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Tim Kennedy and even Lorenz Larkin and Roger Gracie, all of them are now competing inside the octagon for the first time in their respective careers.

Anderson Silva will reportedly remain out of action until the summer and not for any health reasons (at least none that have been made public). Obviously, he's spending time with his family, still getting in some training and probably having some fun singing Michael Jackson songs in his free time. But, he's also watching from afar how the division is transforming and who he can realistically fight.

There have always been concerns from the Silva camp about who can give the champ a big fight in terms of pay-per-view revenue (since Silva earns a cut of that money based on buy rates) while probably minimizing the threat of a loss (which would greatly diminish his enormous paydays down the road against Georges St. Pierre and/or Jon Jones). Before he was hurt, Chris Weidman didn't fit the bill (not a big name) and it's tough to see how Luke Rockhold is in any kind of better situation. Vitor Belfort is more interested in fights at light heavyweight, Jacare Souza has trained in the past with Silva and everyone else is in no position to warrant a title fight just yet.

What matchmaker Joe Silva along with owner Lorenzo Fertitta and president Dana White come up with to satisfy Silva and his handlers will be one of the most intriguing storylines for the first half of 2013.

Looking ahead, the only fights involving the fighters below feature Hector Lombard against Yushin Okami and Brian Stann versus Wanderlei Silva. The latter will be contested at 205-pounds, with Stann returning to middleweight in the aftermath.

In Bellator, they will decide the vacant championship (vacated by Lombard when he signed with the UFC last year) on February 7 on Spike TV when tournament champions Alexander Shlemenko and Maiquel Falcao do battle.





Feedback to last week's light heavyweight rankings:

From Steve:
I can definitely see how Faber, or anybody, being 1-2 in their last 2 fights would put them in a tricky spot. That's not a very easy task.
Indeed, if you go 1-3, you're at the bottom of the barrel.

From Erick:
Bellator has a lock almost on the 145 pound devison.
Assuming you meant 135, I don't know if they "almost" have a lock, but they have plenty of top fighters of their own, for sure.

From wylun:
faber at 3 is a joke~ way to high.. his ranking is based off past achievements... if he loses again i want to see him drop down to 6-10
A joke to you but who do you replace him with? He beat Eddie Wineland plus he finished Brian Bowles (himself a top 10 fighter when he's active). Brad Pickett just lost and then you're into the guys like Tyson Nam or Marcos Galvao. As for Bibiano, sure it happened a long time ago, but Faber even beat him.

From Jeyh:
But you know the argumeent, his only losses are to the champions or guys who were 1 at the time he fought them. More than any other division I think he has that role of not going to lose to anybody besides the top guy, but not going to beat the top guy(well in theory, see if he beats Ivan).
And nobody else has emerged to the point of taking his spot, at least not yet. Until someone does, Faber is just 'there' behind the elite level bantamweights but above everyone else.

From ere we:
pretty much once it hits number 7 it's like "who!?"
You should have been watching Bellator a long time ago, but now you have no reason not to.

From Alan:
Bibiano can't become the second best bantamweight in the world when Barao and McDonald and Faber all fight over here.
It depends on how his fights overseas go, because despite not having many top contenders in that part of the world, how can you deny a guy who storms through his competition? Of course, this assumes the top UFC guys and even the Bellator guys knock each other off. In the meantime, Fernandes is definitely one of the best 5 bantamweights today.

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




RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
(01.03.12)


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. Alexander Shlemenko

14. Rousimar Palhares

15. Tim Kennedy



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.





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: Silva watched live, in person over the weekend when his anointed challenger was knocked off. With Michael Bisping out of the picture and Georges St. Pierre unwilling to fight him anytime soon, it looks like the UFC must decide between Luke Rockhold or Chris Weidman as to who will get the next shot at Silva this summer. There may not be any big money involved, but if there's any hope of a super fight with either GSP or Jon Jones, Silva has to stop whomever ends up across from him in the octagon vying for his 185-pound championship, first.




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 said over the past week that he expects to begin training by April and should be prepared to fight by the summer. Hello, Anderson?




3) Luke Rockhold (10-1)


Height: 6'3

Birthday: October 17, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

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:

- Unknown

Comment: Rockhold is now the former Strikeforce middleweight champion with the promotion's demise, so what's in store for him in his octagon debut? Nothing official yet but I would imagine he'll get a fight within the first quarter of the year since he has not fought since the summer due to nagging injuries.




4) Vitor Belfort (22-10)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: January 4, 1977

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Michael Bisping - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping - January 19, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Vitor finished Bisping in the second round over the weekend and perhaps just as memorably, cut a raging promo against Chael Sonnen. Not only did he call on the UFC to replace Sonnen with himself for the upcoming title fight with Jon Jones, he also challenged the former middleweight contender. So, it certainly looks like a fight we'll see later this year at 205-pounds will see Belfort and Chael finally lock horns.




5) Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (17-3)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: December 7, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Ed Herman - Win via submission (Kimura) - Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine - January 12, 2013

- 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:

- Unknown

Comment: Souza made quick work of Ed Herman 10 days ago and already has a new multi-fight UFC contract. Souza represents one of the several fighters (Gegard Mousasi, for another) who made their names in Japan and have furthered their careers outside the UFC in America in recent years. Jacare, in particular, is recognized as one of the very best grapplers in MMA and combined with his striking abiliy, the sky is the limit for him in 2013 and beyond.




6) Constantinos "Costa" Philippou (12-2, 1 No Contest)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: November 29, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Tim Boetsch - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 - December 29, 2012

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

- vs. Court McGee - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann - March 3, 2012

- vs. Jared Hamman - Win via KO (punches) - UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida - December 10, 2011

- vs. Jorge Rivera - Win via decision (split) - UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz - August 6, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Philippou filled in for his injured training partner, Chris Weidman, to fight Tim Boetsch at UFC 155 almost a month ago and he looked tremendous. He wore down the top contender into a bloody mess before finishing him in the third round. Automatically, he makes a name for himself and becomes a player thanks to the fact he finished a top 10 middleweight.


7) Michael Bisping (23-5)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: February 28, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Vitor Belfort - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping - January 19, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: And just like that, Bisping's hopes at a title fight went up in smoke. Much like they did when he was knocked out by Dan Henderson years ago, his chin failed him again.




8) Yushin Okami (28-7)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: July 21, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Alan Belcher - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez - December 29, 2012

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Hector Lombard - UFC on Fuel TV 8: Silva vs. Stann - March 3, 2013

Comment: Okami earned his first winning streak in over two years when he took care of Alan Belcher in Las Vegas. Now, he'll have another fight against a top ten fighter in March when he returns to Japan to fight Hector Lombard. Certainly, every fight is the biggest of a fighter's life, but for both men, this holds doubly true at UFC on Fuel 8. A win and they begin to emerge from the pack of middleweights while a loss drops them into the tank with the rest (Bisping, Stann, Boetsch and Munoz to be specific).




9) Hector Lombard (32-3-1)


Height: 5'9

Birthday: February 2, 1978

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Rousimar Palhares - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC on FX: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson - December 14, 2012

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Yushin Okami - UFC on Fuel TV 8: Silva vs. Stann - March 3, 2013

Comment: Lombard quickly moved past memories of his lackluster debut as he finished Palhares in Australia last month. He's been calling out Anderson Silva and insists the UFC won't give him that fight. In the mean time, he'll square off with Yushin Okami on the Silva/Stann undercard in under two months. Okami will want to keep the fight in a spot to minimize Lombard's power but all Hector needs is one clean shot. Rousimar Palhares found that out last year.




10) 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:

- vs. Wanderlei Silva - UFC on Fuel 8: Silva vs. Stann - March 3, 2013





11) Tim Kennedy (15-4)


Height: 5'10

Birthday: September 1, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Trevor Smith - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine - January 12, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Kennedy completed his Strikeforce run with a dominant submission win against Trevor Smith. He's one of the names who are making the move to the UFC and like the rest, thinking of all the fresh match-ups is a fun daydream. For Kennedy himself, the thought of having a platform to fight consistently and potentially make a lot more money must sound great after the trials and tribulations of Strikeforce's final year.




12) Tim Boetsch (16-6)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: January 28, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Constantinos Philippou - Loss via TKO (punches) - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez - December 29, 2012

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: His 2012 began on such a stellar feat having beaten a pair of top ten fighters in Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard, but it did not end with such gusto. The loss to Cosa Philippou is his first since dropping down to middleweight. He suffered an injury to his hand at some point in the first round and after an inadvertent head butt, could barely see because of blood, but he kept fighting.




13) 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





14) 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 denied any rumors he was thinking about retirement. In fact, he plans to take as much time as he needs to heal up all of his injuries (foot, elbow) before returning for another fight. GREAT!




15*) Alan Belcher (18-7)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: April 24, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Yushin Okami - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 155: dos Santos vs. Velasquez - December 29, 2012

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Like several of his other middleweight compatriots, Belcher lost and falls out of title contention in 2013. He could not deal with Okami's strength, as he could not in their first fight in 2006, and will have to hit the drawing board to figure out where he must improve, again.




15*) 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




Closing Comments: Roger Gracie received additional votes.





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