St. Pierre returns to the pound-for-pound rankings
Welcome back to the pound-for-pound ranks, Georges St. Pierre. After losing his welterweight title in April 2007, Rush has racked up a pair of wins and is on course for a rematch with Matt Serra.
The first Sherdog pound-for-pound rankings in 2008 deliver a significant shakeup outside the top three. Jumping onto the list is Georges St. Pierre, who goes from unranked into the top five. Also joining the list for the first time is featherweight Urijah Faber, who defended his WEC belt in December against Jeff Curran. Lightweights Gilbert Melendez, loser of a tight decision on New Year's Eve, and Sean Sherk, inactive while fighting and serving a suspension for steroids, were dropped from the list.
1. Anderson Silva (20-4-0)
After a career of appearing on pound-for-pound lists before being had been noticeable absent from such compilations recently. Silva bounced back, however. He is currently in the midst of the most impressive streak of his career -- even more impressive is that Silvia's hot streak has come in a period of monumental upset and inactivity in the sport. The only blemish on Silva's record in his last nine fights is his infamous disqualification loss to Yushin Okami, but that doesn't prevent him from to taking the top spot. Beyond that mishap, he's steamrolled his competition. Moreover, three of his last four wins have come against firmly entrenched, high-standing top-10 fighters. The toughest test of Silva's UFC middleweight reign will come in March when the Brazilian faces the last man to hold the Pride 183-pound title, Dan Henderson.
2. Quinton Jackson (29-6-0)
Let there be no mistake, there is certainly a case for putting "Rampage" atop this list. Jackson, alongside Silva, seems to be the only top fighter beating other top fighters. His back-to-back wins over Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson are certainly sterling. However, "Rampage" has the potential to strengthen his pound-for-pound status more than any other fighter because a steady crop of elite light heavyweights appear to be coming down the pipeline for him. Having nursed an injured hand, the 28-year-old Jackson returns to the limelight when he acts as coach on season seven of "The Ultimate Fighter," after which he'll defend his UFC light heavyweight belt against Forrest Griffin.
3. Fedor Emelianenko (27-1-0, 1 NC)
Mixed martial arts' most enduring pound-for-pound figure remains in the third spot. Nothing's changed for "The Last Emperor." But he really doesn't fight any solid competition, which is the most crucial factor in determining. Although Emelianenko's second win over Nogueira and his triumph over "Cro Cop" are not ancient history, his only remotely meritorious heavyweight victory in the past two years was over Mark Hunt. A New Year's Eve submission victory over Hong Man Choi did nothing to deter detractors who claim Emelianenko's status is based on less than stellar competition. The 31-year-old Russian heavyweight king must get back to fighting competitive bouts, otherwise he could squander all that he worked for over the years.
4. Georges St. Pierre (15-2-0)
Absent from these rankings because his stunning loss last April to Matt Serra, the 26-year-old French-Canadian jumps into the fourth spot largely because of his impressive submission over Matt Hughes and the fact that he basically cleaned out the welterweight division over the past two years. If he can avenge his loss to Serra this coming April in his home city of Montreal, St. Pierre -- the No. 1 ranked welterweight -- could be considered the most dominant fighter in MMA. If he defeats Serra, a fight with Jon Fitch could materialize in the latter half of 2008.
5. Dan Henderson (22-6-0)
One of the most recognizable fighters with dual-divisional clout, the 37-year-old former Olympian had repeatedly told Zuffa that he didn't favor a drop to the 185-pound class. Although additional wins at 205 pounds would have only enhanced the Team Quest Temecula leader's pound-for-pound stock, his decision to fight at middleweight could produce one of the best fights of 2008 when he takes on "The Spider" Silva. A win could him to the top of the rankings.
6. Takanori Gomi (27-3-0)
For all his warts, "the Fireball Kid" is the most accomplished lightweight this young sport has seen. While Gomi's unrequited losses to Joachim Hansen, B.J. Penn and Nick Diaz tend to stick out like a sore thumb, he has endured at the upper echelon of his division for seven years with heaps and heaps of top wins. Only time will tell whether the 29-year-old can continue to accrue those wins in his future home, wherever it is.
7. Shinya Aoki (11-2-0)
Aoki has solid wins in two weight classes that, at least for now, earn him a pound-for-pound ranking. As the sport trudges onward, though, it is imperative that the 24-year-old submission wizard gets back into action against top opposition. His return to MMA on New Year's Eve was tougher than expected. Fighting South Korean judo Olympic medalist Bu Kyung Jung, who replaced Gesias Calvancante on a week's notice, Aoki was nearly submitted twice before finding his rhythm and pulling out a decision victory against the MMA newcomer.
8. Urijah Faber (20-1-0)
"The California Kid" needed a big win to gain the No. 1 spot at 145 pounds, and he did so with a decisive stoppage over veteran Jeff Curran in early December. That effort, combined with his penchant for putting away opponents and an impressive overall record, puts the 28-year-old Faber in the Sherdog P4P for the first time. The featherweight buzz saw will likely get a crack at former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver in his next WEC title defense.
9. Norifumi Yamamoto (17-1-0, 1 NC)
After establishing himself as a top featherweight, "KID" jumped to K-1 three years ago and moved up to lightweight for payday purposes. Along the way he happened to become a superstar in Japan, where he picked up some solid wins. Now, following his failed bid to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a wrestler, Yamamoto is back in MMA. The 30-year-old fighter stopped Rani Yahya on New Year's Eve, showing once again how explosive he can be. Fighting at more natural weight now (near 135 pounds), Yamamoto could be a quick riser on this list if he is matched with quality opposition.
10. Randy Couture (16-8-0)
It was a team effort for "The Natural" to fill the final spot. Couture's disciple Griffin completed the enormous task of knocking off high-standing pound-for-pounder Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the Brazilian's UFC debut. As a result, Couture's two fantastic wins over Gabriel Gonzaga and Tim Sylvia in 2007 allow him to slide in the back door of the list. At the age of 44, Couture won't be able to climb the pound-for-pound ranks for long. However, the MMA icon could rocket up the ladder with an epic bout against Emelianenko. His fighting status in limbo, though, Couture may never get that opportunity.
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