Commentary

MMA's 10 best pound-for-pound fighters

Originally Published: August 12, 2009
By Sherdog.com

Anderson Silva has sat atop Sherdog.com's pound-for-pound rankings since September 2007. Although there always has been spirited debate about whose accomplishments reign supreme in the sport, Silva's alpha dog status came under critical fire following dismal victories over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. Sterling wins over elite fighters Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt, as well as his pair of destructions of Rich Franklin, seemed like distant memories.

Saturday night in Philadelphia, those memories came flooding back.

In just more than three minutes, Silva destroyed Forrest Griffin -- who once held a position on this list -- in stark and brutal fashion. The victory was so convincing that "The Spider" ran away with the Sherdog.com fan poll asking readers who they consider the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. Fifty-three percent of the 40,000-plus votes cast favored the Curitiban.

The weekend was not entirely kind to pound-for-pound standouts, however. Miguel Torres -- attempting to become the first bantamweight in the history of the sport to piece together a consistent, quality résumé -- saw his 17-fight winning streak snapped as unbeaten challenger Brian Bowles punched him out in the first frame and took his spot atop the 135-pound division.

1
UFC middleweight champion
Record: 25-4

After lackluster efforts in his middleweight title defenses against Cote and Leites, Silva drew the ire of fans, fighters, journalists and even UFC president Dana White. But in his 205-pound bout against former UFC light heavyweight champion Griffin on Aug. 8, Silva smashed a quality fighter in historically brutal fashion. There are rumblings that "The Spider" might eventually vacate his middleweight crown in favor of a permanent move to 205 pounds, which would allow him to continue to add to an outstanding résumé.


2
UFC welterweight champion
Record: 19-2

Talk had been brewing of a pound-for-pound superfight after St. Pierre's handling of top contender Thiago Alves in July, but Silva's blowout of Griffin has mostly scuttled discussions of a St. Pierre-Silva matchup. That works fine for St. Pierre, who is keen to continue defending his welterweight title. He now awaits his next contender -- the winner of the Mike Swick-Martin Kampmann title eliminator at UFC 103 on Sept. 19.


3
Strikeforce heavyweight
Record: 30-1, 1 NC

Just as fellow pound-for-pound kings Silva and St. Pierre had blockbuster summer bouts to add to their respective résumés, Emelianenko was scheduled to meet Josh Barnett at Affliction's Trilogy event Aug. 1. One failed Barnett drug test later, and Emelianenko no longer had a fight. The sport's heavyweight ruler has since signed with Strikeforce and will make his promotional debut in the fall.


4
UFC light heavyweight champion
Record: 15-0

Many fans and pundits already are calling for Zuffa to put enough money on the table to grease the wheels for a Machida-Silva showdown. Whether or not Machida ever winds up fighting his pal, the Shotokan stalwart first has a date with rejuvenated light heavyweight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 104 in October, in what will be the first defense of his UFC light heavyweight title.


5
WEC featherweight champion
Record: 22-4

The unassuming king of MMA featherweights is riding a stellar three-year run, with 10 victories in a row -- including a pair of wins over former featherweight kingpin and pound-for-pound entrant Urijah Faber. As Zuffa continues to gobble up more and more top featherweights under the WEC banner, Brown will have the chance to put together a muscular résumé. But the biggest challenge for the 33-year-old American Top Teamer might be his next one: facing fire-breathing 22-year-old phenom Jose Aldo in November.


6
UFC lightweight champion
Record: 14-5-1

Penn might be the most gifted fighter on this list. At UFC 101, he showed exactly why the MMA world anointed him "The Prodigy," putting on a consummate prizefighter performance and nullifying Kenny Florian for 15 minutes before routing him in the fourth frame and finishing him by submission. The next challenger to Penn's UFC lightweight title figures to be Diego Sanchez, sometime in the coming months. If Penn chooses to continue his reign at lightweight -- the role everyone except Penn himself has long desired for him -- he should only climb this list and validate his enormous talent.


7
UFC light heavyweight
Record: 30-7

Between his energy drink-fueled legal problems, lascivious actions in video interviews and candid quotes, Jackson often is in the news for reasons other than his fighting accomplishments. That said, in five straight bouts against top-10 opponents, in one of MMA's deepest divisions, Jackson is 4-1. His sixth straight 205-pound standout foe will be Rashad Evans in December, after the two square off as coaches on the forthcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter."


8
UFC welterweight
Record: 19-3, 1 NC

Fitch doesn't have the scintillating offense of a Silva, Emelianenko or Penn, and he's the only entrant on this list who hasn't won a major title in the UFC, WEC or Pride. What he does possess, however, is a gaudy 10-1 record in the UFC, having racked up top-10 victories in what historically has been MMA's deepest and most talented division. He might be the welterweight division's perennial second banana, but that is an extremely meritorious position.

With Fitch's win over Paulo Thiago and Thiago Alves' loss to Georges St. Pierre, the formerly ninth-ranked Alves falls just outside the top 10.


9
UFC light heavyweight
Record: 13-1-1

Evans' first defense of the UFC light heavyweight belt in May was a disaster, as he was dominated from bell to bell by Machida. But Evans should have the chance to restore his Q-rating, particularly if he can score a rematch against Machida. Meanwhile, he will coach opposite Jackson on the 10th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," which will lead up to a high-profile December showdown between the two.


10
WEC bantamweight champion
Record: 8-0

With a gaudy record and an all-out action style, Miguel Torres was supposed to be the first great bantamweight in MMA history, bringing the division to the masses. But Bowles had other plans and punched out the pound-for-pound entrant in the first round, staked his claim as the sport's top 135-pounder and earned a place on this list. Now it will be up to Bowles to continue adding to what is quickly becoming a high-quality résumé, especially by the standards of a division in which few top fighters historically have fought each other. The first defense of Bowles' newly acquired crown likely will come against fellow upstart Dominick Cruz.

After his Aug. 9 loss to Bowles, the previously fifth-ranked Torres drops just outside the pound-for-pound top 10.