A lot of people thought I had a bias against Georges St. Pierre after I picked Josh Koscheck to beat him at UFC 74 and had the “audacity” to question his mental game, but that was never the case. I’m a big GSP fan who had legitimate concerns about the reasons behind him losing to Matt Serra earlier in the year.
St. Pierre started working with a sports psychologist and put any questions about his mental condition to rest by dominating Koscheck for three rounds, and by also out-wrestling a fighter considered to be one of the best pure wrestlers in MMA.
On Dec. 29 against Matt Hughes, St. Pierre made a fighter I consider to be the second best welterweight in the world, look like an also-ran. It became obvious to me at that point that GSP had regained his status as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world. The only person who can beat him in his weight class is himself.
Below is my updated pound-for-pound top ten, with analysis. By moving St. Pierre into the one spot, it should answer once and for all any questions that I have some bias against him.
5 Oz. Pound-for-Pound Top Ten
1. Georges St. Pierre – When it comes to ranking guys at the top, the most important criteria element to me is win recorded against other top ten opponents. In August, I considered Josh Koscheck a top ten welterweight, and GSP dominated him. Coming into UFC 79, I considered Matt Hughes the number two welterweight in the world (and still do) and GSP dominated him. The only guy that can beat St. Pierre is St. Pierre himself. The man can do it all all; strike, submit, and his wrestling has really become high-level. He’s truly worthy of being considered the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
2. Anderson Silva – Much like GSP, Silva has proven to be head and shoulders the best in his division and has made top ten level opponents, such as Rich Franklin, look like also-rans. His striking is second to none at middleweight, and you could even argue that he’s the best pound-for-pound striker in the world. His submissions off his back are strong. The only question I have is his wrestling. We’ll find out the answer to that against Dan Henderson on March 1 at UFC 81.
3. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson – Jackson has proven himself with his two most recent wins coming against Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson. The win over Liddell looks even more impressive following Liddell’s win against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79. Silva gets the slight nod because the number two ranking was so close that I had to go with most recent victory as a tie-breaker. Unfortunately, Jackson may not fight again until August, so inactivity could be his biggest enemy and cause him to drop in the future.
4. Randy Couture – Having not fought since August, inactivity is now become an issue. But his impressive wins over Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga have both taken place within the last 12 months so it’s not as if he should be on a milk carton. He’s also still technically the UFC heavyweight champion and has not retired.
5. Fedor Emelianenko – I really struggled with this. Personally, I believe Fedor is the best fighter in the world. But a fighter needs to fight and a top ten fighter should be fighting other top ten fighters, not freak show acts (Hong-man Choi). Fedor destroyed Choi at Yarennoka, but he was supposed to. In my mind, the win is just enough to prevent him from dropping too far.
6. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto – The biggest knock against Yamamoto for so long was that he was inactive. Well, he recorded a win in September against unheralded Bibiano Fernandes. While it was only a decision and not a win vs. a top opponent, it was still a win. He then followed it up on New Year’s Eve with an impressive knockout of Rani Yahya.
7. Urijah Faber- Faber was due for a move up following his relatively quick win over Jeff Curran, a top ten featherweight, in December. Faber has been beating everyone that’s been put in front of him and he’s doing it in dominant fashion.
8. Gesias “JZ Calvan” Calvancanti – You can’t fault him for not being able to fight at Yarennoka against Shinya Aoki because it was an injury situation. He was plenty active in ’07 with three fights and three wins against quality opponents such as Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, Andre “Dida” Amade, and Nam Phan (who is much better than he looked). And based on B.J. Penn’s recent inactivity and Gilbert Melendez’s loss, I felt compelled to move JZ into my number one lightweight spot, prompting this move higher into the top ten pound for pound without having even fought.
9. B.J. Penn – Penn is a personal favorite and next to Fedor, I think he’s the second best pure fighter in the world. But he fought just once last year and hasn’t fought since June 23. A win over Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 on Jan. 19 will really boost his stock but I had to drop him due to inactivity.
10. Dan Henderson – The win over Wanderlei looks a lot better following Silva’s performance vs. Liddell. And Henderson may have lost to Rampage in September, but he fought a great fight. Being a top ten ranked contender in two different weight classes means a lot, as does pure fighting ability. However, looking good vs. Anderson Silva on March 1 won’t be enough to keep him here; he’ll need to pull off the win.
You can view 5 Oz.’s complete rankings by weight class by clicking here.