Since earning the position of managing editor at FiveOuncesOfPain.com I have had the unfortunate opportunity to watch our long respected and referred to ranking system grow as stale and decrepit as the cheeseball gladiator sequence and theme song that has opened up every UFC since what seems like the dawn of man (A lot of fans swear by it, personally, it’s comparable sound of fingernails running across a chalkboard).
I, as editor in chief, take full responsibility for our long outdated ranking system, and hereby declare that I am here to take the power back!
I’m going to kick things off right here with the always controversial pound for pound rankings. From there, we will be updating the rankings one weight class at a time; starting at heavyweight and working our way down. And don’t you worry female fight fans, we’re going to be running a ranking system on the ladies of the sport as well.
While I assure you that arguing against the logic of my finely tuned rating system would be futile, because I’m right, I welcome any conversation or scepticism you may harbor towards my rationalization of the current fighter standings.
Also, please feel free to post your own set of rankings regarding this, or any of the weight classes to follow.
When considering pound for pound rankings some of the key factors I took into consideration were being well rounded, the quality of opposition faced, and experience, among other variables.
Pound for pound rankings are going to be twenty fighters deep, with all other weight classes featuring the top ten. The official FiveOuncesOfPain.com rankings will be updated monthly, or shortly after any weekend of events have had a significant impact on several weight classes.
1. Fedor Emelianenko: I have not wavered on my stance of Fedor being the best pound for pound fighter on planet earth in close to five years, and I’m just not going to until “The Last Emperor” suffers a legit defeat. I don’t care if he gets beat up from beginning to end and pulls out a miracle punch to win (a la Andrei Arlovski) in his next ten fights; until Emelianenko loses, get used to him resting firmly on top of this list.
Has Anderson Silva faced tougher competition than Fedor in recent years? Sure, that argument could definitely be made, but for me, Fedor’s ability to avoid a legitimate defeat while competing against many of the most dangerous big men the sport has had to offer for close to a decade running leaves no question in my mind who the baddest man on the planet truly is.
You would be hard pressed to find a major hole in the arsenal of Emelianenko. He has explosive knockout power in his fists, underrated kickboxing (with the exception of head kicks), dynamic Sambo influenced takedowns, an elite level submission game, and perhaps most importantly, a warriors spirit that just can not be taught.
Fedor Emelianenko is the epitome of Bushido.
2. Anderson Silva: The middleweight champion of the UFC currently has put together ten consecutive victories in the Octagon and counting. Recent wins over the likes of men such as Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, and Dan Henderson, including a first round knockout of former UFC light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, make it impossible to justify placing Anderson any lower than number two on this list.
Of course, an argument could be made for either Fedor or Anderson in the number one spot but one thing is for certain; unless either of these athletes lose a bout in the near future there’s no way either will be falling from the top two spots anytime soon. Their level of experience will continue to trump the guy I have in the number three spot’s level of execution until they lose or retire.
3. Lyoto Machida: Machida’s undefeated record combined with the level of competition he has faced during the course of his career place him at our third spot. The black belt in both Shotokan Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has established a reputation as the least hit fighter in the history of the UFC, and he has done it while facing dangerous adversaries such as Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans. Outside of his time spent in the Octagon, Lyoto has notched wins over the likes of UFC champions Rich Franklin and B.J. Penn, along with promotion veteran Stephan Bonnar.
4. B.J. Penn: I can already hear it coming, “How can you have Penn above GSP when St-Pierre completely battered B.J. in their last bout. While there’s no denying that GSP is the better fighter at 170 pounds, this ranking system is set up in such a way that you have to imagine that the two fighters would meet up at an identical natural weight.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that if Georges was able to somehow shrink down to 155 pounds where Penn is the most effective, he would have a tremendous amount of difficulty pinning the lightweight champion to the canvas as he has in the past. On the feet, it’s not even close. A 155 pound B.J. would walk right through a smaller structured St-Pierre standing.
GSP is a phenomenal athlete, but Penn is the superior fighter. Better striking, better submissions, and better chin.
B.J. currently seems close to unstoppable at lightweight. He’s only suffered one loss at the weight class, which was a majority decision to Jens Pulver back in January of 2002. We all know how that fight ends today.
5. Georges St-Pierre: St-Pierre gets my vote for being the most athletic fighter in the sport today. The combination of that athletic talent and a deep rooted will to win have served GSP well throughout the course of his decorated mixed martial arts career. As it stands right now, Georges is just a fight or two away from being able to lay claim to having completely cleaned out his division with recent victories over guys like Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves.
I’d personally be interested in seeing him in bouts against dynamic strikers with a strong wrestling base such as Mike Swick or Anthony Johnson. However, with that being said, it’s hard for me to visualize those fights ending any different that the bouts with GSP’s previously mentioned victims.
The only thing that keeps St-Pierre from ending up a notch or two higher on this list is his tendency to turn into a well muscled wet blanket in his fights with anyone that poses a remote threat on the feet.
6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua: It may surprise some that Shogun wound up as high as he did on this ranking system but I will point to the fact that I firmly believe Shogun to be the most well rounded fighter in the sport as my argument for this choice.
When Rua is on, he’s on. He has a chin of granite, can bang with the best of them, possesses some of the most effective Muay-Thai for MMA in the sport, has an extensive and lethal submission arsenal, underrated wrestling ability and takedowns, and a killer instinct reminiscent of a starved piranha with the scent of blood.
I’m not going to sit here and try to make up any excuses for Shogun’s submission defeat to Forrest Griffin. It was what it was, but outside of that Rua hasn’t suffered a legit defeat since 2003. During the course of his career fighting under the PRIDE banner, Mauricio put together wins over top level fighters such as Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Alistair Overeem, and Ricardo Arona. Since the defeat to Griffin, Rua has put together back to back victories over Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell. The Coleman win actually looks more impressive considering The Hammer’s recent win over Stephan Bonnar.
Shogun and Lyoto Machida’s spots on this list definitely have the potential to take a hit depending on the outcome of their scheduled UFC 104 championship match-up.
7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Easily one of the most devastating submission artists in the sport, Big Nog makes this list based on his ability to grow along with the sport over the years. Something he displayed beautifully in his most recent victory over Randy Couture. A three round war where Nogueira utilized his superior ground game and much improved striking to pick up the hard fought win over one of the most respected veterans in the history of the game.
Scalps currently hanging for Nogueira’s belt include elite competitors such as Heath Herring, Dan Henderson, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Josh Barnett and Fabricio Werdum to name just a few.
8. Nate Marquardt: I was already taking flack for this pick before it had even been published. I sent fellow 5 Oz’er David Andrest an advance copy of the highly anticipated official P4P rankings, and this man I have long considered my friend actually had the nerve to call me on the telephone and laugh at me in regards to my thought process concerning this pick. I’m not going to lie, my blood was boiling. I was considering giving Nate a call in an attempt to persuade him to pay David a visit to teach him a lesson in humility, but ultimately opted against it.
This pick for me, comes down to a variety of things. Marquardt has always faced a high level of competition, and it’s the vast improvements he has made while facing that competition that plants him securely in the pound for pound rankings.
Try to find a considerable hole in Marquardt’s arsenal. He’s freakishly powerful and massive for the weight class, has dynamite in both fists, utilizes savage ground and pound (see UFC 85 bout with Thales Leites when Marquardt has the Brazilian coughing up blood), is well versed on the ground, and trains with one of the best camps in the sport, Greg Jackson’s.
Marquardt’s one of those guys that never seems to get the amount of respect he deserves. Maybe it’s due to his humble, somewhat reserved nature, but more likely it’s due to the fact that the UFC hype machine hasn’t given this talent the type of push he deserves. Of course, if you don’t get the type of exposure you should demand, there’s one way to take it, and that’s winning fights. Something Marquardt has had a knack for against may of the toughest men in the business over the space of more than ten years running.
9. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: The twin brother of former UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Lil Nog is a a mirror image of his sibling in more ways than one. Both men have lethal ground attacks, polished striking arsenals, chins of concrete and a fighting spirit that runs deep through both of their veins.
The only reason Antonio Rogerio Nogueira falls underneath his brother on this list is because of the lesser amount of competition he has faced up until this point in his career. However, wins over the likes of guys like Alistair Overeem, Dan Henderson, and Vadimir Matyushenko make “Minotouro” an easy pick for the top ten.
It should be fascinating to see how he does against a fighter as hazardous as Luis Cane in his Octagon debut set for UFC 106 in November.
10. Dan Henderson: There’s no denying that Henderson is one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport. The level of competition he has faced during the course of his career, combined with an Olympic caliber wrestling background, iron jaw and two of the heaviest fists in the business, would make Hendo a very rough night for anyone that met him at an identical natural weight.
Feel free to voice your opinion on my picks and I’m going to do my best to respond and clarify the reasoning behind all of the selections. The heavyweights are coming up next.
11. Nick Diaz
12. Gegard Mousasi
13. Jon Fitch
14. Jake Shields
15. Miguel Torres
16. Mike Brown
17. Brian Bowles
18. Frank Mir
19. Mike Swick
20. Joachim Hansen