Thursday, September 24, 2009

September Pound-for-Pound Rankings: The Song Remains the Same

Some people weren't too happy with my decision to include the UFC Heavyweight Champ in last month's installment of the Pound-for-Pound rankings, clinging to the usual arguments made against Brock Lesnar.

This month, I counter with this: Lesnar had the same size advantage in his first fight against Frank Mir that he had the second time they met, yet the outcomes were different. Why? Brock Lesnar is evolving; he's learning to combine his massive size with his freakish athleticism and hands the size of lunch boxes.

As he continues to pick off top contenders, Brock Lesnar will continue to climb these rankings, no matter how much his detractors dislike the idea.

Keyboard Kimura Pound-for-Pound Rankings (as of September 24, 2009)

1. Anderson Silva - UFC Middleweight Champion (Last Month: 1)
He dominates two divisions and has put together a 10-fight unbeaten streak in the UFC. What more could you possible ask for?

Vitor Belfort appears to be the next man to try and take Silva's middleweight title, and while "The Phenom" has exhibited quick hands and a renewed dedication to the sport, a lot of fighters people thought would present a challenge to "The Spider" have been laid to waste in recent years.

Belfort will be no different.

2. Georges St-Pierre - UFC Welterweight Champion (Last Month: 2)
He's getting awful close to Anderson Silva territory, having cleaned out the welterweight division and done so in impressive fashion as of late.

Yes, there is the Matt Serra incident, but since that time, St-Pierre has been untouchable. Whether he's hesitant to get clipped again a la Serra or not, "Rush" has steamrolled (in order) Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, Serra, Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn and Thiago Alves in a little over two years.

The only question that remains is "Who's Next?"

3. Fedor Emelianenko - #1 HW Contender, Strikeforce (Last Month: 3)
Evan Shoman said it well when I interviewed him last month:

Come on... Fedor. No one is even close. People who know the sport, know this. Here’s why:
  1. He’s never lost.
  2. He’s never lost to someone he shouldn’t have.
  3. Has been in wars and on the brink of defeat only to pull out the win.

Other P4P arguments are GSP or Silva. Numbers 1 and 2 don’t apply to GSP. Numbers 1, 2, and 3 don’t apply to Anderson.

That being said, he also hasn't challenged himself against the best in the world the same way St-Pierre and Silva have, so he remains at #3.

4. Lyoto Machida - UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (Last Month: 4)
The next time we see the UFC on pay-per-view, Machida will be making his first title defense against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

They say you're not a true champion until you defend the belt, so the pressure is on "The Dragon" to continue his undefeated career and silence any last remaining critics.

If we see the "Shogun" Rua who once dominated Pride, this will be an outstanding fight. If we see anyone else, we'll see another brilliant display of Machida's tactical excellence and surgical striking ability.

Both sound good to me.

5. B.J. Penn - UFC Lightweight Champion (Last Month: 5)
What makes Diego Sanchez any different from Kenny Florian, Joe Stevenson or Sean Sherk?

All three came into their fight with "The Prodigy" in the best shape of their life, ready to dethrone the champ and show that he could be beaten at 155.

All three left defeated, forced to regroup and recover from being dominated by the best lightweight in the history of the sport.

Yeah, I said it...

6. Mike Brown - WEC Featherweight Champion (Last Month: 7)
The American Top Team product climbs a spot after a month of reflecting on his run of success in the WEC and a comment on last month's rankings:

"There are bigger, stronger, and more athletic featherweights than Mike Brown, but Brown is still the best." Sounds about right to me...

The blue-collar Brown has dominated everyone he's faced in the WEC. Next on the schedule, he faces the faster, more athletic Jose Aldo in November.

7. Miguel Torres - Former WEC Bantamweight Champion (Last Month: 6)
One loss doesn't bump you from the charts, especially when you're 17-1 over your last 18 fights.

What needs to happen, however, is Torres returning to the ring and dominating the next man he faces, setting up a rematch with Brian Bowles.

How you respond to adversity says a lot about who you are; time to see what kind of fighter Miguel Torres truly is.

8. Gegard Mousasi - Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion (Last Month: 8)
This man needs to get away from M-1 Global and their stupid grappling exhibitions! Nothing like injuring yourself in a meaningless demonstration with Fedor...

Injury or not, North America got their first taste of Mousasi when he starched "Babalu" Sobral in his Strikeforce debut.

The sky is the limit for this impressive 24-year-old. Within two years, you'll see him at the top of these charts.

9. Rashad Evans - Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion (Last Month: 9)
With all the Rampage rumors and retirement drama going on, it looks as if the TUF 10 coach will take on Thiago Silva at UFC 108.

Evans has expressed interest in the fight and can gain an ounce of revenge for his friend Keith Jardine. For that to happen, the Greg Jackson protegee needs to get back to blending his fast hands with the standout wrestling skills that helped him win TUF 2.

Otherwise, he'll be staring at the stars again and gone from these rankings.

10. Brock Lesnar - UFC Heavyweight Champion (Last Month: 10)
Some feel that if Brock Lesnar was a welterweight, he wouldn't be anywhere near the top of the heap. I disagree.

His athleticism is matched only by the current welterweight champion and no one in the UFC can match the wrestling ability the former Division I champion possesses, GSP included.

Even at a lighter weight, Lesnar would still be agile, athletic and incredibly strong; a definite handful for anyone who stood across from him.

Just because he's 280 on fight night, all those things go out the window? Not for me.

Also considered: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles and Vitor Belfort.

This is my ten. What does your Pound-for-Pound list look like? Let me know in the comments section.

Or you can simply tell me who I missed, who should be higher or lower or anything else you need to get off your chest.

I'm hear to listen.

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