With one tap of the hand, Fedor Emelianenko sent a shock wave through the mixed martial arts world. The Russian’s June 26 upset loss to Fabricio Werdum alone meant an interesting month was on hand in the Top 10 pound-for-pound poll.
Add in Brock Lesnar’s high-profile victory over Shane Carwin one week later, and you’ve got a ripple effect that shook up the rankings from top to bottom.
Emelianenko tumbled from No. 3 to No. 8. But in doing so, he helped crown a new No. 1. Nearly all the voters who previously had Fedor at No. 1 shifted their first-place vote to UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, enough to push him ahead of the former No. 1, Georges St. Pierre.
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Silva took 12 first-place ballots out of 20 and finished with 192 points; St. Pierre had the remaining eight top votes and took second with 188. Their lockdown on the top two spots is total; St. Pierre had 12 second-place votes and Silva eight.
With Emelianenko’s slide, WEC bantamweight champ Jose Aldo and UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio Rua each moved up a spot, to Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
UFC lightweight champ Frank Edgar, meanwhile, vaulted four places from nine to five. That puts him one ahead of the fighter he beat for the title on April 10, B.J. Penn. Edgar was ranked in the top five by seven of the 20 pollsters. There also were four voters who ranked Penn in the top five while not ranking the 12-1 Edgar at all.
Finally, we revisit the question of who is the world’s top heavyweight. While Fedor is no longer in the mix for No. 1 pound-for-pound, it’s also clear many reporters aren’t yet convinced that Lesnar is better than Emelianenko. Emelianenko took eighth with 52 points; Lesnar debuts at No. 10 in the poll with 46. Of the 20 voters:
Anderson Silva captured 12 first-place ballots out of 20 and finished with 192 points as he gained the top spot in the pound-for-pound poll.
Emelianenko finished higher than Lesnar, however, because six of his votes were between Nos. 3-6, while the bulk of Lesnar’s votes came in the lower half of the top 10, with two fifth-place votes as his highest tallies.
With that, things should calm down for a while, as the only top-10 fights on the horizon for the rest of the summer are Silva’s Aug. 7 defense against Chael Sonnen and the Aug. 28 Edgar-Penn rematch.
This month’s voting panel: Denny Burkholder, CBSSports.com; Elias Cepeda, Inside Fighting; Mike Chiappetta, MMAFighting.com and Fight! Magazine; Steve Cofield, Cagewriter and ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas; Neil Davidson, Canadian Press; Dave Doyle Yahoo! Sports; Ben Fowlkes, SportsIllustrated.com and MMAFighting.com; Josh Gross, SportsIllustrated.com; Ariel Helwani, Versus.com and MMAFighting.com; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Damon Martin, MMAWeekly.com; Todd Martin, freelance; John Morgan, MMAjunkie.com; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Brad McCray, freelance; Dave Meltzer, Yahoo! Sports; and The Wrestling Observer; Brett Okamoto, The Las Vegas Sun; Ken Pishna, MMAWeekly.com; Michael David Smith, MMAFighting.com; Dann Stupp, MMAjunkie.com; and The Dayton Daily News.
Scoring: 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second, etc., down to 1 point for a 10th-place vote. Fighters who are under suspension for usage of performance-enhancing substances or drugs of abuse are ineligible to be considered for the duration of their suspensions; fighters who have been inactive for more than 12 months are ineligible for consideration until after the completion of their next fight.
10. Brock Lesnar
Weight class: Heavyweight (UFC heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Webster, S.D.
Record: 5-1 (has won past five)
Last month’s ranking: unranked
Most recent result: def. Shane Carwin, R2 submission, July 3
Analysis: With strength, athleticism, wrestling ability, a ferocious ground and pound, and the heart needed to find his way out of tough situations, Lesnar is turning into the heavyweight version of a prime Matt Hughes.
9. Jake Shields
Affiliation: Free agent
Weight class: Welterweight/Middleweight (Strikeforce middleweight champion)
Hometown: San Francisco
Record: 25-4-1 (has won past 14)
Last month’s ranking: 8
Most recent result: def. Dan Henderson, unanimous decision, April 17
Analysis: It appears all but a certainty Shields will end up in the UFC. With welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre tied up with Josh Koscheck for awhile, it will be interesting to see with whom Shields is matched in his company debut.
8. Fedor Emelianenko
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 31-2, one no-contest (lost past 1)
Last month’s ranking: 3
Most recent result: lost to Fabricio Werdum, R1 submission, June 26
Analysis: No snarky comments about Emelianenko here. Every fighter loses eventually, the Russian was a true sportsman in defeat, and both Strikeforce and M-1 owe him the opportunity to work his way back to the top.
7. Lyoto Machida
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Belem, Brazil
Record: 16-1 (lost previous fight)
Last month’s ranking: 7
Most recent result: lost to Mauricio Rua, R1 TKO, May 8
Analysis: With Rua out indefinitely due to knee surgery, Machida’s camp is floating the idea of an interim title bout between Machida and Rashad Evans. No word yet on whether Evans is up for the idea.
6. B.J. Penn
Weight class: Lightweight
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 15-6-1 (lost previous fight)
Last month’s ranking: 6
Most recent result: lost to Frank Edgar, unanimous decision, April 10
Analysis: Getting down to training for the rematch with Edgar.
5. Frank Edgar
Affiliation: UFC (UFC lightweight champion)
Weight class: Lightweight
Hometown: Toms River, N.J.
Record: 12-1 (has won past four)
Last month’s ranking: 9
Most recent result: def. B.J. Penn, unanimous decision, April 10
Analysis: Has his chance to prove win against Penn was no fluke.
4. Mauricio Rua
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC light heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 19-4 (won previous fight)
Last month’s ranking: 5
Most recent result: def. Lyoto Machida, R1 TKO, May 8
Analysis: Knee surgery is expected to keep the new champ out until at least March.
3. Jose Aldo
Weight class: Featherweight (WEC featherweight champion)
Hometown: Rio de Janeiro
Record: 17-1 (has won past 10)
Last month’s ranking: 4
Most recent result: def. Urijah Faber, unanimous decision, April 24
Analysis: No. 3 is the highest a WEC fighter has ranked in the poll.
2. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 188 (8 first-place votes)
Weight class: Welterweight (UFC welterweight champion)
Hometown: Saint-Isidore, Quebec
Record: 20-2 (has won past seven)
Last month’s ranking: 1
Most recent result: def. Dan Hardy, unanimous decision, March 27
Analysis: Lost the No. 1 spot without fighting and isn’t likely to return to action until the end of the year, given his Ultimate Fighter commitments.
1. Anderson Silva
Points: 192 (12 first-place votes)
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 26-4 (has won past 11)
Last month’s ranking: 2
Most recent result: def. Demian Maia, unanimous decision, April 10
Analysis: Whether pollsters shifted their votes to Silva because he had the longest win streak after Emelianenko, or they’ve forgiven his transgressions against Demian Maia, his performance against Sonnen will show whether he deserves the top spot.
Dave Doyle, Yahoo Sports