This is part three of a five part series examining each of the most common weight classes including lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight. See how your favorite fighters will rank and offer your own opinions. Let the debate begin.
Middleweight Rankings – 185 lbs.
1) Anderson Silva (UFC) – 21 – 4 MMA Record, Current UFC Middleweight Champion
Silva is on another planet compared to the rest of this list. He is arguably the most dynamic, dominating, violent, and precise striker currently in all of MMA. He has won seven fights in a row over the entire upper echelon of the UFC middleweight class including victories over Rich Franklin twice, Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, and Dan Henderson.
Yushin Okami will likely be Silva’s next opponent. After Okami, however, there is virtually nothing left for Silva to accomplish in the middleweight division. I expect either Georges St. Pierre to challenge Silva at 185 or for Silva to drop to 170 to challenge St. Pierre.
2) Dan Henderson (UFC) – 22 – 7, Former PRIDE Middleweight and PRIDE Light Heavyweight Champion
Henderson is coming off two straight losses, however, they were to Quinton Jackson at 205 and Anderson Silva most recently. Neither loss was really a bad loss for Henderson, who at the age of 37, is still a top flight middleweight talent.
Henderson’s wrestling and his ability to control a fight in the clinch are still superior to the majority of fighters in this weight class. Couple his world class wrestling with the knockout power in his hands and he still is a force to be reckoned with going forward.
3) Rich Franklin (UFC) – 22 – 3, one no contest, Former UFC Middleweight Champion
Franklin has only lost to one fighter at the 185 pound weight class in his career and that is Anderson Silva, twice in fact. Silva has Franklin’s number like he does with so many other 185 pound fighters.
Franklin largely dominated the 185 pound level in the UFC prior to Silva’s emergence. He has wins over Yushin Okami, Evan Tanner, Ken Shamrock, David Loiseau, and Nate Quarry.
Franklin loves to stand up and bang with his opponents and showcase his boxing skills. Franklin also comes before Filho due to the fact that Franklin has proven himself over tougher competition for a longer stretch of time.
4) Paulo Filho (WEC) – 16 – 0, Current WEC Middleweight Champion
Filho is still a relative unknown to the majority of UFC fans because he fights in the WEC, however, there is no doubting his talent. Filho has yet to be defeated in the octagon and he holds notable wins over Murilo Rua, Ryo Chonan, Kazuo Misaki, and Yuko Kondo.
5) Robbie Lawler (Elite XC) – 15 – 4, Current Elite XC Middleweight Champion
Lawler has 19 professional MMA fights under his belt and he is still only 25 years old. His fighting style is extremely aggressive and the majority of the time his recklessness plays in his favor.
Lawler has won seven out of his last eight fights and at his age he still has plenty of time to develop a more technical approach on his feet that could pay dividends going forward.
6) Matt Lindland (Free Agent) – 20 – 5
Lindland is a world class wrestler with plenty of talent regardless of his age, which is 37 years old. He has won nine of his last 11 fights. The two losses were to Quinton Jackson and Fedor Emelianenko who are both outside his natural weight class.
In a recent public interview with mmaweekly.com he expressed interest in possibly returning to the UFC and said he was eager to fight Anderson Silva.
7) Yushin Okami (UFC) – 22 – 4
Okami is rumored to be Anderson Silva’s next opponent and he is the man responsible for Silva’s last lost back in 2006, although it was due to an illegal kick by Silva which resulted in a disqualification.
He has won nine of his last ten fights. The nine wins have all come by knockout or by a unanimous decision. The one loss was to Rich Franklin via decision at UFC 72, however, Okami has deemed himself worthy of a title shot with his body of work the past couple years.
8) Denis Kang (K-1 HERO’S) – 27 – 9 – 1, 1 no contest
Kang at the age of 30 already has 38 professional MMA fights under his belt. Also, seven of his losses came before March of 2003, so it is evident that Kang has been evolving.
Kang is one of the more well-rounded middleweights in the world with 15 of his victories coming by submission and 10 coming by way of knockout.
9) Nate Marquardt (UFC) – 26 – 7 – 2
Marquardt has won seven of his last eight fights with the one defeat coming from Anderson Silva. He is still as experienced on the ground as anyone in this weight class. He is a seven-time middleweight King of Pancrase champion.
Marquardt still needs to improve on his stand up skills, however, if he gets his opponent on the ground he is more likely than not going to get a submission victory.
10) Yoshihiro Akiyama (K-1 HERO’S) – 10 – 1, 2 no contests
Akiyama is an extremely well rounded fighter like Kang with five wins by submission and five by knockout. His most notable win, in fact, was a knockout over Kang in October of 2007.
Akiyama brings to the table a very accomplished judo background, and he has parlayed his judo talent with an ever improving stand up game that should be difficult for opponent to handle going forward in his career.
If Anderson Silva doesn’t move up or down to another weight class he may rule the middleweight division for many years to come.
Yushin Okami will be lucky to escape the first round against Anderson Silva.
It is evident there are great middleweight fighters in all MMA organizations all across the world.
At 37 years old, we may have seen the last of Matt Lindland.
Dan Henderson has a better chance to succeed in the UFC middleweight division as opposed to the light heavyweight division. He is a small light heavyweight. A future match up between Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson would be appealing to me.
I would like to see Dan Henderson get another crack at Anderson Silva someday. If Franklin got two chances I believe Henderson has earned the right as well. Henderson still has the best chance to beat Silva in this weight class out of anyone in the UFC.