Rankings are a silly thing.
For starters, they're entirely subjective. There's a very good chance you're going to take one look at my pound-for-pound list below and start laughing until you cry. And that's fine.
Your list of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport may look entirely different than mine. That's fine, too.
Another reason rankings are silly? They have no bearing on what fights we're going to see. The UFC and Strikeforce aren't beholden to any kind of rankings system, which is ultimately why we're going to see Vitor Belfort challenge for the UFC light heavyweight title on September 22 despite the fact that Belfort hasn't fought at light heavyweight since returning to the promotion a few years ago.
But rankings are still fun. They're a great conversation starter, and it's a good way to put to paper your own view of the mixed martial arts landscape. Ultimately, that's all I'm doing here: telling you what I think, giving you my view of the lay of the land. You may disagree—and in fact, most of you probably will—but we'll still have plenty of fun discussing it.
Without further ado, I give you my pound for pound rankings for August 2012.
There's an old saying that goes a little something like this: To be the man, you have to beat the man. And since Silva is still unbeaten in his UFC run, that makes him the man. There are plenty of folks nipping at Silva's heels, but he's still the best in the world at what he does.
2. Jon Jones
Jones hasn't had the best year when it comes to public relations. But when he steps in the cage, Jones is still a revelation. You can hate him for his ill-fated decision to turn down a fight with Chael Sonnen—one that ultimately led to the cancellation of UFC 151—but you can't hate him for what he does in the cage.
Put simply, Jones is one of the most dominant forces the sport has ever seen, and it's only a matter of time before he's occupying the top spot on this list.
3. Georges St-Pierre
St-Pierre has been inactive for well over a year at this point, which means he shouldn't even be eligible for rankings at this point. But I simply cannot remove a fighter who has accomplished as much as St-Pierre has over the course of his career. Barring an unfortunate injury, he'll return in November to face Carlos Condit and attempt to stake his claim as one of the best in the world.
4. Jose Aldo
Aldo returns to the cage against Erik Koch in October at UFC 153. Koch is a good fighter and a tough challenge for anyone, but the only thing folks want to talk about when it comes to Aldo is a potential bout with Frankie Edgar. I imagine we'll see that fight in 2013, giving Aldo yet another opportunity to prove he's one of the best young fighters in the sport.
5. Dan Henderson
Henderson's unfortunate knee injury forced him out of his UFC 151 bout with Jones. Luckily for Henderson—and perhaps for all of us—Henderson's MCL was only partially torn, which means no surgery and a lot less time spent on the shelf than we thought. I fully expect Henderson to get his chance at the winner of Jones vs. Belfort when he returns.
A win for Henderson would cement him as one of the greatest of all-time, and certainly the best American fighter in the history of the sport.
6. Dominick Cruz
Cruz will watch from the sidelines for a long time due to his knee injury, likely until next summer. When he returns, he'll likely face whomever the interim bantamweight champion is at that point. It might be Renan Barao or it might be Michael McDonald. The only certain thing is that Cruz will eventually have that final grudge match with Urijah Faber.
7. Benson Henderson
Henderson defended his title in controversial fashion at UFC 150, sending Frankie Edgar packing to the featherweight division. Henderson's next challenge comes in the form of the not-so-smooth-talking Nate Diaz. The pair will face off in the main event of December's UFC on FOX show. It's a big opportunity for Henderson to earn a ton of new fans on free network television.
8. Frankie Edgar
According to most, Edgar didn't actually lose to Henderson at UFC 150. But the scorecards stand, and without a clear path back to another title shot in his future, Edgar finally made the decision to drop to featherweight.
He won't get an immediate title shot, but I suspect he'll only have to win one fight before Joe Silva makes the call to put him in the cage with Aldo for the UFC's first real featherweight superfight.
9. Gilbert Melendez
Melendez is still the big fish in Strikeforce's small pond. He'll face Pat Healy in September, but what happens after that? If Melendez wins, he doesn't have many plausible opponents remaining because Healy is barely a plausible title challenger as it is. Melendez can only hope Zuffa and Showtime go their separate ways at the end of the Strikeforce television deal next spring so he can make the long-awaited jump to the UFC.
10. Joseph Benavidez
Benavidez has a chance to become the first UFC flyweight champion when he faces Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152 next month. He's the clear favorite, and rightly so. Outside of two losses to the much bigger Cruz, Benavidez has been perfect in his MMA career. He's the uncrowned flyweight champion-in-waiting.