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September 2012 MMA Rankings: The 10 Best in Each Division

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterNovember 17, 2016

September 2012 MMA Rankings: The 10 Best in Each Division

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    Going into last Saturday's UFC 152 event, it felt like forever since we'd seen a live UFC event. And perhaps it had been forever, at least in terms of what we're used to. Forty-two days is a long time without a major (or even a minor) UFC card, so it felt decidedly good to get back on the horse, as the old saying goes.

    Because of the lack of major mixed martial arts action since the last edition of my rankings were published, there aren't many drastic changes here. But we'll do them anyway, because consistency is key when dealing with something like this.

    And let's be honest, I can't resist a good opportunity for all of you to tell me how dumb I am and how wrong my rankings are.

    Let's get started.

Heavyweight

2 of 9

    1. Junior dos Santos
    2. Cain Velasquez
    3. Daniel Cormier
    4. Alistair Overeem
    5. Fabricio Werdum
    6. Frank Mir
    7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
    8. Josh Barnett
    9. Antonio Silva
    10. Mike Russow

     

    Notes

    There are no major changes in my heavyweight top 10, and there won't be any radical shifts until the later part of this year when Dos Santos and Velasquez rematch at UFC 155.

    Cormier was scheduled to face Mir at an upcoming Strikeforce event, but Mir was forced to pull out with an injury. As of publication time, there is no replacement opponent named for Cormier, but Strikeforce officials told me last week they're working on finding a solution, and one should be announced shortly.

    Antonio Silva is scheduled to face the unranked Travis Browne early next month, and a win for Browne would likely vault him into the top 10 for the first time.

    Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will return from an arm injury suffered at the hands of Mir to face Dave Herman at UFC 153 in Brazil.

Light Heavyweight

3 of 9

    1. Jon Jones
    2. Dan Henderson
    3. Rashad Evans
    4. Lyoto Machida
    5. Mauricio Rua
    6. Phil Davis
    7. Alexander Gustafsson
    8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
    9. Quinton Jackson
    10. Glover Teixeira

     

    Notes

    Jones powered through a submission scare from Vitor Belfort and went on to dominate the Brazilian the rest of the way. His next opponent will likely be one of two men: Dan Henderson or Chael Sonnen. If the arm injury suffered by Jones keeps him on the shelf for a long period of time, there's a chance Sonnen jumps into the title picture if he beats Forrest Griffin at UFC 155. If not, Henderson will be the next guy in line.

    Rua and Gustafsson are scheduled to fight at UFC on FOX in December, and the winner will likely be in the immediate title picture for his next bout.

    Jackson withdrew from his bout with Teixeira due to injury. For what could ultimately be his final bout in the UFC, Jackson may end up facing Matt Mitrione in a heavyweight bout. It's the perfect kind of crowd-pleasing fight that the UFC loves putting on, and it makes all the sense in the world.

Middleweight

4 of 9

    1. Anderson Silva
    2. Chael Sonnen
    3. Michael Bisping
    4. Chris Weidman
    5. Tim Boetsch
    6. Mark Munoz
    7. Vitor Belfort
    8. Luke Rockhold
    9. Yushin Okami
    10. Ronaldo Souza

     

    Notes

    Silva, the most dominant champion in UFC history, will return to light heavyweight for a special attraction main event against Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153. After that, a fight with Georges St-Pierre may become a reality, but I'd much rather see him defend his title against Michael Bisping. I feel like the Brit has earned his shot with the controversial loss to Sonnen (which I believe Bisping won) and his dominant win over Brian Stann.

    Weidman will get a chance to cement his own title shot at UFC 155 when he faces Tim Boetsch. I'm not sure that Boetsch will be afforded the same opportunity, but a win should put him in the mix, as Dana White loves to say.

    Strikeforce champ Rockhold will defend his title against Lorenz Larkin. It's a strange matchup if you ask me, but that's the problem with Strikeforce. There are no real challengers left in most of the divisions, so matchmaker Sean Shelby is left with slim pickings when it comes to making fights.

    It's time for Rockhold—and the rest of the Strikeforce roster—to be incorporated into the UFC.

Welterweight

5 of 9

    1. Carlos Condit
    2. Nick Diaz
    3. Johny Hendricks
    4. Martin Kampmann
    5. Jon Fitch
    6. Jake Ellenberger
    7. Josh Koscheck
    8. Ben Askren
    9. Rory MacDonald
    10. Nate Marquardt

    Due to USA Today's ranking policy (for which this ballot was created), Georges St-Pierre is ineligible to be ranked due to inactivity

     

    Notes

    Condit will finally get the chance to cement himself as the top welterweight in the world when he faces St-Pierre at the now-official UFC 154 card in November. For all intents and purposes, St-Pierre is still the best.

    But there are plenty of questions surrounding his ability to return from a bad injury coupled with the time away from the cage, and there's also the fact that Condit is simply a great fighter.

    On the same card, Hendricks and Kampmann will square off, presumably to figure out who gets the next title shot. And Nick Diaz will likely return to the cage in early 2012, but he'll need at least one win before the UFC can make that mythical St-Pierre/Diaz bout come to fruition.

Lightweight

6 of 9

    1. Benson Henderson
    2. Gilbert Melendez
    3. Frankie Edgar
    4. Gray Maynard
    5. Nate Diaz
    6. Jim Miller
    7. Anthony Pettis
    8. Clay Guida
    9. Donald Cerrone
    10. Michael Chandler

     

    Notes

    Henderson returns to the cage at UFC on FOX in December to defend his title against Diaz. It's the first time the lightweight title will be contested on television and only the second time a major UFC title will be defended on network television.

    Melendez was scheduled to face Pat Healy this Saturday night but was forced to pull out due to a separated shoulder. As a result, the entire Strikeforce card was cancelled. He expects to return to training after resting the injury for a month or so.

    Edgar won't be included in these rankings much longer, as he's elected to drop down to featherweight.

Featherweight

7 of 9

    1. Jose Aldo
    2. Pat Curran
    3. Chad Mendes
    4. Ricardo Lamas
    5. Hatsu Hioki
    6. Dennis Siver
    7. Diego Nunes
    8. Erik Koch
    9. Chan Sung Jung
    10. Cub Swanson

     

    Notes

    An injury suffered by Aldo during a motorcycle accident forced him to pull out of his scheduled UFC 153 bout with Frankie Edgar. UFC officials haven't said whether or not they plan to go forward with the bout once Aldo is healed, but I fully expect that to be the case. Look for it to happen in January or February.

    Swanson jumped into the top 10 with his dramatic knockout of Charles Oliveira at UFC 152. He's racked up three straight wins over tough opponents, and he's getting plenty of airtime while doing it. Because of that, I expect him to get a high-profile bout his next time out.

    If Aldo and Edgar are still paired up—and as I said before, I expect it to happen—then a bout between Swanson and Chan Sung Jung makes perfect sense, and it also sets up a new contender for the winner of Aldo vs. Edgar.

Bantamweight

8 of 9

    1. Dominick Cruz
    2. Renan Barao
    3. Urijah Faber
    4. Brian Bowles
    5. Michael McDonald
    6. Brad Pickett
    7. Eddie Wineland
    8. Scott Jorgensen
    9. Miguel Torres
    10. Eduardo Dantas

     

    Notes

    We still don't know when Cruz will return from his knee injury, and we don't know if Barao will be held out (as promised by Dana White) for an eventual champion vs. champion bout. With the top of the division stagnant—at least for the moment—it's time to start pairing up other top contenders and let the chips fall where they may.

    McDonald is deserving of a top contender bout, and slotting him against Bowles makes a lot of sense.

    Pickett will face Yves Jabouin at UFC on Fuel 5 on Saturday night. A win would do wonders for his title prospects.

    Torres has signed with the new World Series of Fighting and will make his debut on Nov. 3. 

Flyweight

9 of 9

    1. Demetrious Johnson
    2. Joseph Benavidez
    3. Ian McCall
    4. Jussier Da Silva
    5. Yasuhiro Urushitani
    6. Darrell Montague
    7. John Dodson
    8. Chris Cariaso
    9. Louis Gaudinot
    10. John Moraga

     

    Notes

    Johnson captured the first UFC flyweight title with a great performance against Benavidez at UFC 152. His next opponent will emerge from the bout between Dodson and Da Silva, which takes place at UFC on FX 5. 

    Benavidez will likely look to get back in the cage as quickly as possible after rarely fighting over the past year. A bout with McCall makes a lot of sense style-wise, and it would also set up the winner for a shot at Johnson.

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