The following is a list of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in mixed martial arts as of the end of November 2010.
I have also included five honorable mentions for those who are on the fringe of securing a spot on this coveted list.
Feel free to sound off on who you feel may be missing from the list or who should be ranked higher or lower.
The floor is officially yours.
Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who has contributed to CBSSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, and MMAmania.com (in addition to BleacherReport.com). Follow him on Twitter at @DerekBolender.
(in no particular order)
Gray Maynard – UFC – (10 – 0, 1 NC)
Lyoto Machida – UFC – (16 – 2)
Quinton Jackson – UFC – (31 – 8)
Cain Velasquez – UFC – (9 – 0)
Joseph Benavidez – UFC – (13 – 2)
Continue clicking for fighters #10 – #1.
The WEC 53 event on December 16 will mark the crowning of the inaugural UFC bantamweight champion when Cruz battles #1 contender Scott Jorgensen.
Cruz, who remains undefeated at the 135-pound limit, will be looking to make his second successful title defense in as many tries.
The Cesar Gracie-product Melendez has been on quite a tear in his last three fights.
In that span, he has avenged both of his career losses to Mitsuhiro Ishida and Josh Thomson, while also defeating a man in Shinya Aoki who many felt was the #1 ranked lightweight in the world at the time.
Look for the current Strikeforce lightweight champion back inside the cage in early 2011.
“Suga” has been on the shelf for quite some time now since defeating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 114 on May 29.
The win propelled him to a title shot against current light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua, who is currently sidelined due to injury.
The UFC management chose not to greenlight an interim title fight for Evans. As a result, he will remain on the sidelines a bit longer, waiting for Rua to become fully healthy.
Since Fitch began his professional MMA career on July 13, 2002, he has only tasted defeat once at the 170-pound limit.
The one loss was a lopsided unanimous decision to current welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in August 2008 at the UFC 87 event.
The underappreciated, much maligned Fitch will look to continue his path back to a title shot when he faces B.J. Penn at the upcoming UFC 127 event in Australia.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion was victorious in his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann at UFC 121.
Despite his sluggish performance, the UFC management has gone on record stating he did enough to earn a crack at the winner of the Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck matchup.
The reason is simple—all he has done is win against top competition across two different weight classes for years.
His last loss came in November 2005. Since then he has accumulated quality victories over the likes of Dan Henderson, Carlos Condit, Yushin Okami, Mike Pyle, Nick Thompson, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, and Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
The uber-talented Rua simply cannot catch a break.
He is currently recovering from knee injury, which is yet another setback in a career littered with setbacks.
If all goes as planned, he will put his title on the line against Rashad Evans when the UFC makes their return trip to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 12, 2011 for UFC 128.
The reigning UFC lightweight champion is doing his best to restore credibility to the Jersey shore.
After disposing of former champion B.J. Penn in successive bouts, he has his sights set squarely on a familiar face in Xtreme Couture product Gray Maynard.
It is Maynard who can claim responsibility for Edgar’s only career blemish as he registered a unanimous decision win back in April 2008.
The rematch is locked and loaded for UFC 125.
It should take UFC fans little to no time to warm up to Aldo when he makes his promotional debut in early 2011.
The former WEC featherweight champion, who was presented at UFC 123 with his UFC featherweight championship belt due to the merger, was scheduled to defend his title against Josh Grispi at UFC 125 before pulling out due to a neck injury sustained in training.
The 24-year-old Brazilian was 8–0 in the WEC, including successful title defenses against Mike Thomas Brown and Manny Gamburyan.
“Junior” is the crown jewel of Nova Uniao, which is one of the best teams in the world, overseen by Carlson Gracie disciple and former UFC welterweight #1 contender Andre Pederneiras.
Since taking the 170-pound torch from champion Matt Hughes, he has been a dominant and celebrated champion in his own right.
He has fought and defeated a who’s who list of fighters. Most recently, he defeated Dan Hardy via unanimous decision at UFC 111.
Next up is a fight against Ultimate Fighter Season 12 rival coach Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 on December 11.
It will be a rematch of their UFC 74 fight that was won by St. Pierre via unanimous decision back in August 2007.
“The Spider” is coming off an improbable title defense, submitting Chael Sonnen late into the fifth round at UFC 117 this past August.
It was no doubt his toughest test ever inside the octagon, but he found a way to pull out a victory like great champions do.
He now holds UFC records for most consecutive wins (12) and successful/consecutive title defenses (7).
His title reign will not get any easier as he will face a very dangerous Vitor Belfort at the UFC 126 event on February 5, 2011 during Super Bowl weekend.