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UFC Title Rankings after December 2010

Sterling SpiarsAnalyst IDecember 29, 2010

UFC Title Rankings after December 2010

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    Bittersweet moment as the final WEC event took place on December 16. With over 50 events over the last nine years, the WEC began to establish themselves as one of the most exciting brands of MMA over the last few years. It's sad to see a company that continually put on great shows to go away, but also exciting in the fact that fans get to see these willing warriors make their way into the UFC octagon.

    Now these WEC fighters have a chance to shine on the biggest stage of them all. Will the pressure be too much, or will we see fighters step up and snag the spotlight?

    December offered quite a few notable fights in rankings, especially in the lighter weights. Find out where your favorite fighters stand among the top 10. Remember, this is just one man's opinion. Please chime in with your opinions.

Bantamweight Division

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    December's Key Fights

    Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen

    Before the final WEC bantamweight championship fight took place, there were quite a few fans who gave Scott Jorgensen a great chance to take the belt. Using this fact to chip his own shoulder, Dominick Cruz came in and clearly proved those fans wrongs, once again securing his spot atop the 135-pound division.

    While opting out of needed hand surgery for a stint on the next TUF and a bantamweight super fight against Urijah Faber sounds intriguing, the wiser option would be to lower his expectations some and just take the surgery.

    Casual UFC fans aren't ready for this type of exposure to the lighter fighters and Dana White knows this. That, and there really isn't a clear cut contender at the moment. Faber's win over Takeya Mizugaki was big but shouldn't be enough to warrant a title shot after just one bantamweight bout.

    Brad Pickett vs. Ivan Menjivar

    If Brad Pickett's WEC run was any indication of what is to come, the British-born fighter will be a staple of the UFC's 135-pound division for many years to come. The man always comes to please the fans, putting on fight of the night-worthy performances.

    Pickett has only lost once in his last 11 fights, and that was to the last No. 1 contender Jorgensen. Pickett seems like one of the front-runners for the next title shot but has proved that he still needs a convincing victory before he gets it.

    Once again, get that surgery Cruz.

    Eddie Wineland vs. Ken Stone

    A former champion's exhilarating knock out celebration turned into a scary moment when Ken Stone lay unconscious for several minutes and was carted out of the cage by the medical staff. Thankfully, Stone came out of this with no serious injuries.

    As for Wineland, he has finally found himself on a hot streak since losing the bantamweight championship to Chase Beebe over three years ago. Similar to Pickett, Wineland is on the verge of a title shot but needs a big-name victory to prove he deserves a crack at the championship.

     

    January's Key Fights

    None


    Rankings

    Noteworthy- Demetrious Johnson (8-1), Norifumi Yamamoto (18-3-0-1) & Antonio Banuelos (19-6)

    10- Wagnney Fabiano (14-3)

    9- Charlie Valencia (12-6)

    8- Takeya Mizugaki (13-5-3)

    7- Scott Jorgensen (11-4)

    6- Eddie Wineland (18-6-1)

    5- Urijah Faber (24-4)

    4- Miguel Torres (37-3)

    3- Brian Bowles (8-1)

    2- Joseph Benavidez (13-2)

    1- Brad Pickett (20-5)

    Champion- Dominic Cruz (17-1)

Featherweight Division

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    December's Key Fights

    Leonard Garcia vs. Nam Phan

    Once again, Leonard Garcia was showered with boos from the crowd as his hand was raised in victory. Many believe that the looping style of Garcia fell short to the quick, clean strikes of Nam Phan. However, two of the three judges thought otherwise, awarding the decision to Garcia.

    While the decision was proclaimed as garbage, the disturbing trend of booing a fighter for simply receiving a gift decision has got to go. The man just fought his heart out and a majority of the time, they know they lost the fight as well.

    When it comes to bad decisions, boo the judges, not the fighters.

     

    January's Key Fights

    Mike Brown vs. Diego Nunes

    Mike Brown got back on the right track after a disappointing loss to Manny Gamburyan with a win over Cole Province. Now, he gets a chance to score a big win over featherweight prospect Diego Nunes. This is a very important fight for Brown to determine where he really sits in the division.

    Similar to Brown, this bout is very important to see where Nunes really stands among the greatest featherweights of the world. He already holds some victories over tough opponents, but Brown will undoubtedly be Nunes toughest opponent to date.

    Time to shine boys.

    Josh Grispi vs. Dustin Poirier

    Whether it's being a true fighter, or just needing a paycheck, you've got to respect Josh Grispi for not bowing out of UFC 125 to wait for a proposed championship bout against Jose Aldo. It's a big risk going from No. 1 contender to fighting an opponent outside of the top 10.

    Splitting his first two WEC bouts, Dustin Poirier has a chance to make a giant splash in the UFC's featherweight division if he can knock off the well-rounded game of Grispi. With nothing to lose, do not count out Poirier's well-rounded game in this fight.

    Mark Hominick vs. George Roop

    Winner of six of his last seven, Mark Hominick has the chance to establish himself of as one of the UFC's top featherweight contenders. Currently on a four-fight win streak, a win would put Hominick one or possibly two fights out of a title match.

    After head-kicking the "Korean Zombie" back into the grave, George Roop earned himself a chance to fight a top ten opponent. Finally finding a comfort zone within a division, Roop could use his size advantage to shoot up through the ranks with a victory over Hominick.

     

    Rankings

    Noteworthy- George Roop (11-6-1),  Leonard Garcia (15-6-1) & Nam Phan (16-8)

    10- Raphael Assuncao (15-3)

    9- Michihiro Omigawa (12-8-1)

    8- Diego Nunes (15-1)

    7- Urijah Faber (24-4)

    6- Mike Brown (24-6)

    5- Manny Gamburyan (11-5)

    4- Erik Koch (11-1)

    3-Chad Mendes (9-0)

    2- Mark Hominick (19-8)

    1- Josh Grispi (14-1)

    Champion- Jose Aldo Jr. (18-1)

Lightweight Division

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    December's Key Fights

    Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis

    "OH MY GOODNESS! DID YOU SEE THAT? HE RAN OFF THE WALL LIKE A NINJA!" Stephan Bonnar

    Although this fight had much more to offer than the amazing matrix kick executed by the WEC's final lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, that was the moment that stuck out and will forever be one of the ultimate MMA highlights.

    A back-and-forth affair between Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis had the crowd on their feet for most of the fight. Pettis landing the better of the strikes as expected, Henderson with better control once the fight hit the ground.

    Neither man should be ashamed with the outcome, although with what was at stake, it's easy to see how one can be upset. Either way, whoever the judges said won the fight, won the fight. It was too close of a battle to say there was a clear-cut winner.

    Get ready for a big leap in competition Pettis, you're facing the best of the best now.

    Jim Miller vs. Charles Oliveira

    This fight went down as most level-headed fans predicted. Even though Charles Oliveira was riding mighty high following two exciting submission victories, his next challenger was a new breed of a fighter that Oliveira had yet to see.

    Being well-rounded, Jim Miller can fight just about anywhere and find success. Deciding to avoid the fast-pace striking game that Oliveira was deploying, Miller took the fight to the ground where both battled for submissions. In a battle of leg locks, Miller eventually forced the tap from Oliveira after securing a tight knee bar.

    Miller is on the cusp of that title shot, one more win against an established contender should push him over that hump. Somebody like Sean Sherk or the winner of the Takanori Gomi/ Clay Guida fight.

    Joe Stevenson vs. Mac Danzig

    Joe Stevenson's career has taken a dramatic turn over the past couple of years. Once a title challenger, he is now struggling to get a winning streak going. Losing two straight, Stevenson has officially fallen from the top ten of a tough division.

    The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 winner, Mac Danzig pulled himself from the slump that he's been experiencing. Once on the verge of the UFC axe, Danzig stunned many fans with a knockout punch over a former contender and has proved that he still belongs in the UFC.

     

    January's Key Fights

    Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard (Championship Bout)

    Despite evolving his game to another level, UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar finds himself as the underdog to the much larger Gray Maynard. Not only will Edgar be looking to once again establish himself as the best lightweight in the world, but he will also be looking to erase the only loss on his record.

    Challenging for his first ever title, Maynard has done well in going about his business and biding his time for the shot. Looking to prove that the first time wasn't a fluke, look for Maynard to try and bully Edgar around the cage for five rounds.

    Although many signs point towards another lightweight championship decision, don't give up hope just yet. Low expectations generally result in more satisfaction.

    Takanori Gomi vs. Clay Guida

    The winner of this bout will get the first big name required to start a legitimate title run in a very stacked division. Expect both fighters to bring in a very steady pace with their respected styles.

    Clay Guida will undoubtedly look to get the fight to the ground while Takanori Gomi will look to sprawl and counter-strike with his opponent's frenetic take-downs. Whoever finds their rhythm first will likely find himself with his hand raised.

    Evan Dunham vs. Melvin Guillard

    Originally scheduled to face Yves Edwards on the same Ultimate Fight Night 23 card, Melvin Guillard jumped at the chance to rise his stock against a top 10 opponent when an injury forced Kenny Florian from a fight against Evan Dunham. A win would be huge for Guillard and would likely propel him into the top ten of title contention.

    Even though many believed that Evan Dunham didn't really lose his last fight, expect the BJJ black belt to come in looking for a convincing finish to avoid the judges and prove he deserves his spot in the top ten. How that will play out against the wild-yet-tame style of Guillard, only time will tell.

     

    Rankings

    Noteworthy-  Nick Lentz (20-3), Tyson Griffin (14-5), Melvin Guillard (26-8-2-1), & Ben Henderson (12-2)

    10- Clay Guida (27-11)

    9- Evan Dunham (11-1)

    8- Kenny Florian (13-5)

    7- Sean Sherk (34-4-1)

    6-  B.J. Penn (16-7-1)

    5- Takanori Gomi (32-6-0-1)

    4- George Sotiropoulos (14-2)

    3- Jim Miller (19-2)

    2- Anthony Pettis (12-1)

    1- Gray Maynard (10-0-0-1)
     
    Champion- Frankie Edgar (13-1)

Welterweight Division

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    December's Key Fights

    Georges St. Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck

    With all of the "safe fighter" criticism that dominant welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre has received, the French Canadian flipped the script with his strategy and opted to strike with Josh Koscheck for a major portion of their match.

    While many believed that Koscheck held the striking advantage, St. Pierre once again showed that when he sticks with his game plan, he holds the technical advantage over most fighters in the UFC. Establishing a powerful and effective jab, St. Pierre had disrupted Koscheck's timing and range in every round, as well as fracturing his orbital bone early in the fight.

    Another dominating performance by the champion. Jake Shields better be weary.

    Thiago Alves vs. John Howard

    After losing to the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 welterweights of the world in consecutive bouts, it was important for Thiago Alves to put on a dominating performance against John Howard to remind fans how much of a wrecking machine he is.

    Although Howard was very game and survived all three rounds, Alves displayed why his Muay Thai is considered among the best in the UFC. He devastated Howard with sickening leg kicks and well-timed strikes, as well as mixing up his game and showing off some nice take-downs.

    As good as Alves has proved he is, he needs to be fighting top competition, but most are already locked up in future bouts. Give him Paulo Thiago.

     

    January's Key Fights

    Nate Diaz vs. Dong Hyun Kim

    In the opinion of many, the UFC's welterweight division is arguably the deepest of the company in terms of overall skill and potential contenders. A win for either fighter more than likely won't propel them into the top ten as neither are established contenders, yet it will keep them on the verge of a spot among the elite.

     

    Rankings

    Noteworthy- Matt Hughes (45-8), Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1-1), Anthony Johnson (8-3) & Jake Ellenberger (23-5)

    10- Paulo Thiago (13-3)

    9- Diego Sanchez (22-4)

    8- B.J. Penn (16-7-1)

    7- Josh Koscheck (15-5)

    6- Dan Hardy (23-8)

    5- Thiago Alves (17-7)

    4-Martin Kampmann (17-4)

    3- Carlos Condit (26-5)

    2- Jake Shields (26-4-1)

    1- Jon Fitch (23-3)

    Champion- Georges St. Pierre (21-2)

Middleweight Divison

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    December's Key Fights

    Demian Maia vs. Kendall Grove

    Grove had nothing to lose in challenging the former No. 1 contender Maia at The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 Finale. However, Maia quickly showed why he is widely considered one of the best middleweight fighters in the world by controlling Grove easily throughout all three rounds. Grove deserves some love though as he once again flaunted his under-rated grappling defense against a superior grappler.

    Grove's willingness to scrap with the best will likely get him another crack at a high profile name very soon. Maia on the other hand will likely battle against another top ten fighter in hopes of redeeming himself in his title quest.

     

    January's Key Fights

    Chris Leben vs. Brian Stann

    Ask and you shall receive Stann. Going from fighting Mike Massenzio to Chris Leben is a huge step up in competition, but this is exactly how new contenders establish themselves in the division. Similar to last month's matchup between Maia and Grove, Stann as nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    It's going to take a lot for Stann to pull this one out though as Leben as proved himself to be about as versatile as they come and even harder to finish. Leben is the odds-on favorite to win this fight, but he definitely shouldn't be looking past the "All American" as that could spell disaster to his hot streak.

     

    Rankings

    Noteworthy- Maiquel Falcao (26-3), Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-3), Alessio Sakara (15-7-1) & C.B. Dolloway (11-2)

    10- Mark Munoz (9-2)

    9- Chris Leben (21-6)

    8- Alan Belcher (16-6)

    7- Demian Maia (13-2)

    6- Michael Bisping (20-3)

    5- Nate Marquardt (30-10-2)

    4- Wanderlei Silva (33-10-1-1)

    3- Chael Sonnen (24-11-1)

    2- Yushin Okami (26-5)

    1- Vitor Belfort (19-8)

    Champion- Anderson Silva (27-4)


Light-Heavyweight Division

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    December's Key Fights

    None


    January's Key Fights

    Thiago Silva vs. Brandon Vera

    With both fighters coming off of injuries, it's important for them to come in with a strong showing and firmly plant their feet amongst the rest of the talent-rich top 10.

    Although Silva has only lost to two of the best in the division (Evans & Machida,) a loss against Vera would be his second in a row and would cripple his title run drastically. Expect Silva to aggressively attack his opponent in typical Silva-fashion.

    Vera has a lot more pressure on him to come in and put on a strong performance than his opponent. Losing his last two fights, he is likely fighting for his UFC career against Silva. Vera has been down this road before though, look for the on-again version of Vera to show up on January 1st.

     

    Rankings

    Noteworthy: Randy Couture (19-10) & Matt Hamill (10-2)

    10- Rich Franklin (27-5-0-1)

    9- Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-4)

    8- Ryan Bader (12-0)

    7- Forrest Griffin (17-6)

    6- Thiago Silva (14-2)

    5- Anderson Silva (27-4)

    4- Jon Jones (11-1)

    3- Lyoto Machida (16-2)

    2- Quinton Jackson (30-7)

    1- Rashad Evans (19-1-1)

    Champion- Mauricio Rua (19-4)

Heavyweight Division

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    December's Key Fights

    Stefan Struve vs. Sean McCorkle

    As many people predicted, the skyscraper of a man in Struve was too much of a leap up in competition for the fight-selling mouth of McCorkle. Although McCorkle impressively spent part of the round controlling Struve on the ground, he ultimately let the pressure get to him and lost his momentum. Struve executed a beautiful kimura sweep right into full mount, where he was able to rain down several unanswered shots to end the fight.

    Struve appears to be set to put his fast-rising stock on the line against fellow heavyweight prospect Brendan Schaub.

     

    January's Key Fights

    None


    Rankings

    Noteworthy: Ben Rothwell (31-7) & Travis Browne (10-0-1)

    10- Brendan Schaub (7-1)

    9- Mirko Filipovic (27-8-2)

    8- Stefan Struve (21-4)

    7- Cheick Kongo (15-6-2)

    6- Roy Nelson (15-5)

    5- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1)

    4- Frank Mir (14-5)

    3- Shane Carwin (12-1)

    2- Brock Lesnar (5-2)

    1- Junior dos Santos (12-1)

    Champion- Cain Velasquez (9-0)

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