UFC 128: Shogun vs Jones is upon us and the excitement is rising as UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua makes his long awaited return after knee surgery to defend his belt for the first time against 23-year-old phenom Jon "Bones" Jones.
Although much of the hype this week surrounds the main event between Shogun and Jones, the former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber is scheduled to make his UFC debut against former WEC bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland.
Despite being on a patchy stretch since losing his WEC title back in November of 2008, Faber has always been one of the more well rounded fighters of the sport. Faber defended the WEC featherweight title six times and utilized a combination of strong wrestling, excellent grappling and tenacious striking in all of his title defenses.
On that note, let's have a look at seven other fighters who rank a top the list of well rounded fighters.
Nick Diaz checks in at number seven on this list, some may question why he even makes the cut.
The fact of the matter is Diaz has more tools in his tool box than most of the other fighters out there. Diaz is the current Strikeforce welterweight champion and his record stands at 24-7. Diaz has been stopped only twice in his career and he has never been submitted.
Part of the reason five of Diaz's seven losses are by decision is because of the skill set he brings into the octagon each and every fight. Not only does Diaz sport a Cesar Gracie black belt in Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu, Diaz also made a successful foray into professional boxing at one time and he currently trains with professional and Olympic boxers on a regular basis.
High level boxing and Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu that should be enough right? Not for Diaz it isn't, all the tools in the world won't make a difference if you don't have the physical ability to apply them. That is why people can see Diaz compete in things like Iron Man triathlons to stay in shape. For people who maybe know what a triathlon is, but don't know what an Iron Man entails it is basically a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a marathon (26.2 mile run).
Some people spend their whole lives training to complete an Iron Man, but Diaz participates in them on the side for it is his mixed martial arts career that is in the forefront.
The combination of Diaz's boxing, Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu and athletic ability make it hard for anyone to justify not putting Diaz on this list. The reason he isn't higher up on the list mainly has to do with the fact that despite being the current Strikeforce welterweight champion, he isn't always fighting the best fighters available and that is because most of them reside in the UFC.
At 19—4 and being the current UFC light heavyweight champ it is hard not to put Mauricio "Shogun" Rua on this list.
Rua is defending his belt against Jon Jones this Saturday at UFC 128. Even if Rua loses his title to Jones he will still go down as one of the most well rounded fighters on the planet. When a fighter's list of victories include the likes of guys named; Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman, Alistair Overeem, Kevin Randleman, Ricardo Arona, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Quinton Jackson it is hard not to call this guy well rounded.
Rua has fought the best and he has beat the best, he was the Pride FC middleweight champion and now has UFC gold around his waist.
Not only has Rua done well in mixed martial arts, but the Brazilian has also placed highly in Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu competitions now sporting a black belt and has has won fights on Muay Thai circuits as well.
Mauricio does not have many submission victories to his name, but he has only been submitted twice in his career, one time against Jiu—Jitsu ace Renato Sobral and once when coming back from major knee surgery against former UFC champion Forest Griffin.
Rua would be higher on the list, but he does lack a bit in the wrestling department and despite his record he has had some very poor performances against guys he should have demolished. A win over Jon Jones however would definitely push Rua further up the list.
To top it off, not only is Rua's skill set in the octagon a scary one to deal with, but he seems to have it all in his personal life as well. Rua is a former model and have a look at his wife Renata Ribeiro in the picture, not too shabby.
Let's face the facts, Dominick Cruz is the former WEC bantamweight champion which has since become the UFC bantamweight championship since the absorption of the WEC by the UFC. Cruz's record also stands at an impressive 17—1.
Once a high school wrestler with a lot of promise prior to an ankle injury that put off any plans at a college career has added elements of boxing and excellent movement to his mixed martial arts game that have paid off.
A lone loss to former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber is the only thing that mars this young man's record.
Cruz has defeated wrestlers, strikers, grapplers and guys with a mix of all three to get to where he is today.
Cruz would be higher up on the list, but the competition in the bantamweight division has not always been the best. Revenge over Urijah Faber, a fight that is sure to come to fruition should Faber win this weekend would surely help move Cruz up this list.
Lyoto Machida has hit a rough patch in his career, after going 16—0, holding and defending the UFC light heavyweight title Machida has lost two straight.
Machida lost for the first time in his second title defense against current UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua. The two had met before in Machida's first title defense, but Machida won a very controversial decision that resulted in an immediate rematch. In the rematch Rua didn't leave anything for the judges to decide as he knocked out Lyoto in devastating fashion.
Since losing the title Machida has fought once and was on the losing end of what many felt was once again a controversial decision to Quinton Jackson.
Despite the two fight losing streak it's hard to forget the intangibles that Machida brings to the fight game.
Lyoto is a black belt in Machida Karate, a style of Karate that Lyoto's father Yoshizo perfected. Lyoto is one of a very few fighters to successfully implement Karate in the octagon. Not only is Lyoto successful with his Karate, but his elusiveness has allowed him to avoid virtually any kind of damage through his first 15 professional fights.
In addition to his Karate, Lyoto also sports a black belt in Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu as well as training in Sumo and wrestling to round out his game.
Lyoto has defeated strong wrestlers like former light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans. Machida also knocked out power puncher and skilled Jiu—Jitsu practitioner Thiago Alves.
Even against well rounded guys like Rich Franklin, Stephan Bonnar and BJ Penn Lyoto has come through with the victory.
If it weren't for his derailment which was caused by Mauricio Rua there is a very good chance Lyoto would be at the top of this list. Lyoto's journey back to the top begins when he takes on a savvy veteran and standout wrestler in Randy Couture at UFC 129 in Toronto.
Similarly to Lyoto Machida, Fedor Emelianenko has fallen upon hard times dropping his last two fights to Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu ace Fabricio Werdum and monstrous up and comer Antonio Silva.
Even though Fedor has lost his last two prior to that the Russian was an impressive 31—1 and one no contest over a span of close to 10 years. The one loss was actually a technicality due to the fact that Fedor had a cut that stopped him from continuing in a tournament, so he was automatically awarded with a loss.
During Fedor's impressive run, he put away more than half a dozen former champions and has beaten great wrestlers, incredible grapplers, devastating strikers and guys with a solid mix of skills along the way.
In addition to Fedor's unfathomable record, the Russian also holds a black belt in Judo a sport where he has medaled both on the national and international levels. If that isn't enough, Fedor has also reached the highest level in his country's native sport Combat Sambo and once again he has medaled on numerous occasions on both the national and international level in the sport.
Not only has Fedor looked incredibly well rounded throughout the course of his career, but the Russian has always fought in a division with men who are march larger and stronger than he. Fedor's fighting weight has always been around the 230 pound mark and that clearly isn't 230 pounds of muscle. Despite his physique he has had no problems putting away guys that weight 60 or more pounds than he does, until meeting Antonio Silva.
If it weren't for the two losses in a row and had Fedor fought the best in the world on a more consistent basis he could very well be the number one or two guy on this list.
Anderson Silva sits at number two and there isn't very much to say aside from the fact that he is one of the most dangerous fighters to have ever competed in the sport.
What makes Anderson so well rounded? First of all a fighter with more black belts than Anderson probably doesn't exist .Silva holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu, Judo and Taekwondo. In addition to his three black belts, Silva also possesses a yellow rope in his country's native martial art of Capoeira.
Forget about the belts for a minute, Silva has defended his UFC middleweight title eight times and is currently 28—4 with his last loss coming by disqualification back in January of 2006.
While defending his title Silva has beaten Olympic caliber wrestlers in the form of Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen. Silva has dispatched world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners like Demian Maia and Travis Lutter. What about the strikers of the middleweight division? Look what happened to Vitor Belfort in round one of Silva's last fight. Belfort has shown success not only in mixed martial arts, but professional boxing as well and Silva put him to sleep with one kick.
It was very tempting to put Anderson Silva at number one, if this were a pound for pound ranking he would definitely be there. However, the one weakness in Anderson Silva's armor is his wrestling.
Despite submitting Olympic caliber wrestler Chael Sonnen with a little over a minute left in round five during their championship fight, Silva was completely dominated by Chael's wrestling for the other 23 minutes of that fight.
In addition to struggling with Sonnen, former Olympic Wrestler Dan Henderson used his wrestling to control and win round one off of Silva before tiring in the second round and ultimately losing.
The number one spot on this list is reserved for a guy who doesn't really show any signs of weakness no matter where the fight takes place.
The ranking and placement of a lot of fighters on this list can be argued, there is no doubting that. However, to argue that current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre doesn't deserve to be at number one is a difficult argument to put fourth.
Of course, St. Pierre was knocked out by Matt Serra, but it is what the champ has done since then that really solidifies him as number one.
Not only did St. Pierre avenge his loss to Serra to regain his title he has defended that title five times in a row and he will attempt to make it six against Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto.
One can also argue that St. Pierre doesn't have the greatest knockout power or has trouble finishing fights. The one thing that one can't argue is that St. Pierre regardless of whether he finishes the fight or not has the knack for making world class fighters and athletes look like amateurs of the sport and he can do this standing up, on the ground or from the clinch.
St. Pierre has utterly dominated the best wrestlers in his division by beating guys like Matt Hughes, Jon Fitch and Josh Koschek. He has put clinics on dangerous strikers and Brazilian Jiu—Jitsu practitioners in B.J. Penn and Thiago Alves.
Georges' wrestling is up there with the former Olympians and college wrestlers of the sport, the difference being that St. Pierre never wrestled in high school or college. There has even been talk of St. Pierre wrestling in the Olympics for the Canadian Olympic team.
In has last fight against Josh Koscheck, St. Pierre dictated that the fight stay standing where he utilized one of the best jabs in mixed martial arts to take away Josh's right field of vision.
On top of his skill set, St. Pierre is a tremendous athlete who is always in peak physical condition even during the off season.
So there you have it folks, Georges St. Pierre rounds out the list. There is a lot that can be debated and making lists like this are definitely a difficult feat when there are so many guys with well rounded skill sets. That being said, these rankings are the way this writer sees it.
Leon Horne has been contributing to Bleacher Report for two years now. He focuses mainly on mixed martial arts, but he has also written about tennis, football and hockey. Just send him a message if you want to talk sports or discuss any opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter for updates: