UFC 128 Results: Ranking Nate Marquardt and the UFC's Top 10 Middleweights
The UFC middleweight division is still Anderson Silva's world. Everyone else is just paying rent until Georges St. Pierre starts gaining muscle mass.
That doesn't mean, however, that there isn't plenty of action elsewhere in the divisional rankings. So if my giving away the obvious ending hasn't soured you, please read on.
10. Mark Munoz
After destroying C.B. Dollaway a few weeks ago, this stone-handed wrestler is on his way back up. Now 5-2 in the UFC, the only losses on Munoz's record came against Yushin Okami and Matt Hamill.
A June matchup with Demian Maia will help determine whether Munoz can hang with top competition, or should remain outside the gate on the outskirts of the city.
9. Alan Belcher
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Not one but two surgeries for a detached right retina have shelved The Talent since last May. No one has spoken publicly about his recovery in recent months, but at the time of the first operation, Belcher tweeted that he hoped to eventually return to action.
Another few months may, unfortunately, move Belcher off this list, but he is a good fighter who had built some momentum by winning four of his last five fights.
Here's hoping he makes a full recovery and is back in the cage soon. With his previous four bouts earning either Submission of the Night or Fight of the Night bonuses from Dana White, his absence is the fans' loss.
8. Vitor Belfort
Observers have long wanted and expected the colorful, quick-handed Belfort to emerge as a legitimate star. But it seems every time he has a chance to seize the limelight, all he can do is seize up.
We'll see if Belfort has put The Front Kick behind him when he takes to the cage for his next fight, which is rumored to be against Wanderlei Silva, possibly this August when the UFC returns to Brazil.
7. Demian Maia
Photo credit: Gracie Mag
Arguably the best jiu-jitsu practitioner in the entire UFC, Maia (14-2) has fallen short against only Anderson Silva and Nate Marquardt.
He dispatched Kendall Grove in December and will go for his third straight victory and another step up the rankings ladder when he takes on Munoz this June.
6. Michael Bisping
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The Count has had plenty of rough patches lately in the PR department, but his recent efforts inside the cage have gone rather smoothly, thank you very much.
In his next fight, Bisping will be trying for his fourth straight UFC win since dropping a decision to Wanderlei Silva 13 months ago.
Something tells me his next fight will be a little tougher than Jorge Rivera. Nate Marquardt and Chael Sonnen have both been rather open about their desire to fight Bisping. Given that they are equally generous with their personal opinions of the Brit, it seems to be business as usual for Bisping on the hype-generation side of The Count's operation.
5. Wanderlei Silva
Photo credit: MMA Convert
Wandy is on a bit of a precipice as far as these rankings are concerned.
Silva last fought in February of 2010, when he beat Bisping by unanimous decision. Since then, he has spent his time recovering from knee surgery. No return fight is yet on the books, but Vitor Belfort seems like a leading candidate (buckle your belt for that one).
The 34-year-old Axe Murderer has lost five of seven fights, but he's a perfect 1-0 at middleweight; because that victory came over one of the division's top guys, he gets the benefit of the doubt for now. But if it turns out that the move down to 185 does not stanch the outflow of mojo Silva has suffered in recent years, he may not be long for this list.
4. Nate Marquardt
Marquardt took the fight at UFC 128 on short notice after Yoshihiro Akiyama pulled out. But he still punished Dan Miller for three rounds to earn a comfortable victory.
Nevertheless, after the fight Marquardt (31-10-2) talked not about moving up the middleweight rankings, but rather moving down to the welterweight division. Sounds like someone has a case of arachnophobia. Not that I blame him.
Here's hoping Marquardt at least makes good on his pledge to engage Michael Bisping before he seriously initiates such a plan. Something tells me that would be a good one.
3. Yushin Okami
I have a suggestion for Okami's new entrance music: the Final Jeopardy theme song.
It would work on a couple of levels. First, it mirrors the noise in the average fan's head as Okami goes about his business of scoring points and generally resisting the urge to, you know, fight. Secondly, it mirrors the noise in Okami's head as he waits for the title shot he earned by defeating Marquardt back in November.
Given that he could be on the shelf for literally years while this whole Anderson Silva-Georges St. Pierre thing plays out, maybe entrance music isn't Okami's highest priority at the moment.
2. Chael Sonnen
Anderson Silva is No. 1 until he loses. Ditto Sonnen and the No. 2 position.
He has previously bested Marquardt and Okami. Like Okami, his future path in the UFC is clouded by the GSP-Silva superfight. Oh, and there's also the steroids suspension and the money-laundering conviction, which are also providing considerable cloudiness.
I guess we'll have a better idea of what will become of Sonnen after his sentencing on March 28. Here's hoping, for Sonnen's sake, that the sentencing judge isn't wearing a pink tie that day.
Strange to think that Saturday's Dan Miller-Nate Marquardt fight was originally Chael Sonnen-Yoshihiro Akiyama. Just throwing it out there.