At UFC 131, Mark Munoz edged out Demian Maia to become a serious contender in the middleweight division. At the same time, Maia showed much-improved striking and could become a threat again in the very near future.
Also, Chris Weidman and Nick Ring picked up important victories that could give them each a step up in competition. Neither fighter has made his way into the top 10 middleweights in the UFC, but they might be in the mix with a couple more wins.
Let's take a look at where Munoz and Maia stand after their back-and-forth chess match.
MMA Record: 21-3
Since losing to Wanderlei Silva, Michael Bisping has won his last three fights and is looking to get back into the mix for the middleweight title shot that has eluded him for years.
Bisping will have a chance to get plenty of attention in the near future, as he will coach against Jason Miller in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
MMA Record: 33-10-1, 1 NC
Silva has not fought since defeating Bisping in his middleweight debut at UFC 110. The 34-year-old Silva dropped to middleweight after losing five of his last six fights at light heavyweight.
Silva's next fight will come against Chris Leben at UFC 132 in July. With a win, Silva could find himself on a fast track to a late-career title shot.
MMA Record: 11-3
Brian Stann has gone 3-0 since dropping from light heavyweight to middleweight and is already considered one of the top contenders in the division.
In his last fight, Stann rudely welcomed Jorge Santiago back to the UFC and may have guaranteed himself a fight for the spot as the top contender in the division.
MMA Record: 14-3
Despite his loss to Munoz, Maia showed a ton of improvement on his feet at UFC 131. If that progression continues, Maia will be right back in the argument for a spot in the top five middleweights in the UFC before long.
Maia's only losses of his career have come against elite middleweights Munoz, Nate Marquardt and Anderson Silva.
MMA Record: 11-2
Since dropping to middleweight, Munoz has gone 6-1 with his only loss coming against top contender Yushin Okami.
Munoz is a serious contender and may be ready for a shot at becoming the next top contender after Okami.
MMA Record: 31-10-2
Despite winning his last fight at middleweight, Nate Marquardt has decided to test the welterweight waters for his next fight.
Until Marquardt fights at welterweight, he will remain eligible for these middleweight rankings.
MMA Record: 19-9
More than anyone on this list, opinion on where Vitor Belfort belongs is up for discussion. With his only middleweight fight in the UFC ending in a knockout loss to Anderson Silva, there is an argument for having him much lower on the totem pole.
However, Belfort did dominate the last UFC Middleweight Champion, Rich Franklin, in his fight prior to meeting Silva, so let's reserve definitive judgement on Belfort's most accurate position until we see how he fares against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133.
MMA Record: 26-5
Yushin Okami's record speaks for itself. Okami's only losses in nearly seven years have come against elite fighters in Jake Shields, Rich Franklin and Chael Sonnen.
Okami will get a chance to show that he belongs in the same breath as those fighters when he meets UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva at UFC 134.
MMA Record: 25-11-1
In the first version of my middleweight rankings that I posted after Chael Sonnen's heartbreaking loss to Anderson Silva, there was essentially universal agreement that Sonnen was the second-best middleweight in the world.
However, even though little has changed as far as actual competition goes, there has been a growing amount of disagreement about Sonnen's position with each edition of these middleweight rankings. I guess that goes to show how quickly public perception can change when you are in the news for the wrong reasons.
MMA Record: 28-4
I'm running out of things to say about Anderson Silva when it comes to descriptions for these middleweight rankings. For nearly five years, he has sat atop the UFC's middleweight division, and rarely has he even been given a challenge.
In his next title defense, Silva will attempt to avenge his most recent loss, which happened against Yushin Okami all the way back in January 2006.