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MMA's Top 15 Pound-for-Pound Fighters on the Planet

Todd SeylerContributor IJuly 10, 2011

MMA's Top 15 Pound-for-Pound Fighters on the Planet

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    As predictable as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, every few months a new list of the world's top pound-for-pound MMA fighters is released by Sherdog.com.

    Just as predictably, debate ensues as to not only who deserves the top status as the world's best mixed martial artist, but also which fighters should represent this prestigious list.

    Additionally, the qualitative measurements necessary to determine a fighter's ranking are also heavily scrutinized.

    Blogs and threads on various websites typically include the following questions, which avalanche into heated debates.

    Is Anderson Silva the top pound-for-pound fighter? Or is Georges St-Pierre the king of this throne? What determines the top spot? How heavily weighted are finishing fights, level of competition, winning streaks, dominance inside the cage and so on?

    Quite honestly, I do not know how Sherdog.com creates the pound-for-pound ranking. I also do not precisely know the factors that are sorted through in determining the best mixed martial artists on the planet.

    What I do know is that MMA is the most dynamic sport in this world. These fighters are the greatest athletes and perform at the highest level of competition known to man. Their individual performances inside the Octagon deserve accolades regardless of an inconsequential pound-for-pound ranking.

    However, one aspect of journalism is to question what is provided as doctrine. Therefore, I have created my own top 15 pound-for-pound list of the top mixed martial artists on the planet.

    The order of my list is based on the individual's overall performances inside the Octagon: his ability to finish fights, the level of competition during his matchups and his current win streak, proving dominance inside the cage.

    I realize that this slideshow will create quite a stir. Please feel free to voice your opinion. After all, without debate, our beloved sport would not reach the level of mass appeal that it certainly enjoys.

    I welcome your comments.

    Todd Seyler

    "Like" me on Facebook and/or Follow me on Twitter.

No. 15: Hector Lombard

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    Simply put, the current Bellator middleweight champion, Hector Lombard, is a knockout artist.

    With 29 victories, 16 by KO, Lombard is a striking machine. Couple his affinity to stand and trade in the center of the cage with his world-class judo background, and Lombard will annihilate opposition on his feet or on the mat.

    A tremendously powerful striker who possesses explosive force, Lombard has the fast knockout on record at just six seconds.

    Fighting in what most would consider an inferior organization in the Bellator promotion, Lombard's abilities cannot be diminished by the fact that he is king of the middleweight throne outside of the UFC.

    I savor the day when Lombard is on the roster of the UFC middleweight division. Only then will due accolades be provided to this phenomenal MMA practitioner.

No. 14: Eddie "The Silent Assassin" Alvarez

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    Like No. 15 choice Hector Lombard, Eddie Alvarez does not receive his due tribute as a superior mixed martial artist.

    With an overall MMA record of 22-2, Alvarez has dominated the Bellator lightweight division since capturing the championship belt in 2009.

    A highly esteemed amateur wrestler and tremendous boxer, Alvarez has compiled 12 knockout victories and seven submission wins on his impressive résumé.

    Could Alvarez challenge the likes of current UFC lightweight stars such as Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Clay Guida? 

    Time will determine whether or not Alvarez is provided the opportunity to challenge the world's best.

    In the meantime, I believe that Alvarez deserves the No. 14 ranking on this list.

No. 13: Jake Shields

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    Until his most recent loss to current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, Jake Shields was on a tear, defeating 15 straight opponents, including Dan Henderson, Martin Kampmann, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler and Jason Miller.

    A Cesar Gracie disciple with a high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Shields has added a complementary stand-up skill set to his tremendously versatile ground game.

    Competing against the hard-hitting Jake Ellenberger in September of this year, Shields will once again look to rise through the ranks and challenge GSP for the welterweight title.

No. 12: "The Bully" Gray Maynard

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    The only fighter to hold a victory over current UFC lightweight title holder Frankie Edgar, "The Bully" Gray Maynard was a few punches away from defeating Edgar a second time and capturing the championship belt.

    In a war for the ages, Maynard pushed Edgar to his limits during their championship fight back on New Year's Day, which resulted in a split-decision draw for the two combatants.

    An excellent grappler with a solid stand-up striking arsenal, Maynard will once again look to defeat Edgar as the two battle for the third time during this upcoming fall.

No. 11: Jon Fitch

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    With a 23-3 MMA record, Jon Fitch has grinded out impressive victories over Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago.

    Recently marred in a draw with UFC superstar BJ Penn in February of this year, a rematch between these two welterweight competitors will take place sometime in the near future.

    Labeled a boring fighter due to his grind it out mentality during his fights, Fitch continues to stack up victories against the top of the division.

    Outside of his loss to Georges St-Pierre in 2008 and his most recent draw with Penn, Fitch is undefeated within the UFC.

No. 10: "Suga" Rashad Evans

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    A former Ultimate Fighter reality show winner, as well as a former UFC light heavyweight champion, "Suga" Rashad Evans has amassed an impressive 15-1-1 MMA record.

    Engulfed in a media blitz surrounding his former teammate and current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, as well as a Twitter feud with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Evans continues to climb up the light heavyweight ladder regardless of the out-of-the-cage distractions.

    Holding victories over the legendary Chuck Liddell as well as the aforementioned Jackson and Forrest Griffin, Evans is a stable force inside the Octagon.

    Challenging rising prospect Phil Davis at UFC 133, a victory over the young, undefeated Davis will secure Evans an eventual opportunity to face Jones for the UFC light heavyweight championship.

No. 9: Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez

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    The current Strikeforce lightweight champion, Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez is 19-2 in his professional mixed martial arts career.

    Avenging his only two defeats with victories over Josh Thomson and Mitsuhiro Ishida, Melendez is on a five-fight winning streak.

    A tremendously gifted fighter, "El Nino" swarms his opposition with lightning-fast strikes, vicious punches and excellent movement.

    With the merger of Strikeforce and the UFC, it will only be time before Melendez is matched up against the best in the UFC lightweight division to truly test this amazing fighter's ability inside the Octagon.

No. 8: Junior "Cigano" dos Santos

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    Not yet a champion, Junior "Cigano" dos Santos possesses the skill set to one day sit atop the UFC heavyweight throne as king.

    An amazing boxer with dynamite in his punches, dos Santos has shown glimmers of wrestling superiority as well as excellent takedown defense and jiu-jitsu brilliance.

    Known for his thunderous punches and vicious knockouts, JDS has defeated all eight opponents he has faced inside the famed Octagon.

    With knockout victories over Stefan Struve, Fabricio Werdum and Gabriel Gonzaga, this human wrecking machine will look to KO the current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in their matchup for the ages on November 19th.

    Undefeated with five (T)KO victories inside the UFC, "Cigano" is deserving of his No. 8 placement on this list of the world's best pound-for-pound fighters.

No. 7: Dominick "The Dominator" Cruz

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    Most recently, Dominick "The Dominator" Cruz defended his UFC bantamweight championship belt against the highly versatile and tremendously talented Urijah Faber at UFC 132.

    With an incredible 18-1 MMA record, Cruz has compiled a list of victories over the top names in the division.

    Of those 18 victories, however, 11 have been awarded by decision. Cruz is legendary for his conditioning and nonstop movement inside the Octagon.

    Outpointing his opponents, "The Dominator" has not quite lived up to his nickname, with only six knockout wins and one submission victory.

    There is no doubt that Dominick Cruz is a champion and is deserving of the No. 7 ranking on this list. However, finishing his opposition will be the next evolution in Cruz's skill set.

No. 6: Cain Velasquez

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    Cain Velasquez began his ascension to the UFC heavyweight throne back in 2008 at UFC 83 with a TKO victory over Brad Morris at the 2:10 mark in Round 1.

    On that pivotal day in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a star was born.

    Fast-forward to 2011, and Cain Velasquez wears the most coveted belt within all of mixed martial arts.

    At 9-0 with eight (T)KO victories to his credit, Velasquez is an extremely talented stand-up striker. Honing his talents at the American Kickboxing Academy, this former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler has become the quintessential mixed martial artist who is balanced on the ground and on his feet.

    Obliterating the once-thought indestructible force in Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 to capture the championship, Velasquez has been since rehabbing an injury from that epic one-sided affair.

    A true test of his abilities will come soon when he looks to defend his title against the equally gifted and hard-hitting Junior dos Santos in the fall.

No. 5: Jon "Bones" Jones

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    Outside of Jose Aldo, Jon "Bones" Jones could be the greatest athlete to step foot inside the Octagon today.

    An absolute freak of nature, there is nothing that this current UFC light heavyweight champion cannot perform inside the cage.

    Known for his unorthodox and creative offense, Jones possesses the ability to strike from every angle and every position, on his feet or on the ground.

    Delivering spinning back elbows, spinning back kicks, leaping knees and every other conceivable strike, "Bones" has made the greatest 205-pound fighters look amateur inside the Octagon.

    Their is no ceiling to Jones' talents. He seemingly gets better with each fight.

    How long will this 23-year-old champion sit atop the lightweight division? Only Jon Jones knows the answer to that question. 

No. 4: Frankie "The Answer" Edgar

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    Frankie "The Answer" Edgar is the current UFC lightweight champion. With an overall MMA record of 13-1, this former Clarion University wrestling star is a tough-nosed, gritty, hard-working champion.

    Skeptics will debate his original victory over BJ Penn. Regardless of that controversy, Edgar has defeated Penn twice, Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin and Spencer Fisher.

    Displaying the heart of a champion and the testicular fortitude of the No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet in his last matchup with Gray Maynard, Edgar battled back from near-defeat in the first round of their epic five-round clash to secure a draw against "The Bully."

    Recovering from injuries, this Toms River, New Jersey product will engage in the third fight of the Edgar-Maynard trilogy when both competitors return to fighting shape.

No. 3: Jose Aldo "Junior"

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    The No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet is the current UFC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo "Junior."

    Equipped with an offensive arsenal unlike any other, Aldo delivers striking combinations that his opposition has no answer for.

    Delivering a left hook punch to the liver followed immediately by a thigh-crushing low kick has repeatedly damaged the greatest in the division.

    Steamrolling through the WEC competition en route to his first championship title, Aldo defeated the very best, including Urijah Faber, Mike Brown and Cub Swanson.

    Recently, Aldo successfully defended his UFC featherweight title against Mark "The Machine" Hominick.

    Outside of the fifth and final round, "Junior" was in complete control of the fight, knocking down "The Machine" multiple times and keeping the extremely talented kickboxer off balance with a myriad of striking combinations.

    An amazing athlete, a devastating striker and a champion at 24 years old, Aldo's talents could one day provide the young Brazilian the title of greatest mixed martial artist in the world.

No. 2: Georges "Rush" St-Pierre

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    The true debate regarding the world's top pound-for-pound fighter begins now. 

    Georges "Rush" St-Pierre is the current UFC welterweight champion. With an overall MMA record of 22-2, St-Pierre has defended his title a record six times and has defeated the very best in the welterweight division, including Matt Hughes, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Josh Koscheck and BJ Penn.

    St-Pierre has been scrutinized recently for his inability to finish fights with either a knockout or submission victory.

    Outpointing his opposition, "Rush" has formulated fight strategies for his recent matchups that have earned him decision victories.

    Because St-Pierre has gone the distance in five of his past six title defenses, I have positioned GSP as the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

    Regardless of my opinion, St-Pierre is a true champion, and in the end, he is a winner. 

    His next contest, against the extremely aggressive and equally versatile Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in October, should push St-Pierre to his maximum potential inside the Octagon.

    A definitive victory over Diaz in that matchup would reinforce the claim that GSP is the greatest MMA practitioner on the planet.

    If and when that victory occurs, I will humbly place St-Pierre at the top of this list. Until then, he is deserving of the No. 2 ranking as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

No. 1: Anderson "The Spider" Silva

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    Not surprisingly, my choice as the greatest mixed martial artist today is the current UFC middleweight champion, Anderson "The Spider" Silva.

    Here is a list of Silva's accolades while champion:

    - Won the title at UFC 64 in October of 2006 with a destructive victory over Rich Franklin.

    - Has successfully defended his championship a record eight times.

    - Has the most consecutive victories inside the UFC with 13.

    - Has beaten the very best talent placed in front of him, including Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia.

    As with St-Pierre, Silva's performances within the Octagon have created debate as to whether or not he is deserving of this ranking.

    Escaping with a victory over Chael Sonnen, seemingly taunting and toying with Demian Maia and arrogantly performing down to the level of competition against Thales Leites, Silva has not always executed inside the Octagon to the best of his ability.

    With that said, however, Silva is a destructive weapon inside the cage. He has knocked out the very best with precision kicks, lethal knees and explosive punches. There is not a better striker inside the Octagon today.

    Even though "The Spider" has shown moments of being human, he is truly a god within MMA and has rightfully earned the moniker of best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. 

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