I wanted to write this article because I have been watching UFC from the beginning, and I love the way the sport evolved and what it has become now.
I would also like the debate that this will stir up, and I would love to hear your thoughts. I will take all serious comments into consideration and revise and rewrite the article for the beginning of next year. Keep in mind one thing, I believe that if a fighter is coming off a loss he should start back from the beginning and work his way back up the ladder.
155 lbs (Lightweight)
1. Kenny Florian
Kenny has come a long way since his appearance on the TUF show. Although he lost in a dominating fashion to Sean Sherk, he hasn't lost since. He has upped his conditioning, and Muay Thai skills. He goes out to finish every fight, which always makes him a fan favorite. I believe he deserves a shot at the title next due to his current win streak, the level of competition he beat, and how easily he beat them.
2. Sean Sherk
I am very biased against fighters who do not finish fights. I do not believe someone holding someone else on the ground is winning a fight. However, when Sherk faced Griffin last fight they did not go to the ground at all. He out worked Griffin standing up, and has a decision win over Hermes Franca.
3. Roger Huerta
This is a guy who can work his way to being a champion. No one has conditioning as good as him, and with dominating wins over Leonard Garcia and Alberto Crane he’s earned this spot. I am not only considering the win itself, while fighting Crane Roger showed that he is a cerebral fighter thinking three steps ahead (evident when he looked up at the big screen to throw back elbows).
Fighters to watch for: Phillipe Nover, Junie Browning, Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard
170 lbs. (Welterweight)
1. Thiago Alves
Alves is at the peak of his career right now. Great conditioning, striking, and an ever improving takedown defense have gotten him pretty far. After finishing Karo Parisyan, Matt Hughes and dominating Josh Koscheck, this is an obvious choice.
2. Dustin Hazelett
He has great standup and amazing submissions. He has many “Submission of the Night” awards and is not afraid of taking risks to sink in some of the submissions. With wins over Josh Burkman, Tamdan Mcrory and Jonatan Goulet, he should clinch this spot.
3. Mike Swick
Swick is another fighter who came a long way from his original TUF appearance. His only loss is recent years is to Youshin Okami. He is a solid fighter who delivers solid performance. He is undefeated at 170 lbs. and holds wins over Josh Burkman, and Marcus Davis.
Fighters to watch for: Marcus Davis, Amir Sadollah, Josh Koscheck, Diego Sanches. (The only reason I did not rank those two is due to the fact that Koscheck recently lost to Alves and Sanches would have met the same fate.)
185 lbs. (Middleweight)
1. Patrick Cote
Cote is the only person to go to the third round with the current champion, and proved to be the hardest to finish. Solid striking ground skills and chin earn him this spot. He’s also helped because of his current win streak and performances in past fights.
2. Michael Bisping
Unbeaten at 185lbs, Bisping should be the next No.1 Contender soon. With impressive wins over Chris Leben and Jason Day, he is easily one win away from gaining that status. He also had a great run at 205 with his only loss coming at the hands of Rashad Evans.
3. Demian Maia
Maia is currently undefeated, and riding a four fight win streak against solid competition. Seamless transitioning jiu jitsu will bring this fighter to the No. 1 contender spot soon.
Fighters to watch for: Nate Marquardt, Kendall Grove, and Dan Henderson should he chose to come back to 185.
205 lbs (Light-Heavyweight)
1. Rashad Evans
Evans is the most underrated undefeated fighter. The only blemish on his record was the ridiculous draw to Tito Ortiz. His other claims to fame are his KO over the “Iceman”, and his decision win over Michael Bisping.
2. Lyoto Machida
Although I would like to see him fight more, he earns this spot with dominating wins in the UFC over likes of Ortiz, Sokoudjo, and Nakamura. He trains with Anderson Silva and I have seen him get the better of him during their sparring sessions.
3. Wanderlei Silva
He is a great striker and has a killer instinct. Coming off a knockout win over Jardine this is an easy choice for me to rank him No. 3. I attribute his loss to Chuck Liddell to being away from the octagon for so long.
Fighters to watch for: Matt Hamill, Chuck Liddell, Quinto Jackson
265 lbs (Heavyweight)
1. Anotonio Nogeira
Nogeira has some of the best ground skills in the division, and patience like no other. His wins over Heath Herring and Tim Sylvia put him in this position. Also, his is the other half of the Heavyweight championship right now.
2. Frank Mir
Mir has the second best ground skills in the division, and is the only man to defeat Brock Lesnar so far. The only reason he is not No. 1 is due to his two losses to Cruz, and Vera.
3. Randy Couture
You can never count him out. Although he should retire soon, no one else in the division can come close to testing him. He proved he still has it by beating Tim Sylvia and, surprisingly, taming Lesnar before the fight ending punch.
Fighters to watch for: Cheick Kongo, Cain Velazquez, Gabrial Gonzago, and Fabricio Werdum.
Let me know what your thoughts are guys this is my first of what should be many articles.