B/R MMA Official Rankings for December: Top 10 Middleweights in MMA
Bleacher Report MMA now brings you our official rankings for the month of December.
For the remainder of the month, things in the middleweight division will be relativity quiet. We will not see any of the higher ranked fighters in action, but all of that will change in early 2012 when we see Chael Sonnen face off against Mark Munoz at UFC on FOX 2.
Then, there is the ever-present question of when we will see Anderson Silva back in action and who he will face once he recovers from his injury.
So, who make the Top 10 for the month of December? Continue on to find out.
These rankings are the combined effort of some of Bleacher Report MMA's best writers, as we continue to try and provide you with the best content on the web.
10. Luke Rockhold
Most recent fight: Unanimous decision victory over Ronaldo Souza (Strikeforce - Barnett vs. Kharitonov)
Since suffering his only professional loss in his second fight, Rockhold has rattled off seven straight victories under the Strikeforce banner.
In his latest outing, Rockhold put on his greatest performance to date, as he out-pointed champion Ronaldo Souza in September to take home the Strikeforce middleweight strap.
On Jan. 7, Rockhold is scheduled to defend his title for the first time against UFC veteran Keith Jardine. While a betting line has yet to be established for this fight, there is little doubt that Rockhold will be the overwhelming favorite when the two step inside the Strikeforce cage.
9. Hector Lombard
Record: 31-2-1, 1 NC
Most recent fight: Second-round TKO victory over Trevor Prangley (Bellator 58)
Lombard is currently riding the longest winning streak in MMA history, going undefeated in his last 25 fights.
Usually, going undefeated in 25 fights would be a huge accomplishment, but when you look at his record, you will only find a handful of fighters who were ever ranked in the Top 10.
But nonetheless, Lombard is still considered one of the best middleweights on the planet.
He is set to defend the Bellator title against Season 5 tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko in a rematch of their title bout at Bellator 34. The date of the event is TBA.
8. Demian Maia
Most recent fight: Unanimous decision victory over Jorge Santiago (UFC 136)
Like most of the middleweights in the UFC, Maia is a very talented fighter, but just is not on par with the elite of the division.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better jiu-jitsu artist in his weight division, but that can also be his weakness.
Over his past few fights, Maia has shown an ever-improving stand-up game, but it is still remedial at best.
But with that said, Maia is a threat to anyone at any given time inside the Octagon. He can submit you, or he can grind out a hard-fought decision. His next fight is TBA.
7. Michael Bisping
Most Recent Fight: Third-round TKO victory over Jason Miller (Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale)
It seems that Michael Bisping has found a home at middleweight. Since losing by knockout to Dan Henderson at UFC 100, Bisping has gone 5-1, with his lone loss coming by decision against Wanderlei Silva.
At the Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale, Bisping arguably put on the best performance of his career when he beat up Jason Miller over the course of three rounds before the referee stopped the bout.
Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Bisping's stock is on the rise, and a title shot may not be too far away.
6. Brian Stann
Most recent fight: Second-round submission loss to Chael Sonnen (UFC 136)
When Brian Stann decided to make the drop from light heavyweight to middleweight, he won his first two bouts against Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago with relative ease.
But, in his most recent fight, Stann's lack of a ground game was thoroughly exposed by Chael Sonnen, and he was submitted in the second round by a head-and-arm choke.
There is little doubt that Stann will be back with a huge chip on his shoulder, as he will be looking to redeem himself for his poor performance against Sonnen.
Whoever faces Stann should be worried, as he is one of the hardest hitters in the division. His next fight is against the always dangerous TBA.
5. Vitor Belfort
Most recent fight: First-round knockout victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama (UFC 133)
Every time we see Belfort in action, the same question is always asked—"Will we see the old Vitor or new Vitor?"
Since losing to Dan Henderson at Pride 32 in 2006, the Belfort that knocked out people like crazy has been stepping inside the Octagon.
Upon making his return to the UFC in 2009, Belfort has gone 2-1, with his lone loss coming by knockout against reigning UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Anytime Belfort steps inside the Octagon, his opponent is always in danger of being knocked senseless. His next bout will be at UFC 142 against Anthony Johnson, who will be making his middleweight debut.
4. Mark Munoz
Most recent fight: Second-round TKO victory over Chris Leben (UFC 138)
Despite his knockout loss to Matt Hamill, The "Filipino Wrecking Machine" has lived up to his nickname, going 6-1 since suffering a defeat in his debut.
Currently, Munoz is riding a four-fight winning streak, with wins over the likes of Chris Leben and Demian Maia.
Munoz appears one step away from a title shot. That step is Chael Sonnen, and the two will meet up at UFC on FOX 2 on Jan. 28.
3. Yushin Okami
Most recent fight: Second-round TKO loss against Anderson Silva (UFC 134)
Since signing with the UFC in 2006, Okami amassed a record of 12-2 before he finally got a shot at the middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
In the bout against Silva at UFC 134, Okami appeared to put on the worst performance of his career, en route to losing in the second round by TKO.
But it is way too early to write off Okami. At only 30 years of age, Okami still has a lot of fight left in him, and don't be surprised if he makes another run at the title sooner than later.
His next fight is rumored to be against Tim Boetsch at UFC 144.
2. Chael Sonnen
Most recent fight: Second-round submission victory over Brian Stann (UFC 136)
Over the years, Sonnen has proven two things—he is one of the greatest wrestlers ever to compete in mixed martial arts, and his submission defense is absolutely horrible.
Out of his 11 career losses, eight have came by submission, with seven of those coming by triangle choke or armbar.
Yet, despite his lack of submission defense, he is still the second-baddest middleweight on the planet. At UFC 117, he had champion Anderson Silva soundly beat for over 23 minutes before his lack of submission defense reared its ugly head.
Sonnen was suspended following the bout against Silva for elevated levels of testosterone.
He made his return at UFC 136 and put on a wrestling clinic against Brian Stann. After the fight, in typical Sonnen fashion, he called out Silva once again.
It appears he will get a rematch with the champion, but only if he can defeat Mark Munoz at UFC on FOX 2.
1. Anderson Silva
Most recent fight: Second-round TKO victory over Yushin Okami (UFC 134)
It should come to no surprise to anyone who follows MMA that Anderson Silva tops the middleweight rankings.
Since defeating Rich Franklin for the title at UFC 64, Anderson Silva has defended his title a record 10 times, and even made two stops at light heavyweight to run his UFC record to a perfect 14-0.
Never has the UFC seen such a dominant force since Royce Gracie tore through all comers in the UFC's early days. At this point in time, it seems like Silva has cleaned out the middleweight division.
Even though there seems to be a severe lack of legitimate challengers for him to face, it is rumored he will face the winner of the Sonnen vs. Munoz fight at an event TBD.
View all Bleacher Report MMA Rankings for December 2011