Top 10 Pound for Pound MMA Fighters in the World 4/29/10

It has been some time since I released a top 10 pound-for-pound list, with my last edition coming all the way back in August of last year. There have been some changes and the bottom of the list was tough to determine, but I feel pretty good about this group. I am basing this list over the past few years and using this criteria to make my choices: Quality of wins (i.e. stoppages), Quality of opponents, Amount of damage taken in fights, and Establishment of all-around skills in the cage. Now that the criteria has been addressed, here we go.

1. Anderson Silva – 26-4 – UFC Middleweight Champion: Silva’s last fight was embarrassing for the UFC, but it again displayed how dominant he is. He literally took two rounds off and still won a unanimous decision and in the three rounds he tried, he landed every shot he threw while dodging every shot Demian Maia threw at him. When he gets challenged, Silva quickly runs through his opponents, like Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin. When guys don’t come at him, like Patrick Cote and Thales Leites, the fights are unwatchable. Bottom line, it is hard to see someone beating this guy and I still think he could step up to heavyweight someday and give Brock Lesnar a run for his money.

2. Georges St. Pierre – 20-2 – UFC Welterweight Champion: GSP hasn’t been challenged since facing Josh Koscheck at UFC 74. The champion has cruised through his opponents and the only complaint against him has been his inability to finish recent opponents. Still, stopping B.J. Penn and dominating Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch, and Dan Hardy is pretty impressive and a potential fight with Koscheck again or slugger Paul Daley or even Jake Shields keeps things exciting with GSP.

3. Fedor Emelianenko – 31-1 – WAMMA Heavyweight Champion: You can certainly argue Fedor is the top P4P fighter in the world as he hasn’t lost since 2000 and he has finished his last eight opponents, but the need to see him in the octagon and against some of these newer, fresher faces in the UFC Heavyweight division keep me from putting him on top. Yes, he is the most dominant heavyweight of all time, but Matt Hughes was once the most dominant welterweight of all time, then he ran into the new crop of fighters and things went south quickly. Lesnar, Carwin, and Velasquez are all fights I would like to see Fedor in today to see just where he stacks up.

4. Jose Aldo – 17-1 – WEC Featherweight Champion – Aldo has been on my radar for a while but with the win over Urijah Faber last weekend and the fashion in which it came leads me to believe that this guy is among the best in the world. His explosive striking has allowed him to tear through his last seven opponents. We haven’t even seen his jiu-jitsu, but he is a black belt there under the Nogueiras. It is hard to see anyone taking Aldo out at 145, but as we have seen, there is always a bad matchup for every fighter.

5. Lyoto Machida – 16-0 – UFC Light Heavyweight Champion: Machida is unbeaten in his career and until his most recent fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, he was nearly untouched in his UFC career. Machida has lacked finishing ability until the last year and a half, but he showed that he could be beaten when he fought Shogun. Consequently, that could have been Machida at his worst and Shogun at his best, and Machida still found a way to get the victory.

6. Jake Shields – 25-4-1 – Strikeforce Middleweight Champion: Shields deserves credit for his win over Dan Henderson. He is fighting up in weight and still dominated four-of-five rounds against him. Shields hasn’t lost since 2004, but he still had trouble with his stand up against Henderson and Paul Daley while also struggling at times on the ground with Jason Miller. You have to give credit where it is due, but Shields appears to have an obvious weakness that could cause problems with his venture into the UFC, if that all plays out.

7. Brock Lesnar – 4-1 – UFC Heavyweight Champion: Lesnar doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he has dominated top heavyweights Frank Mir and Randy Couture. The question still remains if Lesnar can beat the young bucks in the division, but that will be answered in his upcoming fight with Shane Carwin. Lesnar is explosive and powerful which gives him the complete package. Lesnar is going to be tough to get to the ground for submission fighters and his hand speed and size will be tough for a striker to deal with as well.

8. Cain Velasquez – 8-0 – UFC Heavyweight Contender: Velasquez has rolled through everyone in his short MMA career, including an impressive knockout of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. An All-American wrestler in college, Velasquez has developed into a powerful striker. His all-around ability will give anyone in the division problems, including Lesnar or Carwin. Velasquez could very likely be the UFC champion a year from now.

9. Shane Carwin – 12-0 – UFC Heavyweight Contender: I struggled with the decision on Carwin because we have yet to see him pushed passed the first round, but that is what ultimately earned him a spot on this list. Carwin has exploded on each of his UFC opponents, including Mir last month. Carwin is a big, burly guy that will be tough to takedown, and his explosive hands make him dangerous on his feet. We saw that he could take a punch against Gabriel Gonzaga, now we see he can man handle a superior grappler like Mir. With Lesnar awaiting him, that fight will likely be about which fighter can land the first clean punch.

10. B.J. Penn – 15-6-1 – UFC Lightweight Contender: Sure Penn just lost his last fight, but it was an off night for Penn while Frankie Edgar fought the perfect fight and still barely won. Penn will get his rematch and then Edgar’s talents will truly be revealed. It is always tougher to beat someone twice. Penn knows how important beating Edgar will be and he should come out with more urgency and explosion. Penn still has the best combination of striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu in the lightweight division. His ability to finish guys like Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, and Diego Sanchez still puts Penn on my top 10 P4P.

Honorable Mention: Rashad Evans (UFC Light Heavyweight), Vitor Belfort (UFC Middleweight), Thiago Alves (UFC Welterweight), Frankie Edgar (UFC Lightweight Champion), Kenny Florian (UFC Lightweight), Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce Lightweight Champion), Dominick Cruz (WEC Bantamweight Champion), Jon Fitch (UFC Welterweight), Junior dos Santos (UFC Heavyweight).

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