UFC

UFC Rankings: September 2008

Some very minor movement this month, but it’s the calm before the storm as The Natural returns to the heavyweight division for a superfight and a heavyweight title grand prix is booked.

These rankings are based on a plethora of factors: win-loss record, method of victory, competition the fighter is facing, and the push given to them by the UFC matchmakers. They are wholly my opinion and should be treated as such.

For the complete archive of my fighter rankings, go here. These rankings are also published at InsideFights.com and on my Houston Chronicle UFC blog.

HEAVYWEIGHT (206-265)

1. Randy Couture (Champion)
2. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Interim Champion)
3. Fabricio Werdum
4. Frank Mir
5. Gabriel Gonzaga
6. Brock Lesnar
7. Cain Velasquez
8. Cheick Kongo
9. Shane Carwin
10. Heath Herring

NOTES: Randy Couture’s return to the company puts him back on top of the rankings, despite his last fight being over a year ago. Noguiera’s last fight will have been nearly one year when he finally defends against Frank Mir in December, so Couture isn’t penalized for the layoff. The landscape of the entire top half of the heavyweight division could look drastically different by January 2009, as Couture will defend his heavyweight belt against Brock Lesnar in November and Noguiera defends the interim title against Frank Mir in December. The winners of those two bouts will face off in either March or April to determine the undisputed champion…Gabriel Gonzaga is also fighting in November and could position himself favorably with a win…Fabricio Werdum is the fighter most overlooked with Couture’s return, as both Lesnar and Mir jump over him to challenge for title belts. Werdum is not marketable right now, and thus will suffer from the same fate as Lyoto Machida. He will likely get a shot at whomever the eventual champion is after the unfication bout takes place in mid-2009.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT(186-205)

1. Forrest Griffin (Champion)
2. Quinton Jackson
3. Lyoto Machida
4. Rashad Evans
5. Anderson Silva
6. Wanderlei Silva
7. Chuck Liddell
8. Rich Franklin
9. Mauricio Shogun Rua
10. Thiago Silva

NOTES: Rashad Evans moves into 4th place after his dramatic KO win over Chuck Liddell at UFC 88.  Evans will face Forrest Griffin in December for the light heavyweight title. In my rankings, Evans still lags behind Jackson and Machida, but he has definitely become a top contender in a stacked division…Rich Franklin debuts at #8 after a dominating win over Matt Hamill.

MIDDLEWEIGHT (171-185)

1. Anderson Silva (Champion)
2. Dan Henderson
3. Yushin Okami
4. Nate Marquardt
5. Patrick Cote
6. Michael Bisping
7. Damien Maia
8. Jason MacDonald
9. Martin Kampmann
10 Thales Leites

NOTES: Dan Henderson moves back into the #2 slot with his brilliantly executed win over Rousimar Palhares….Nate Marquardt dominated Martin Kampmann and moves back into title contention.

WELTERWEIGHT (156-170)

1. Georges St. Pierre (Champion)
2. BJ Penn
3. Jon Fitch
4. Thiago Alves
5. Matt Serra
6. Matt Hughes
7. Diego Sanchez
8. Karo Parisyan
9. Mike Swick
10. Marcus Davis

NOTES: There will be no movement atop these rankings until at least February 2009, when BJ Penn challenges St. Pierre for the title in a champion vs. champion match. Prospective challengers have approximately 7-8 months to position themselves for a shot at the winner of that fight. Thiago Alves will likely earn the next shot after Penn if he defeats Diego Sanchez at UFC 90… Outside of Penn and perhaps Alves, this division is devoid of people who can legitimately challenge a focused and prepared Georges St. Pierre.

LIGHTWEIGHT (146-155)

1. B.J. Penn (Champion)
2. Kenny Florian
3. Sean Sherk
4. Tyson Griffin
5. Roger Huerta
6. Joe Stevenson
7. Frankie Edgar
8. Clay Guida
9. Nate Diaz
10. Melvin Guillard

NOTES: The top of this division will remain stagnant as well. Kenny Florian will face Joe Stevenson in November, and a win would virtually guarantee him a shot at Penn’s title. Florian likes to remain active, however, and he could choose to fight one more time while waiting for Penn to finish with his welterweight title challenge…Sean Sherk will face Tyson Griffin in October on the undercard of UFC 90.

POUND FOR POUND

1. Anderson Silva (Middleweight Champion)
2. Georges St. Pierre (Welterweight Champion)
3. BJ Penn (Lightweight Champion)
4. Forrest Griffin (Light Heavyweight Champion)
5. Randy Couture (Heavyweight Champion)
6. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Interim Heavyweight Champion)
7. Quinton Jackson
8. Fabricio Werdum
9. Lyoto Machida
10. Kenny Florian

NOTES: Randy Couture returns to the pound for pound rankings. There could be some very drastic changes in this lineup over the next six months, as Silva will defend his belt against Cote, Penn and St. Pierre will fight in a champion vs. champion superfight, Couture defends against Lesnar and Noguiera defends against Mir, and Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell will face off for the light heavyweight title….Chuck Liddell drops out of the pound for pound rankings after his loss to Evans…Kenny Florian moves into the 10th position.

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