December 12, 2011
Top 10 MMA fighters
By DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency
Want a little hint on how to get MMA fans scrapping? Verbally, I mean.
Well, if you saw a cluster of UFC fans -- they'll be easy to spot in their Affliction or Tapout T-shirts -- sidle up and drop this on them: "So, who's better, Georges St. Pierre or Anderson Silva?"
Then step back and watch the war of words begin. Because nothing gets an MMA fan fired up like a lively debate over which fighter -- pound for pound -- is the best in the game.
To get the conversation started, here's our list of the Top 10 fighters who put the artistry in mixed martial arts today.
10. Jon Fitch (26-3-1)
This slot in the top 10 could have been filled by Gilbert Melendez, giving Strikeforce a token representation, but in the end Fitch came in at No. 10. He's coming off a draw with B.J. Penn at UFC 127 so the optics might not be great, but if you dig deeper you'll see that the only man to beat him in almost 10 years is Georges St. Pierre, who got the decision at UFC 87. And where is GSP ranked? 'Nuff said.
9. Junior dos Santos (14-1)
After the way dos Santos dismantled Cain Velasquez to win the heavyweight crown, many have bumped him up in the pound-for-pound rankings. For me, it's still way too soon to be showering the 27-year-old Brazilian in accolades. I just don't think the heavyweight division is as deep as some of the others. The belt has changed hands six times in three years. That's more a sign of parity than depth.
8. Dan Henderson (29-8)
It wasn't that long ago that Hendo appeared on the downward slide. He lost back-to-back fights to Quinton Jackson and Anderson Silva before bouncing back with a decision win over Rousimar Palhares (yeah, I know, who?) at UFC 88. But after a four-fight stay with Strikeforce that ended with a TKO win over Fedor Emelianenko, and a decision over Mauricio Rua at UFC 139, Henderson is back among the best.
7. Dominick Cruz (19-1)
Like many of the others in this top 10, Cruz has just one blemish on his record, a submission loss to Urijah Faber nearly five years ago. Since then he's strung together 10 consecutive wins, including a decision over Faber last July, and taken the bantamweight belt -- he won it in the WEC before the merger with the UFC -- by stopping Brian Bowles. If Cruz finished more, he might be ranked higher.
6. Frankie Edgar (14-1-1)
Another fighter I'm not a big fan of -- it was a great fight but I happen to think he got lucky with the draw against Gray Maynard at UFC 125 -- but I'll still give him his props. The UFC lightweight title holder has beaten everyone he has faced not named Gray Maynard, including B.J. Penn (twice). And it's tough to question his heart when he steps into the octagon.
5. Nick Diaz (27-7-1)
Diaz is one of those love-him-or-hate-him kind of guys. Lately, he has been feeling plenty of hate for bad-mouthing Canada's beloved GSP. Another fighter with a double-digit win streak (11) going back to his Strikeforce, Dream and EliteXC days, Diaz could drop down a peg or two when he finally does face St. Pierre. Or not. Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait for that superfight.
4. Jose Aldo (20-1)
Since Aldo has done most of his recent work in the WEC, he might not be as familiar a name to casual fans. But the UFC featherweight champ is riding a 13-fight winning streak, including three title defences in a row. And you might remember the five-round war with Mark Hominick at UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre that left the Canuck with a baseball-sized lump on his forehead.
3. Jon Jones (15-1)
Jones, the UFC's light heavyweight champ, is well on his way to MMA superstardom. No other fighter in MMA has the diverse -- and, let's face it, unpredictable -- skill set of Jones. He's a freak, you know, in the good way. Jones has been dominant over the past two years and, at 24 years old, he's only going to get better. Won't be long before he takes over the No. 1 spot.
2. Anderson Silva (29-4)
Silva is considered by some, including UFC president Dana White, to be the best fighter in the history of MMA. It's hard to argue. But I will. Yes, I know the middleweight champion hasn't lost since 2006 (a 15-win streak), virtually an eternity in the sport, but Chael Sonnen came close to pulling off the upset last year. And I still can't get over that bizarre strategy against Demian Maia at UFC 112.
1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2)
Listen, I'm not a big fan of GSP's technical, tactical approach to his fights. Yes, it might be as boring as a European art film to watch but St. Pierre has been the UFC's welterweight belt-holder since 2007 for a reason -- he's damn good at what he does. There are plenty of other fighters who are flashier but St. Pierre gets the job done and, to quote a brawler from another, ahem, combat sport, "that's the bottom line."