UFC Rankings – July 2008

Welcome back to my monthly UFC rankings. These have been on hiatus since March due to time constraints on my part, but they’re back and will be posted monthly after UFC PPV’s take place. They will be colocated between my blog and Inside Fights.

HEAVYWEIGHT

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

NOTES: Noguiera maintains the top spot and will do so until his December fight with Frank Mir…Fabricio Werdum was mysteriously passed over for a title shot in favor of Mir, but he’s the unquestioned number one contender in this depleted division and will likely face the winner of the Nog/Mir fight. The UFC likely doesn’t want two non-English speaking coaches with little to no personality on The Ultimate Fighter, which is why we’re seeing Mir get the slot on that show and the title fight instead of Werdum…Gabriel Gonzaga submitted Justin McCully in the first round of a prelim fight underneath Griffin and Jackson…Brock Lesnar has a chance to move up significantly after his fight with Heath Herring next month…Shane Carwin took the Houston Alexander route into the top ten after displaying scary punching power in his debut.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

1. Forrest Griffin (Champion)
2. Quinton Jackson
3. Lyoto Machida
4. Chuck Liddell
5. Wanderlei Silva
6. Rashad Evans
7. Shogun Rua
8. Thiago Silva
9. Keith Jardine
10. Rameau Sokoudjou

NOTES: After beating Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson in back to back fights, Forrest Griffin is now the king of the best division in the UFC. He will likely defend his belt in December against the winner of the Liddell/Evans fight in September…Rampage only falls one spot due to the close decision loss to Griffin…Lyoto Machida ranks highly, but probably won’t get a title shot in 2008 due to his style. He’s a very tough guy to beat, but he’s also very tough to watch due to his points-based fighting style. He’s going to need at least one dramatic finish in order to get a title shot, but if he does so, it will be very tough for the UFC to continue to overlook him…Chuck Liddell faces Rashad Evans in September, and if he wins he will likely face Forrest Griffin in a huge money match in December…Wanderlei Silva meets Thiago Silva in October and could then fight Rampage for a potential title shot down the line…Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva will make his debut in this division on July 19, and could potentially jump into the top of the rankings with the sort of decisive win he’s known for. Silva will fight in both divisions for the foreseeable future.

MIDDLEWEIGHT

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

NOTES: After running through this division, Anderson Silva is left without any credible opponents. He will likely face Patrick Cote in November, and there’s a potential money fight between he and Bisping if the Brit is able to keep winning his fights, but there’s nothing else available that fans want to see…Rich Franklin will likely leave these rankings after October, as he’s scheduled to face Matt Hamill in his return to the light heavyweight division. The move to the higher weight class is a good one for Franklin, as he’s at the point where he can beat anyone in the middleweight division except Silva, so he’s stuck…Okami is close to a title shot, but probably isn’t quite ready in the eyes of the fans at this point…There’s a good chance that UFC will fold the WEC middleweight division into the company at some point, which could set up a fight between Silva and teammate Paulo Filho. Silva has stated in the past that he does not want to fight a teammate, but has relented as of late due to the lack of challengers in the middleweight division.

WELTERWEIGHT

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

NOTES: Jon Fitch faces St. Pierre in August, and Thiago Alves may get the next shot. Outside of that, St. Pierre has no real competition in the division, which makes it very likely that B.J. Penn will move up and challenge St. Pierre for the welterweight belt in early 2009. That fight could take place in Hawaii in a football stadium…Thiago Alves moves up to a contender’s spot after destroying Matt Hughes in June…Josh Koschek mauled Chris Lytle, but his post-fight talk centered around moving to the lightweight division, which could give that division the type of shot in the arm it needs. For better or worse, Koschek is a guy that fans love to hate and want to see beaten, and he’s going to be a real money draw if he faces Penn for the lightweight title.

LIGHTWEIGHT

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

NOTES: This is another division that is devoid of any real challengers to the champion. The winner of Florian/Huerta will get a shot at Penn at some point down the line, but Penn seems more concerned about vacating the division and facing St. Pierre than he does about sticking around and defending his title. A Josh Koschek fight is a possibility here, but the real money would come from having Urijah Faber move up in weight class and fight Penn. Not only would it be a fantastic fight between two of the top 5 pound for pound fighters in the world, but you’d also have a match between Tyson Griffin and Faber that could follow it. Griffin is the only man to ever beat Faber…Guillard jumps back into the rankings after his decimation of Dennis Siver. Guillard has all the tools needed to be a top fighter in the business, but immaturity has thus far prevented him from being where he wants to be…

POUND FOR POUND

1. Anderson Silva (Middleweight Champion)
2. Georges St. Pierre (Welterweight Champion)
3. B.J. Penn (Lightweight Champion)
4. Forrest Griffin (Light Heavyweight Champion)
5. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera (Heavyweight Champion)
6. Quinton Jackson
7. Chuck Liddell
8. Fabricio Werdum
9. Lyoto Machida
10. Wanderlei Silva

NOTES: Anderson Silva stays on top of these rankings, and could likely cement the position for the foreseeable future if he starts cleaning out the light heavyweight division in addition to the middleweight division that he’s already run through…Forrest Griffin makes a gigantic leap into these rankings after beating Rua and Jackson in successive fights. His next fight will likely be against Chuck Liddell in December. A win in that fight would give him consecutive wins over three of the best light heavyweights in history and would likely move him up another spot in these rankings…Wanderlei Silva moves into the rankings after his brutal mauling of Keith Jardine, a fight that left no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Axe Murderer of old has returned. He’ll face Thiago Silva in a fight with potential championship implications in November.

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