MMA Detour After UFC 112 and Strikeforce: Nashville

This blog is primarily about games now, but I don’t have another place to really post my thoughts after UFC 112 and the fiasco of Strikeforce in Nashville. Between the two events, I think that a lot of rethinking has to go into most top 10 ranking lists I see out there.

First off, Frankie Edgar beating BJ Penn is huge. It wasn’t a stunning victory in and of itself, having gone to a decision, but remember that weeks before the fight everyone was looking past Edgar and talking about BJ going up to welterweight again to make a run for that title as well (assuming someone has wrested it from GSP’s iron grip).
Last night on Strikeforce there were three summary dethronings of ranking favorites in three profoundly underwhelming fights. All three title fights went to a decision – the most exciting fight by far was at the end when the brawl broke out between the entire Caesar Gracie camp and Jason Mayhem Miller.
Aoki, Mousasi and even Dan Henderson each got thoroughly spoiled by their opponents, surprising many if rankings before Saturday are any measure.
Aoki was touted as the number 2 behind BJ Penn in the lightweight division (before Frankie Edgar of course). Mousasi was talked about ceaselessly, fitting into Strikeforce’s apparent plan of having one dominant “name” fighter in each division and then feeding them outmatched opponents. Dan Henderson we all know – he left the UFC as the only man to win a round against Anderson Silva in that organization, and was signed by Strikeforce to be their new juggernaut after Jake Shields makes his essentially inevitable move to greener UFC pastures.
And then Strikeforce: Nashville happened.
Now Aoki is exposed as a fighter who was overwhelmed by Gilbert Melendez on the feet and on the ground. Mousasi’s total lack of takedown defense was finally exploited for another decision defeat.
And, amazingly, Jake Shields kicked Dan Henderson’s ass for four long rounds. He spent so much time in Hendo’s mount that he could probably receive mail there. He lived there like there was a zipcode.
As far as I’m concerned, the stock for these three highly touted fighters plummeted Saturday.
In thinking about these events, I thought I’d try my hand at top 10 rankings of my own. Here goes nothing
Lightweight
1 Frankie Edgar
2 BJ Penn
3 Gray Maynard beat Edgar but I don’t think he could beat BJ
4 Kenny Florian
5 Tyson Griffin
6 Sean Sherk still injured but would handle anyone below this point I think
7 Gilbert Melendez
8 Clay Guida
9 Shinya Aoki
10 George Sotiropoulos I think the sky’s the limit for this guy and he will steadily rise
Welterweight
1 GSP
…again, a wide gap – except for Silva and Daley, his only possible challenges are rematches
2 John Fitch officially is in the “Rich Franklin” position, dominating everyone but the champ
3 Thiago Alves
4 Paulo Thiago
5 Josh Koscheck his explosive striking puts him above Shields, his wrestling puts him above Hardy and Daley
6 Jake Shields I have a feeling his stiff standup might mean a fall on this list, but embarrassing Dan Henderson when you’re a natural welterweight is serious business
7 Dan Hardy
8 Paul Daley
9 Nick Diaz
10 Mike Swick
This lineup has some awesome fights between neighbors: Imagine Diaz vs. Swick, Hardy vs. Daley, Koscheck vs. Shields…holy crap those would be amazing fights
Middleweight
1 Anderson Silva
…this space is reserved for the huge gap between him and all others. I feel like 2 should be blank
2 Chael Sonnen vulerable to submissions so he’ll lose to Silva after he drags him to the ground but what an entertaining Republican
3 Nate Marquardt
4 Vitor Belfort could probably knock Marquardt out, would probably be taken down by him – toss up, but Nate has a much better record
5 Jake Shields <— natural welterweight; take that Dan
6 Dan Henderson beat Franklin, gotta go here
7 Rich Franklin still deserves standing in this division, even now
8 Vanderlei Silva
9 Yoshihiro Akiyama
10 Patrick Cote remember him? Healed and training and coming back soon for another run at the title
Light Heavyweight
1 Lyoto Machida here until he’s defeated, sorry Rua apologists
2 Mauricio Rua
3 Rashad Evans because I think Evans will beat Rampage
4 Rampage Jackson
5 Anotonio Rogerio Nogueria
6 Anderson Silva yes, he’s here too, and on his way up I don’t doubt
7 Thiago Silva
8 Randy Couture
9 Jon Jones
10 Ryan Baeder
Again, amazing fights among neighbors. Jones vs. Baeder, Silva vs. Couture, A. Silva vs. Little Nog…goosebumps just thinking about it
Heavyweight
1 Brock Lesnar
2 Shane Carwin I won’t be surprised if he knocks out Lesnar in the first round and we have a new beast at the top
3 Cain Valasquez
4 Junior Dos Santos is explosive like Fedor, trains with the Noguerias, and unlike Fedor, actually fights the best fighters in the world
5 Fedor Emeliananko nowhere near the top while popping open tomato cans in Strikeforce
6 Frank Mir
7 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria lost to Fedor and Valasquez so here he goes
8 Randy Couture
9 Fabricio Werdum in the tier under Fedor, outside of the UFC
10 Roy Nelson yes, Big Country. I think he’ll prove me right

15 thoughts on “MMA Detour After UFC 112 and Strikeforce: Nashville

  1. Heh. You've clearly paid closer attention than me lately. I couldn't name 10 fighters of every weight class to put on a list like this.

    With Lightweight I'm not sure what to do there. True Edgar beat Penn, but that just makes me wonder about the entire class which I previously though Penn had completely locked up. Is it just a style issue maybe? Did Edgar just have the perfect game plan?

    With Heavyweight I'd be tempted to put Carwin over Lesnar even though Lesnar is the champ. Carwin just seems better to me.

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  2. Admittedly, I used Wikipedia and other top 10 list to job my memory at times.

    Like I said, Carwin beating Lesnar won't surprise me, but he still has to do it to get the bump πŸ™‚

    The only case I'm aware of where someone is below someone who defeated them is in the case of Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar. For me, except in unusual cases, the UFC champ has to be at the top because that's where 95% of the top fighters are in the sport right now.

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  3. Lesnar as the number 1 heavyweight in the world?

    Ridiculous.

    He's had 5 fight total, none of which even involved having to actually climb rankings because the UFC doesn't take rankings into account when setting up matches.

    If he had 5 fights against top and I mean TOP competition. Then maybe, but certainly not the people he's beaten thus far.

    And if you think for even a second that he wouldn't be demolished by Fedor you're delusional.

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  4. The Fedor apologists came out! It's possible you're right and Fedor is awesome, but no one knows because the dude won't face any serious competition and as such he is way way down my list of heavyweights.

    Also watching him – he just doesn't impress. Big slow looping punches, no movement, mediocre wrestling… just not very impressive at all. I think Couture, Mir, Carwin, or Lesnar and maybe others would humiliate him.

    Yeah, Lesnar only has 5 fights, but he beat at least 2 guys who are much better than Fedor in Couture and Mir, so the ranking is justified.

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  5. Hey 'beard.

    Fedor's above Mir as well as Big Nog, and at 5 I think he makes sense. Fedor hasn't fought anyone in the past few years to justify being number one. It's often been proven that when fighters come to the UFC from other promotions, they get handled (Mr. A. Silva being the huge exception). Fedor just doesn't face the kind of competition that he'd face at the top of the UFC heavyweight divison.

    Until he does so, he's right where he belongs in my ranking.

    As for Lesnar – I think he'd circle a bit, then take Fedor down and ride him for as long as it took. Fedor is smaller than Frank Mir and less successful with BJJ. The only threats Fedor would pose to Lesnar would be a freak knockout punch and an armbar from the bottom. The smart money is on the 280lb wrestler who's already beaten two of the best heavyweights in the world in Mir and Couture.

    If the fight ever actually happens, I'll be happy to place a friendly bet with you 'beard πŸ™‚

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  6. Apologists…hah.

    You can't discount the fighters that Fedor has been beating with one hand while holding up the fighters that Lesnar has been beating with the other. Are Min Soo Kim, Frank Mir, and Randy Couture really so much higher ranked fighters than Arlovski, Rogers and Sylvia. So much so, that you can justify calling Arlovski, Rogers and Sylvia tomato cans? Really.

    And wow, Fedor's not impressive? He's a small heavyweight that demolishes fighters 50 pounds heavier than he is. I didn't want to turn this into a Brock vs. Fedor argument. But really? When Brock inevitably takes an opponent down, he goes spastic on them, it turns to craze hammer fists and technique flies out the window, hell even after Mir kneebarred him, he STILL leaves his leg out and exposed, open for a kneebar.

    The big looping punches that Fedor throws, probably don't look all that impressive, as you said. From one point of view, I agree. However, look up “Russian long hooks” or “Russian casting”, it's a Sambo punching technique that's been in practice for years. And it seems to be working pretty well for him.

    In addition, who are the “top fighters” that Dos Santos has been fighting that Fedor hasn't? Both have already fought Mirko Filipovic, (though Fedor did so in his prime), and Fedor is set to face Werdum sometime this summer.

    I would love to make the bet on Fedor vs. Brock, but I think we all know that fight will never happen.

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  7. In case it doesn't communicate well across a blog I am enjoying the argument and feel no animosity at all.

    That said – yeah Fedor is overrated. Couture and Mir both beat Sylvia when he was better than he has been in a long time. Sylvia and Rogers are absolutely “tomato cans” at this stage of their careers. The Arlovski win impressed me more, but Fedor actually looked in trouble against Arlovski and I wouldn't put Arlovski anywhere near Couture or Mir in overall skill.

    I agree that Lesnar is overrated as well. I think Carwin is probably the better fighter and will shortly prove it. I actually think Mir and Couture are both better than Lesnar pound for pound, but Lesnar has a huge size advantage. They need to break Heavyweight into 2 classes at this stage. Guys Fedor/Couture/Mir's size have nowhere to go.

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  8. Same here Aric.

    Though I'll continue to disagree on the overrated and tomato cans comments.

    I've seen all of Fedor's fights and the only time I've ever seen him in trouble was against Fujita, when Fujita had Fedor doing the fish dance courtesy of a wicked left hook. Arlovski was beating him though, his boxing is just that much better.

    And I agree completely on the weight class issue as well. I've been saying for awhile that they need to develop a super heavyweight class. Cut it off at maybe 240 or 245.

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  9. I definitely agree about splitting up the heavyweight division into two divisions.

    And if this wasn't fun I wouldn't do it πŸ™‚

    I agree that I thought Arlovsky had Fedor backing up and looking like he'd met his match until he tried a flying punch for some reason. I also think that beating Frank Mir and Randy Couture counts more than beating Rogers, Arlovsky, Silvia, Choi or Matt Lindland (who also gave Fedor a good showing, even though he is 50 pounds lighter and two weight classes below Fedor).

    No doubt that Fedor is one of the best fighters in the world. In fact, he'd be on my pound-for-pound list and Lesnar would not (because he regularly fights larger guys while Lesnar will never face someone larger than he is). But as a heavyweight, I like where I've put him.

    Valasquez and Dos Santos are also smaller heavyweights who fight larger guys, but I think Valasquez would control Fedor on the ground and Dos Santos would be a match on his feet (his ground being untested in recent fights).

    What I really want to see is Randy vs. Fedor, though. Fedor would be the clear favorite, but so much money has been lost betting against Randy…

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  10. With the way the sport is now, I think with only rare exceptions, the champion of the UFC is the top of a given division. You just can't find the competition anywhere else to test yourself against – you can only be like Fedor and fight guys who the UFC has let go for one reason or another.

    Until Fedor fights the best of the best in the UFC heavyweight division, I can't put him at the top of the list.

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  11. The UFC heavyweight was a joke until a year and a half ago. Even now they're slowly rebuilding and it's getting pretty damn good. That said, I think a lot of people who are newer to MMA just seem to discount anyone who doesn't fight in the UFC.

    And Doug, when Overeem lost to Shogun: 1. It was years ago. 2. It was in a different weight class.
    In using that logic you should drop Randy rankings at heavyweight for his losses to Chuck Liddel at light heavyweight.
    Overeem is a beast. And you;re right, he hasn't fought anyone of note in quite some time. But neither has Roy Nelson, who is admittedly an up and comer.

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  12. I look forward to seeing Overeem fight again in the relatively near future. I'm not sure I'd say I'm new to MMA; in this case, I discount many fighters outside the UFC because when fighters enter the UFC wit high expectations from other promotions, they tend to do poorly. With the big exception of Anderson Silva and the past example of Dan Henderson (who most recently got handled by a welterweight) of course.

    You just can't be the best at anything unless you're put against the best to test yourself. Many fighters outside the UFC have a lot of talent and skill, and might rise to the challenge of the step up in competition – but they still need the step up first.

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