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(photo courtesy of George St. Pierre (left) top Gene's list as the top MMA fighter with his superb fighting record.

(photo courtesy of George St. Pierre (left) top Gene's list as the top MMA fighter with his superb fighting record.

Gene Mitchell

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(photo courtesy of George St. Pierre (left) top Gene's list as the top MMA fighter with his superb fighting record.

MMA who the pound-for- pound fighter in the world is and debate over who claims the top spot becomes immediate. The group begins to squabble over which weight class holds more competition and which title holder seems impossible to defeat.

After Mauricio Rua’s devastating loss to Jon Jones last week, the top 10 spots for best fighter in the world took an entirely different look. I take it upon myself to give our school its first top 10 listing for pound-for-pound best MMA fighters in the world.  Before reading the list, readers, understand I do not base my choices from some arbitrary formula to give them scientific proof, nor did the picks’ fighting record determine their placement. Although I mention their records, most of the evidence given comes from who I actually think would win if every fighter fought at the same weight. With that in mind let’s start the list:

10.  Mauricio Rua (19-5)
Even though Rua lost in devastating fashion last week, that does not mean his “ability” has fallen.  Jones no doubt proved himself as a competent fighter but Rua still poses a serious threat to any opponent.  Until last week Rua had never been stopped via strikes and only lost one other time by submission. One could even argue that he was robbed out of a decision against Lyoto Machida. Combine that with that fact that Rua only wins by stoppage except for one other time in his career, he without question deserves to stay in the pound-for-pound spotlight.

9.  Alistair Overheem (10-4)
Overheem gets little respect, for whatever reason, from the MMA world. The only plausible reason I see comes from the fact he fights in Strikeforce, home of Fedor Emelianenko.  Emelianenko has regards as greatest fighter of all time, despite holding the belt, and that clouds Overheem’s amazing knockout power and brute strength and size. Few can doubt Overheem would put Emelianenko in serious trouble if the two fought.  For this list, though, the Strikeforce brand weighs heavy on Overheem as he faces little real opposition.

8.  Gray Maynard (10-0-1)
Maynard may, more than ever, be at the top of his game with his third installment against Frankie Edgar coming up. The split-decision draw coming in his last bout against Edgar infuriated him, so much so that Maynard probably sleeps in the gym.  No doubt the “Bully” stands atop the lightweight division in the UFC and, rightly so, has a claim at the lofty belt.

7.  Dominick Cruz (16-1)
No one can deny Dominick Cruz has defined the Bantamweight Championship with his past seven victories over serious competition in both the WEC and UFC. The only thing that stands in his way is the only blemish on his record:  Urijiah Faber. If Cruz can reclaim that loss in dominating fashion many could argue Cruz has a shot at the pound-for-pound title. I am still pessimistic of that until he can move up in weight and fight someone stronger than him.

6.  Frankie Edgar (13-1-1)
Edgar would have a stronger case had it not been for his two mishandlings of our number eight seat. Despite dominating B.J. Penn twice (who I think would destroy Maynard) Edgar had no “answer” for Maynard. Edgar will need to put a good showing against Maynard on the trilogy to maintain his spot on this list. Only his future reign as champion will move him forward.

5.  Cain Velasquez (9-0)
First off, the man is undefeated in one of the toughest divisions in the world of MMA.  When you have Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Congo, Carwin and many other top-notch monsters, the fact that Velasquez stands tall over them with an incredible undefeated record speaks volumes to how great a fighter he is.  His next fight very well could be a rematch between the only man who may stand a chance to defeat him: the winner of the Ultimate Fighter Coaches Lesnar and Dos Santos.

4.  Jose Aldo (17-1)
From this point any of these men have a top-ranked position on someone’s top 10 lists.  Most would disagree with the decision to put Aldo third. I feel he needs to move up from his weight class and establish himself as a fighter who can transcend the lower weight classes. The smaller weight classes get too much credit as their weight does not make an impact as much as the higher ones do. That said, Aldo dominates any and all comers and does not look to slow down.

3.  Jon Jones (13-1)
The only reason Jones has a loss on his record comes from the fact he beat up Matt Hamill too fast and got himself disqualified for a ridiculous rule. Without that Jones would hold the most coveted title in the UFC without a single loss.  He dominates and amazingly does not seem to have any serious competition despite the stacked light heavyweight division. The great question now becomes how much money it will take for Anderson Silva to step into the octagon with him.

2.  Anderson Silva (28-4)
The most controversial thing about the last two spots arises from the fact that theoretically the two men could fight.  Their weight classes are close enough to where arrangements could be made. Unfortunately the longer time goes that reality seems less and less. The main reason I put Silva second is the same reason I put Pierre at number one: I do not think he can defeat Pierre. As amazing as he is, Silva will always be susceptible to takedowns and ground and pound. Pierre defeats him with the best shot in MMA.

1.   Georges St. Pierre (21-2)
The most important aspect of fighting is winning. No one knows how to win better than Pierre. He does not always finish fights and he certainly does not always win decisively. What remains constant is his ability to win. He has reclaimed his honor from his only two losses and they were in deciding fashion. Even fights that were close (Penn) he redeemed them as well with deciding victories.  No one can stop his takedowns, and no one seems to match his stand-up game either. The only thing that puts this placement in danger, of course, is his next opponent, but what kind of pound-for-pound fighter would Pierre be if he lost to the likes Jake Shields?

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  1. J. Andrew Lockwood on March 31st, 2011 2:53 am

    Was Silva victorious in the rematches against the opponents he lost to?

    Certainly a St. Pierre/Silva match would be incredible.

  2. Gene Mitchell on April 26th, 2011 3:05 am

    Oddly enough, Andrew, Silva will only have faced two opponents more than once professionally after UFC 134. The first is Rich Franklin, a man he knocked out twice, and Yushin Okami on UFC 134. Okami actually holds a win over Silva but it was by disqualification. Okami took Silva down and Silva delivered an upkick from the ground that knocked Okami unconscious. So this fight will “really” be a first time match between the two men. I think the reason why so many believe Silva is the pound for pound is because no one sees anyone defeating him while Pierre seems beatable..but is never defeated. the “awesome” factor that Silva has Pierre lacks. However, I think a true testament for both men would be them both moving up in weight and facing equalizing opponents. Pierre is strong in the welterweight division but the likes of Marquardt, Sonnen, and many other great wrestlers in the middleweight division would equalize him. Likewise Silva is quick and powerful but serious competition in the Light-Heavyweight division would give him a better measure of how “great” he truly is. I just can not imagine him looking “that fast” or “that powerful” if he were up against Machida, Jackson, Jones, or Rua. I actually think he would get crushed against all of those men except one. That is why he does not make the move to a heavier weight.

  3. Rooshi Patel on March 31st, 2011 3:35 pm

    I like the list, but to say that Jon Jones only loss was ridiculous is a mistake. 12-6 elbows are dangerous especially when your opponent is on the ground and Jon Jones fully deserved that disqualification, he was winning the fight there was no need for excessive 12-6 elbows.

  4. Gene Mitchell on April 26th, 2011 2:54 am

    Rooshi he didn’t loose because of 12-6 elbows. He lost because he knocked Matt Hamill out and as Hamill was going down Jones struck him with a knee right after Hamill’s kneed went to the ground. The transition was so fast that Jones could not have possibly stopped himself. The rule is ridiculous because fighters use the rule of a hand of knee on the ground that protects from knees to the head as an advantage. Rules are not meant to give someone an advantage (especially wrestlers) they are meant to keep fights fair. While I agree with your statement vertical elbows are dangerous the sport itself thrives on diverse ways of putting your opponent in danger. While groin shots and eye gouges seem obvious things to ban I think kneeing your opponent while they are prone, head stomps, etc should also go out the window for the severity of possible injury. Vertical elbows only produce more cuts and nothing vital to survival. so with that I disagree with you.

  5. Rooshi Patel on April 26th, 2011 3:51 am

    I think you are mistaken, Jon Jones was disqualified for 12-6 elbows, click on illegal elbows under his name on the left. Jon Jones knows the rules, and he really had no need to do that, had he just kept striking I really believe he would have gotten a stoppage and the win. Jon Jones had him, but the man has been great ever since.

  6. Gene Mitchell on April 27th, 2011 9:33 pm

    I stand corrected. It was a 12-6 elbow. I thought you were referring to the Vera fight where Jones ended the fight with an elbow. Either way, Jones has, in my opinion, a ridiculous loss as a strike is a strike…targets are far more important than anything. it is dangerous to get hit in the head, period. Not allowing 12-6 elbows seems, to me, the same as not allowing spinning backfists or spinning round kicks. obviously, the more motion you put into a strike the more force it is going to have. Let fighters fight. The safest rule about mma is you are allowed to demonstrate your opponent can’t continue by attacking him on the ground. the fights are stopped quicker. People should quit worrying about elbows, when knees are allowed, and when does a fighter have to shave.

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