Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Sherdog MMA rankings as of 12/21/2011
1. Junior dos Santos (14-1)
Despite suffering a serious knee injury only 11 days prior, dos Santos did on Nov. 12 what no heavyweight before him could: stop Cain Velasquez. Now perched atop the ranks as the MMA world’s best big man, “Cigano” may undergo surgery before defending his UFC title against the winner of Dec. 30’s Brock Lesnar-Alistair Overeem clash.
2. Cain Velasquez (9-1)
American Kickboxing Academy’s star heavyweight suffered the first loss of his career in brutal fashion on Nov. 12, succumbing to punches in 64 seconds and dropping his UFC heavyweight title to Junior dos Santos. It’s now back to the drawing board for Velasquez, who will need to rehab a sprained knee before returning to action.
3. Alistair Overeem (35-11, 1 NC)
The main event of UFC 141 nearly hit a snag due to apparent miscommunication between Overeem and the Nevada State Athletic Commission over the state’s drug testing standards. However, on Dec. 13, the NSAC issued Overeem a conditional license to fight, keeping the 2010 K-1 World Grand Prix champion on track for the biggest fight of his career, a Dec. 30 meeting with ex-UFC champ Brock Lesnar.
4. Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1)
In June 2010, Werdum shocked the world by becoming the first man to submit heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko. One year later, the Brazilian turned in a universally panned performance against Alistair Overeem. On Feb. 4, the 34-year-old will have a chance to show which one was the true “Vai Cavalo” when he faces hard-hitting vet Roy Nelson at UFC 143.
5. Brock Lesnar (5-2)
Sidelined for 14 months due to another bout with diverticulitis, Lesnar will move right back into the swing of things for his December return. The former UFC champ will try to snap the 11-fight unbeaten streak of ex-Strikeforce titleholder Alistair Overeem at UFC 141, with the winner guaranteed a shot at newly crowned divisional king Junior dos Santos.
6. Shane Carwin (12-2)
Faced with the first two-fight skid of his career after suffering losses to Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos, Carwin was expected to compete at UFC 141 in December. However, the Grudge Training Center product was dealt yet another injury setback in October and will instead undergo back surgery with eyes on a mid-2012 return.
7. Frank Mir (16-5)
Mir can now lay claim as the first man to both knock out and submit Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The impressive and brutal submission came in their Dec. 10 rematch, when Mir snapped the Brazilian great’s right arm with a first-round kimura
8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-7-1, 1 NC)
Long regarded as one of MMA’s finest heavyweight grapplers, Nogueira suffered his first submission loss in more than 40 bouts on Dec. 10 when he had his right arm snapped by a Frank Mir kimura. The 35-year-old will undergo therapy, not surgery, on the broken limb and is expected to resume training in mid-2012.
9. Josh Barnett (31-5)
The sport’s preeminent catch-wrestling stylist added another major name to his resume on Sept. 10, handing fellow Pride veteran Sergei Kharitonov a first-round submission loss and advancing to the final of Strikeforce’s world heavyweight grand prix. Awaiting the “Warmaster” in the to-be-scheduled last round is unbeaten upstart and freestyle wrestling convert Daniel Cormier.
10. Daniel Cormier (9-0)
The two-time wrestling Olympian secured the biggest win of his short fighting career on Sept. 10, as he knocked out massive Brazilian Antonio Silva in the semifinals of Strikeforce’s world heavyweight grand prix. Less than two years into his MMA career, Cormier will now have the chance to tangle with all-time heavyweight great Josh Barnett in the tournament final, though the American Kickboxing Academy product’s broken hand may delay that bout.
Other contenders: Fedor Emelianenko, Cole Konrad, Roy Nelson, Brendan Schaub, Antonio Silva.
1. Jon Jones (15-1)
The UFC’s youngest champion was given his stiffest test to date on Dec. 10, but in the end, Lyoto Machida suffered the same fate as those who came before. “Bones” capped a monster year by choking out the Brazilian with a second-round guillotine and will now take a much-deserved hiatus before defending his title again in 2012.
2. Dan Henderson (29-8)
In spite of a scary fifth round, Henderson emerged from his UFC 139 main event against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on Nov. 19 with a hard-earned unanimous nod. The win capped a banner 2011 for the 41-year-old which also included knockout victories over Fedor Emelianenko and Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, and placed “Hendo” on the precipice of a UFC title shot.
3. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-6)
The former UFC titleholder fought back valiantly, but Rua could not overcome the deficit created by ex-Strikeforce champ Dan Henderson through the first three stanzas of their Nov. 19 encounter. The Brazilian came up on the short end of a brutal, 25-minute decision against Hendo and has now lost two of three since taking the title from Lyoto Machida in May 2010.
4. Rashad Evans (16-1-1)
Evans didn’t miss a beat upon returning from a 14-month hiatus. After snuffing out Tito Ortiz in August, the ex-UFC champ will attempt to affirm his status as top contender in the 205-pound division on Jan. 28, when he takes part in a long-awaited matchup against fellow collegiate wrestling standout Phil Davis.
5. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-9)
Jackson was halted for the first time since 2005 and submitted for only the second time in his career on Sept. 24 when he ran up against red-hot champion Jon Jones at UFC 135. The loss stopped a two-fight win streak and moved the Memphis native’s Octagon mark to 7-3.
6. Lyoto Machida (17-3)
Things were looking up for Machida in his Dec. 10 title confrontation with Jon Jones. The Brazilian karateka’s unorthodox style was proving an apt foil to the young champ until a second-round guillotine detached Machida from consciousness and dashed his hopes of once again holding the UFC light heavyweight title.
7. Phil Davis (9-0)
Finally healed from the knee injury which derailed his 2011 campaign, Davis will be right back in the thick of things upon his return. The former Penn State Nittany Lion will face the man he was supposed to fight in August, Rashad Evans, on Jan. 28 in what could prove to be a No. 1 contender’s bout.
8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5)
“Little Nog” rebounded from the first back-to-back losses of his career in impressive fashion on Dec. 10, demolishing Tito Ortiz with first-round body blows at UFC 140. The next step is currently unknown for Nogueira, who now stands at 3-2 inside the Octagon.
9. Forrest Griffin (18-7)
After losing his UFC light heavyweight title in 2008 and being embarrassed by Anderson Silva in 2009, Griffin strung together back-to-back victories over Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin. That streak came to an abrupt halt on Aug. 27, however, when the man Griffin shockingly submitted in 2007, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, took revenge in the form of a first-round knockout at UFC 134.
10. Rafael Cavalcante (11-3)
Six months after dropping his Strikeforce light heavyweight title to Dan Henderson, “Feijao” returned to his violent ways on Sept. 10. After a strangely tepid opening round, Cavalcante exploded on Yoel Romero Palacio, punching out the Olympic freestyle silver medalist in their Strikeforce showdown.
Other contenders: Rich Franklin, Alexander Gustafsson, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Vladimir Matyushenko, Gegard Mousasi.
1. Anderson Silva (31-4)
The world’s best pound-for-pound fighter left little doubt as to who rules the 185-pound ranks with a flawless August performance against Yushin Okami in Rio de Janeiro. All signs now point to a championship rematch with Chael Sonnen in the first quarter of 2012, once “The Spider” rehabs a sore shoulder.
2. Chael Sonnen (26-11-1)
Although all signs pointed toward a rematch with Anderson Silva after Sonnen’s October submission of Brian Stann, the controversial middleweight from Oregon still has one more hurdle to clear. On Jan. 28 in Chicago, Sonnen will meet powerful wrestler Mark Munoz to determine the No. 1 contender to Silva’s title.
3. Yushin Okami (26-6)
Japan’s top MMA export fell well short in his long-awaited August rematch with UFC champ Anderson Silva, succumbing to punches for the first time since 2003. While he had to play visitor to Silva in Rio de Janeiro, Okami will hold home field advantage when he attempts to get back on track against Tim Boetsch at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan.
4. Mark Munoz (11-2)
The former Oklahoma State wrestler notched the biggest win of his career on Nov. 5, stopping Chris Leben between the second and third rounds of their UFC 138 main event. The “Filipino Wrecking Machine” now stands on the cusp of title contention and can firm up his status as No. 1 contender with a win over Chael Sonnen on Jan. 28 in Chicago.
5. Nate Marquardt (31-10-2)
After a testosterone replacement therapy debacle caused Marquardt’s June ouster from the UFC, the Greg Jackson student inked a contract with the London-based British Association of Mixed Martial Arts. Now, Marquardt has his first opponent, fellow UFC vet Yoshiyuki Yoshida, against whom he’ll vie for the vacant BAMMA welterweight title on Feb. 11.
6. Demian Maia (15-3)
After coming up short in a tough fight against Mark Munoz, Maia got back on track with an October decisioning of Jorge Santiago. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt will look to creep back into title contention on Jan. 28, when he’ll face Michael Bisping at UFC on Fox 2.
7. Brian Stann (11-4)
Stann had no answer for the ground attack of Chael Sonnen at UFC 136, submitting to the former title contender in the second frame. The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak which saw Stann polish off Chris Leben, Jorge Santiago and Mike Massenzio.
8. Michael Bisping (22-3)
Things weren’t looking up for “The Count” in the first round of his Dec. 3 encounter with rival “TUF 14” coach Jason Miller, but Bisping took the driver’s seat from there, thumping an exhausted “Mayhem” with knees and punches to a third-round stoppage. Bisping will waste no time in returning to the cage: On Jan. 28, he’ll meet former title contender Demian Maia at UFC on Fox 2 in Chicago.
9. Vitor Belfort (20-9)
Belfort rebounded from a crushing loss to Anderson Silva by punching out Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama in August. The “Phenom” is already filling up his dance card for 2012: After his Jan. 14 collision with Anthony Johnson in Rio de Janeiro, Belfort will coach opposite Wanderlei Silva on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” before rematching “The Axe Murderer” in June.
10. Luke Rockhold (8-1)
Rockhold bounded from Strikeforce challenger to 185-pound champ in September, pushing his perfect promotional record to 7-0 with a five-round decision win over Brazilian grappler Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. His first defense will come on Jan. 7 when he faces UFC vet Keith Jardine in Las Vegas.
Other contenders: Tim Kennedy, Hector Lombard, Rousimar Palhares, Jorge Santiago, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2)
The welterweight division’s French Canadian king managed only one Octagon appearance in 2011, a five-round decision win over Jake Shields in April. Having recently undergone knee surgery, GSP will sit on the shelf well into 2012, when he’ll ostensibly unify his UFC championship with the winner of Feb. 4’s Nick Diaz-Carlos Condit interim title bout.
2. Jon Fitch (23-3-1, 1 NC)
Following shoulder surgery, Fitch is ready to return to the Octagon. The perennial welterweight second banana was vocal in his desire to compete in his adopted backyard of San Jose, Calif., but will instead tangle with two-time NCAA wrestling champion Johny Hendricks in Las Vegas on Dec. 30.
3. Nick Diaz (25-7, 1 NC)
It’s been an up-and-down year for Stockton, Calif.’s Diaz, who has seen two chances to fight divisional ruler Georges St. Pierre slip away. With GSP on the sideline for six to nine months, Diaz will attempt to capture the UFC interim welterweight title against Carlos Condit at UFC 143 on Feb. 4.
4. Josh Koscheck (16-5)
A short-notice booking yielded big-time gains in September when Koscheck stepped in for Diego Sanchez and punched out former champ Matt Hughes. Originally booked against Carlos Condit on Feb. 4, the American Kickboxing Academy standout will instead meet Mike Pierce in Las Vegas at UFC 143.
5. Jake Ellenberger (26-5)
Ellenberger looked to be on the fast track to title contention after his 53-second demolition of Jake Shields in September, but the ongoing St. Pierre-Diaz-Condit shuffle has impeded the Nebraskan’s progress. In the meantime, he’ll tangle with perennial contender Diego Sanchez in the main event of the UFC’s Fuel debut on Feb. 15.
6. Jake Shields (26-6-1)
On Sept. 17, Shields was knocked out for the first time in more than 10 years by Jake Ellenberger. Now, Shields will return to Japan, where he initially broke out in the Shooto ranks almost a decade ago, as the Cesar Gracie disciple will take on Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144.
7. Carlos Condit (27-5)
Condit fell into a title shot in October and then lost it just as quickly when champ Georges St. Pierre suffered a knee injury. The “Natural Born Killer” can cement his status on Feb. 4 at UFC 143, where he’ll take on former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz for the UFC’s interim 170-pound belt and the right to face the returning GSP.
8. Johny Hendricks (11-1)
On Aug. 6, Hendricks showed off improved boxing and clinch work to earn a hard-fought split decision win over an equally tough Mike Pierce. The two-time NCAA wrestling champion will have a chance to move even higher up in the 170-pound rankings on Dec. 30 when he meets perennial contender Jon Fitch.
9. Martin Kampmann (18-5)
After suffering narrow defeats against Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez, “The Hitman” finally got a decision to fall his way on Nov. 19 when he took a split not over tough wrestler Rick Story. Kampmann will again have his hands full on March 3 when he meets fellow striker Thiago Alves at UFC on FX 2 in Sydney.
10. B.J. Penn (16-8-2)
Penn had no answer for Nick Diaz’s aggressive volume-punching attack on Oct. 29 and dropped a unanimous decision to the ex-Strikeforce titleholder. Having won only one of his last five starts, “The Prodigy” suggested postfight that he may not return to the Octagon, and now decided to “take some time off to enjoy life, train and teach” before deciding on his future.
Other contenders: Ben Askren, Charlie Brenneman, Anthony Johnson, Rory MacDonald, Rick Story.
1. Frankie Edgar (14-1-1)
After surviving another brutal first round against Gray Maynard on Oct. 8, Edgar closed out the pair’s trilogy with another spectacular comeback, knocking out his “Bully” in the fourth round. Next up for the New Jerseyan is a Feb. 26 UFC title defense in Japan against former World Extreme Cagefighting titleholder Ben Henderson.
2. Gilbert Melendez (20-2)
Strikeforce’s lightweight ace turned in another strong performance on Dec. 17, out-punching American Top Team slugger Jorge Masvidal across five rounds to retain his 155-pound strap. While all signs pointed to Melendez’s imminent UFC signing, it was recently announced that “El Nino” will remain in the hexagon for the time being.
3. Gray Maynard (10-1-1, 1 NC)
Since suffering his first career defeat at the hands of Frankie Edgar in October, there have been no new fight developments for Maynard, but that’s not to say there haven’t been changes. In November, it was announced that “The Bully” would leave his longtime home gym of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas for the American Kickboxing Academy camp in San Jose, Calif.
4. Ben Henderson (15-2)
Henderson has looked nothing short of exceptional since transferring to the UFC, earning dominant unanimous decisions over Clay Guida, Jim Miller and Mark Bocek. The 27-year-old has expressed disappointment with his inability to finish in recent outings, something he’ll have the chance to rectify when he faces divisional ace Frankie Edgar for the UFC title in Japan on Feb. 26.
5. Shinya Aoki (29-5, 1 NC)
Japan’s top lightweight will go for his 30th career victory on Jan. 31 when he ties up with former training partner and ex-Sengoku champ Satoru Kitaoka. A victory would put Aoki at 4-0 on the year, following decisive, neck-cranking submissions of Americans Lyle Beerbohm, Rich Clementi and Rob McCullough.
6. Jim Miller (20-3)
Miller was on the verge of title contention when he had his impressive, eight-fight winning streak snapped by former WEC champ Ben Henderson in August. Now, the hard-nosed New Jerseyan will have a chance to rebound in a big way, as Miller will face Melvin Guillard on Jan. 20 in the main event of the UFC’s inaugural show on cable channel FX.
7. Clay Guida (29-12)
Once more on the cusp of contention, Guida had his title dreams busted -- along with his four-fight winning streak -- by Ben Henderson in a thrilling Nov. 12 three-rounder. The lightweight stalwart finishes 2011 with a 2-1 mark, having topped Anthony Pettis and Takanori Gomi.
8. Anthony Pettis (13-2)
The final lightweight champion of World Extreme Cagefighting lost out on a UFC title shot when he faltered against Clay Guida in his Octagon debut, but Pettis surged back in his sophomore outing to take a split decision against tough vet Jeremy Stephens. Next up for the Roufusport product: a trip to Japan in February, where he’ll face submission wiz Joe Lauzon at UFC 144.
9. Donald Cerrone (16-3)
The former WEC lightweight title contender has looked like a man reborn since entering the Octagon in February, racking up wins and keeping plenty busy. After tearing through four opponents in eight months, Cerrone has been granted a co-headlining slot against Nate Diaz at December’s major UFC 141 card.
10. Michael Chandler (9-0)
Previously unranked Chandler used heavy hands, a granite chin and his powerful collegiate wrestling base to topple Eddie Alvarez on Nov. 19, outlasting Bellator’s longtime lightweight ace to score a shocking fourth-round submission. With six impressive Bellator victories and a shiny new gold belt, Chandler awaits the winner of the promotion’s next lightweight tournament in 2012.
Other contenders: Eddie Alvarez, Melvin Guillard, Joe Lauzon, Dennis Siver, Gleison Tibau.
1. Jose Aldo (20-1)
Nova Uniao’s top student maintained his position atop the 145-pound division by turning away former UFC lightweight title challenger Kenny Florian in a five-round decision at UFC 136. The 25-year-old champ will next defend against unbeaten wrestler Chad Mendes on Jan. 14 before a partisan crowd in Rio de Janeiro.
2. Hatsu Hioki (24-4-2)
It wasn’t pretty, but Hioki avoided the curse of the Japanese imports with an Oct. 29 split decision win over George Roop in his Octagon debut. The Shooto champ will return home on Feb. 26 for another stiff test against hard-hitting WEC transfer Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144.
3. Chad Mendes (11-0)
Team Alpha Male’s new top featherweight was clinical in his August dismantling of grappling whiz Rani Yahya, cementing Mendes’ position as the division’s No. 1 contender. After some delay, the NCAA wrestling standout will get his shot at divisional kingpin Jose Aldo on Jan. 14 in Rio de Janeiro.
4. Pat Curran (16-4)
Curran started slowly but finished brutally in his Aug. 20 showdown with former Sengoku and Pancrase champion Marlon Sandro in the final of Bellator's Summer Series tournament. With his head kick knockout of Sandro, Curran earned the right to challenge champ Joe Warren, a shot which will come in February at an as-yet-unannounced Bellator event.
5. Kenny Florian (14-6)
Florian was denied his third UFC title bid on Oct. 8, his size advantage and clinching tactics insufficient for stymieing the skills of featherweight ruler Jose Aldo. Following the five-round loss, Florian contemplated retirement but has since stated that he plans to return to the 155-pound division, likely in mid-2012.
6. Marlon Sandro (20-3)
Sandro notched his 20th career victory in impressive fashion on Nov. 19, submitting Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Rafael Dias with a first-round arm-triangle choke. However, to get the rematch he desires -- a second crack at Bellator Summer Series tournament winner Pat Curran -- the heavy-handed Nova Uniao representative will have to navigate through the company’s upcoming sixth-season featherweight tournament.
7. Diego Nunes (16-2)
Nunes proved a tough out for Kenny Florian in June but has been out of order since that decision loss due to injury and personal troubles. Finally healed, “The Gun” will get the date he wanted with fellow WEC-import Manny Gamburyan when he faces the hard-hitting judoka at UFC 141 on Dec. 30.
8. Dustin Poirier (11-1)
The 22-year-old Poirier earned the first stoppage of his UFC tenure on Nov. 12, by taking apart Pablo Garza before submitting him with a brabo choke in the second round. The win keeps Poirier unbeaten as a featherweight and should set up a higher stakes bout come 2012.
9. Bart Palaszewski (36-14)
Palaszewski notched this biggest win of his nearly 10-year career on Oct. 29, when he blasted former lightweight contender Tyson Griffin for a knockout win in less than three minutes. The going won’t get any easier in the Team Curran fighter’s sophomore Octagon appearance, as “Bartimus” is slated for action on hostile soil against Japanese star Hatsu Hioki at UFC 144 on Feb. 26.
10. Joe Warren (7-2)
Bellator’s 145-pound titleholder seemed a clear-cut favorite to win the company’s fifth-season 135-pound bracket, but things took an unexpected turn on Sept. 24 when Warren was flattened by a left hook from fellow wrestler Alexis Vila. With top contender Patricio Freire injured, Warren will move back up the scale to defend his title against Pat Curran in February.
Other contenders: Patricio Freire, Manny Gamburyan, Tyson Griffin, Chan Sung Jung, Erik Koch.
1. Dominick Cruz (19-1)
Cruz waited more than four years for his rematch against Urijah Faber; their third meeting will come much quicker. The bantamweights have been tabbed as coaches of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15, which will debut on FX in March and will conclude with an as-yet-unannounced clash.
2. Urijah Faber (26-5)
In July, Faber suffered his first loss at bantamweight in a five-round unanimous decision against UFC champ Dominick Cruz. The “California Kid” will have another opportunity to take the title in 2012, but first he will coach opposite Cruz on the 15th season of UFC reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”
3. Joseph Benavidez (15-2)
MMA fans and pundits have long believed that Benavidez could be a champion at 125 pounds. The Team Alpha Male representative will have a chance to prove them right when he enters the semifinals of the UFC’s four-man flyweight title tournament against Shooto champ Yasuhiro Urushitani on March 3.
4. Brian Bowles (10-2)
Bowles suffered his first submission loss on Nov. 19 by way of Urijah Faber guillotine choke, and with it was dealt his first setback in the Octagon after wins over Takeya Mizugaki and Damacio Page. For now, the 21-year-old from Georgia moves down a rung in the ever-deepening UFC bantamweight division and takes a step back from a potential rematch with the man who took his WEC title, Dominick Cruz.
5. Scott Jorgensen (13-4)
Since failing in his WEC title bid against Dominick Cruz in December 2010, Jorgensen has been sterling in his new, eight-sided home. After brutally dispatching Ken Stone and outpointing Jeff Curran, “Young Guns” looks to be on the doorstep of another title shot, but that door is blocked by streaking Brazilian Renan Barao, whom Jorgensen will face on Feb. 4.
6. Demetrious Johnson (9-2)
The diminutive “Mighty Mouse” won’t have to answer questions about dropping to flyweight anymore. After suffering a five-round decision loss to Dominick Cruz in an October bid for the UFC bantamweight belt, Johnson is headed down to 125 pounds. First up: No. 1-ranked Ian McCall on March 3 in the semifinals of the UFC’s flyweight title tournament.
7. Renan Barao (27-1, 1 NC)
In November, Barao passed what many felt would be his toughest test to date, blowing through Englishman Brad Pickett at UFC 138. The Brazilian will look to run his remarkable unbeaten streak to 29 on Feb. 4, when he takes on former WEC title challenger Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143 in Las Vegas.
8. Miguel Torres (40-4)
Since being unceremoniously dumped by Zuffa in early December due to his now-infamous “rape van” tweet, Torres has said he will do “whatever it takes” to get back in the UFC’s good graces. The biggest struggle now for Torres, who has won three of his last four, may lie in getting enough high-caliber fights outside of the Octagon.
9. Brad Pickett (20-6)
Pickett’s home-turf UFC debut on Nov. 5 did not go as planned. The trilby-wearing Englishman won “Fight of the Night” honors at UFC 138 in Birmingham, but lost via first-round rear-naked choke to Brazilian contender Renan Barao.
10. Masakatsu Ueda (14-1-2)
Competing outside of Japan for the first time, Ueda moved up to lightweight and outpointed the retiring Royler Gracie on Sept. 14 in Brazil. The former Shooto 132-pound world champ will next bring his talents to America as part of Bellator’s sixth-season bantamweight tournament, but Ueda will first look to run his current winning streak to five when he meets hard-hitting youngster Kyoji Horiguchi on Jan. 8.
Other contenders: Bibiano Fernandes, Zach Makovsky, Michael McDonald, Takeya Mizugaki, Eddie Wineland.
1. Ian McCall (11-2)
Since bowing out of a Dec. 2 defense of his Tachi Palace Fights title, “Uncle Creepy” has relocated to the Octagon. McCal, once a WEC bantamweight, will have a chance to become the UFC’s first flyweight titleholder, but for starters, he’ll have to get through Demetrious Johnson on March 3 in Sydney.
2. Jussier da Silva (14-1)
The grappling game of Brazil’s best flyweight claimed another victim on Dec. 17 when the ant-man topped previously unbeaten Rodrigo “Indio” Santos via first-round rear-naked choke. With three straight victories since his February loss to McCall, Formiga seems to be moving ever-closer to a big-stage debut.
3. Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-4-6)
After spending nearly 11 years competing in his native Japan, Shooto’s 123-pound world champ has finally joined the UFC. Urushitani won’t have it easy for his first time in the Octagon, as he’ll tangle with former WEC bantamweight contender Joseph Benavidez in the semifinals of the company’s flyweight title tournament.
4. Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3)
The 34-year-old flyweight star suffered a hit on Aug. 5, as he lost a sound unanimous decision to Brazilian standout Jussier da Silva. Fortunately for Yamaguchi, his fan-friendly nature and action-packed style will continue to secure him fights on both sides of the Pacific.
5. Darrell Montague (9-2)
Montague started fast in his first Tachi Palace Fights flyweight title defense, but he could not stand up to the pressure of challenger Ian McCall. Montague was forced to tap in the second frame, but the talented and dynamic 23-year-old still figures to play a formative role in the flyweight division going forward.
6. Shinichi "B.J." Kojima (11-4-5)
The former ruler of the 125-pound roost has gone straight back to work since returning from his two-year layoff in August, earning two wins inside three months. Kojima’s most recent trip to the ring saw him earn a lackluster Nov. 5 unanimous decision over reigning super-flyweight King of Pancrase Kiyotaka Shimizu.
7. Yuki Shojo (11-6-2)
Shojo got his chance at the Shooto world title, but he could not replicate his 2008 victory over Yasuhiro Urushitani. This time around, the Shooto world champion knocked Shojo flat with a crushing head kick, sending him to the figurative back of the line in Shooto's 123-pound division.
8. Kiyotaka Shimizu (10-5-2)
With a 9-1-1 record since 2009, Shimizu has quietly made a name for himself as one of Japan’s strongest and toughest 125-pounders. The reigning super flyweight King of Pancrase will head to the ring of Shooto once again on Nov. 5 for a showdown with former flyweight top-ranker “B.J,” Kojima.
9. Louis Gaudinot (5-1)
Gaudinot came up short in his UFC debut on Dec. 3, when he was dealt his first loss since June 2009 by rangy bantamweight Johnny Bedford. With the 125-pound division coming soon to the Octagon, however, the green-haired “TUF 14” standout will have a chance to shine at his natural weight. .
10. Jose Maria Tome (28-3, 2 NC)
Jose Maria Tome’s record might be largely glossy, but the 29-year-old Brazilian is one of the country’s fastest rising talents. With five wins and four first-round submissions in 2011 alone, Tome’s shot at a bigger show stateside might not be far away.
With no fights at flyweight in the last 365 days with none scheduled within the next 90 days, previously ninth-ranked John Dodson exits the flyweight rankings.
Other contenders: Fumihiro Kitahara, Dustin Ortiz, Alexandre Pantoja, Mitsuhisa Sunabe, Ryosuke Tanuma.