|1||Fedor Emelianenko||100||M-1 Global||1|
|5||Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira||83||UFC||4|
|12||Jeff Monson||37||Free Agent||12|
|13||Junior dos Santos||32||UFC||17|
Rankings compiled by Richard Wade.
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men... A month ago I confidently asserted that "the next 70 days will see some of the biggest heavyweight fights in MMA history. If everything goes according to plan..." Famous last words.
Some things did go according to plan. Namely UFC 100 was a huge success for Zuffa and its now undisputed heavyweight champion #2 Brock Lesnar. So even if #3 Josh Barnett hadn't tested positive for steroids and forced the cancellation of his August 1 bout with #1 Fedor Emelianenko, it wouldn't have been a #1 vs #2 match.
I'm not psychic, but mark my words, Barnett is about to experience one of the biggest rankings drops in MMA history. And this will likely be the last time in his career that he is ranked in the top five, if not the top ten.
As for Fedor, today's press conference only served to tease the MMA world which is basically waiting the chance to applaud his signing a deal with the UFC and boo any other possibility.
If Emelianenko passes up this opportunity to defend his #1 ranking against Brock Lesnar in the UFC, there is very little chance of him remaining the undisputed #1 for any length of time.
The UFC now has 5 of the top 10 and 13 of the top 25 heavyweights under contract. Strikeforce is a distant second with 5 of the top 25. And that's pretty deceptive since #9 Andrei Arlovski is unlikely to return to Strikeforce since he was on loan from Affliction. #10 Alistair Overeem and #20 Gegard Mousasi are both fighting for DREAM as well as Strikeforce. Mousasi is also under contract to M-1 Global but expressed interest this week in signing with the UFC eventually.
The UFC is actually even stronger than this chart shows because of the acquisition of former top 25 fighters Ben Rothwell from Affliction and Roy Nelson's entry on the 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter. The winner of the TUF tournament could well be in the top 25 in six months time.
There is still no word on who #14 Fabricio Werdum will face on Strikeforce's August 15 show, if anyone. There is an outside chance that Fedor himself will deign to step into the Strikeforce cage, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
At the end of this month , MMA legends #4 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and #6 Randy Couture will finally meet at UFC 102. Something of a senior circuit fight, this is the loser's bracket of the UFC's four man heavyweight mini-tournament. If Nogueira wins in convincing fashion, we could see "Big Nog" get one more run at UFC gold against Brock Lesnar. A Big Nog victory over Lesnar would cement his Hall of Fame status, but even a win will likely come at grave cost to his health. I'll be surprised if Randy is given a rematch against Lesnar should he beat Nogueira.
In October, UFC 104 will see #7 Shane Carwin and #11 Cain Velasquez square off in a likely #1 contender's match. Like everyone else, their fate is in Fedor's hands. If he signs with the UFC he is expected to get an immediate title shot. The Carwin/Velasquez winner might have to get in line behind the Couture/Nogueira winner as well.