If divisional rankings and pound-for-pound lists weren't frustrating enough for you, USA Today released their list of the top powers in MMA. Not surprisingly, Zuffa co-owners Dana White and the Fertitta brothers receive top billing, but I think the rest of the list may surprise you:
- Fertitta brothers, Dana White: UFC co-owners
- Joe Silva: UFC vice president for talent relations
- Georges St. Pierre: UFC welterweight champion
- Jon Jones: UFC light heavyweight champion
- Anderson Silva: UFC middleweight champion
- Brock Lesnar: UFC heavyweight
- Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn: Trainers
- Cain Velasquez: UFC heavyweight champion
- Craig Piligian: Executive producer, Pilgrim Films & Television
- Bjorn Rebney: CEO, Bellator Fighting Championships
The top three look spot on. Joe Silva works as the UFC matchmaker and ultimately decides who fights in the UFC. GSP, the sport's number one PPV attraction with Brock Lesnar's absence, has parlayed his dominance in the cage into heavyweight sponsorship from places like Nike, Gatorade, and Under Armour.
Past that, the list is a little murky. Is Jon Jones, without having proven himself as a draw, really the fourth most powerful entity in the sport? Shouldn't Brock Lesnar, recent downturn aside, rank higher? He's still the top-drawing fighter in MMA history.
Do Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn deserve to be on the list? While they train two of the UFC's seven current champions, neither fighter is homegrown.
And what of Craig Piligian? If logic didn't dictate it, he's the executive producer behind the Ultimate Fighter. While last season was a huge disappointment, ratings for the show are still a positive. But the show hasn't created a legitimate star since TUF 10, when it was gift-wrapped Kimbo Slice and Roy Nelson.
It's an interesting list, nonetheless. Be sure to check out the link above for 11 to 20.