Yesterday, we took a look at the honorable mentions. (As an aside, Urijah Faber probably deserved mention on that list. Complete oversight on my part.) Today, we reveal the bottom half of the top ten.
10. Rashad Evans (15-1-1) - I've had a hard time with Evans. There's an argument that he doesn't deserve to be on the honorable mentions list. A 10-1-1 record in the UFC (soon to be 11-1-1?), including five victories over top ten fighters and a short stint with the UFC title, is hard for me to keep off. What really hurts Rashad is that he hasn't fought more than twice in a year since 2007, and that is very unlikely to change this year. That's four years in his prime wasted.
9. Jon Fitch (23-3-1) - Had Georges St. Pierre never existed, we might be talking about Fitch as the greatest welterweight in MMA since Matt Hughes. Instead, Fitch will end up with the Charles Barkleys and Dan Marinos of the world -- talented, dominant athletes who never tasted championship gold. After starting his career 2-2, no one has defeated Fitch besides St. Pierre. Fitch is 33, but his grindy, deliberate style is perfectly suited for fighting into his late 30s.
8. Frank Shamrock (23-10-2) - Shamrock may have had the first truly great run as UFC champion, but that run (and his career as a whole) is really hurt by the quality of his opposition. I know the old timers will come down on me, but Kevin Jackson, Igor Zinoviev, Jeremy Horn, and John Lober do not look great in retrospect. Retiring in his prime doesn't help either. Still, he helped foster 205-lb. weight class, and his dramatic victory over Tito Ortiz is a defining moment in MMA.
7. Quinton Jackson (32-8) - Jackson never had an extended run with a major title, but he clobbered Chuck Liddell twice, most famously to win the UFC title in 2007. He also holds wins over Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida, and Ricardo Arona. Defeating Wanderlei Silva in Pride would have moved him up a couple notches on my list.
6. Tito Ortiz (16-8-1) - Like Frank Shamrock, he was another guy with a dominant run as champ that doesn't look as good in retrospect. Unlike Shamrock, his career-defining win came at the start of that run -- a decision over Wanderlei Silva in 2000 -- rather than the end of it. Speaking of Shamrocks, though, nearly 20% of his wins came at the expense of Frank's brother, Ken.