Bloody Elbow prides itself on being the best source for MMA rankings, and we've decided to try something new. In addition to the monthly Bloody Elbow Meta-Rankings, the SB Nation Rankings, and a bunch of us staffers contributing to the official UFC fighter rankings, we've recently added women's MMA rankings as well. One thing we hadn't done yet though was a take a good look at the number two MMA organization in the world, Bellator FC. So without further ado, welcome to the first edition of our Bellator rankings.
Our panel consists of five BE writers - T.P. Grant, Fraser Coffeen, Dallas Winston, Zane Simon, and yours truly. At the end of each Bellator season we'll re-visit the rankings and see what has changed. We will look at every Bellator weight class, from heavyweight all the way down to women's strawweight.
The system is pretty simple, and similar to the SB Nation rankings. Fighters are given five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second, etc., down to one point for fifth place. Some divisions featured more than five fighters getting votes, and they are listed as well to show how close they were to the top five. You can check out the charts for each of the eight weight classes below, with a brief synopsis of the division below the chart. Enjoy!
The 24-year-old Volkov claimed the top spot after picking up the vacant Bellator heavyweight title when he won the season seven tournament final over second-ranked Hale. Third-ranked Ivanov hasn't competed since late 2011 due to a stabbing incident in early 2012 that left him in pretty bad shape. He has returned to training though and wants to compete later this year. Rounding out the top 5 are former tournament finalist Santos and Russian sambo world champion Minakov.
Vegh, the current Bellator light heavyweight champion, sits atop the list after going undefeated in five Bellator fights. Newton is the number one contender after winning the season eight tournament, defeating number five Zayats in the final. King Mo is in the three spot and will compete in the four-man Summer Series tournament that kicks off next month. Former champ M'Pumbu holds down the four spot. This was the only division that had the same five fighters receiving votes from the whole panel.
Shlemenko became the Bellator middleweight kingpin after the departure of Hector Lombard by beating number two Falcao in a title fight. Marshall, the season eight tournament winner, sits in the three spot and will be the next guy to challenge Shlemenko. The top five is rounded out by former tournament finalists Vasilevsky and Cooper.
Ben Askren has been the Bellator welterweight champion for well over two years now and has won all eight of his fights in the promotion. He most recently defeated number four (tied) Amoussou, but also holds a win over number two Lima. Lima rebounded from the loss by making the finals of the most recent tournament, but broke his hand and the bout with number four (tied) Saunders was delayed until July. Season seven tournament winner Koreshkov sits in the three spot and will probably be the next opponent for Askren.
Like Askren above and Curran below, Chandler is one of the faces of the franchise. He picked up the title in late 2011 by beating number two Alvarez, whose position in the organization is very much up in the air at the moment. Number three Hawn had his shot at Chandler on Bellator's Spike TV debut in January, but was submitted in the second round. Season eight tournament winner Rickels sits in the four spot, but he'll have to wait his turn for a title shot - number five Jansen is up next for Chandler.
Curran has already beat Friere and Shamhalaev, and will either face Straus (the season six tournament winner) or Frodo (the season eight tourney winner) next. The next featherweight tournament should feature a ton of talent and could turn out to be really interesting.
Dantas defeated teammate Galvao at Bellator 89 to defend his Bellator bantamweight title for the first time. The organization hasn't run a 135-pound tournament since season six, so there's a bit of a disconnect in the rankings. Season six tourney finalist Nogueira sits in the the three spot despite not competing since the loss to Galvao, while former featherweight champ Warren and Nakamura round out the top five.
EDIT - Bellator's women's division is messed up, so our rankings are too. There are fighters here from 115 and 125, and a couple that have since left the organization. We'll endeavor to clean these up next time, but it's kind of confusing.
Upcoming bouts for ranked fighters
Lightweight - Michael Chandler (1) vs. Dave Jansen (5), Bellator 96, June 19th
Light heavyweight - Mo Lawal (3) vs. Jacob Noe (NR), Bellator 96, June 19th
Welterweight - Douglas Lima (2) vs. Ben Saunders (T4), Bellator 97, July