Dave Doyle of Fox Sports did his best to do a top 10 pound for pound ranking of today's MMA fighters. The criteria were recent fights (or at least, fights within the last 12 months counted more), finishing ability, perseverance to win, winning record, and caliber of opposition. His list is as follows:
That's actually not a terrible list. For starters, it isn't American, Brazilian or Japanese-centric. Often times rankings will resort to weighing the talents of one country's fighters too heavily to make a point about how underrated or under appreciated they are. This list also got fighters from a fairly diverse array of fighting organizations. And if you take Doyle's criteria at face value, these 10 fighters meet the demands fairly well.
- Chuck Liddell
- Fedor Emelianenko
- Mirko CroCop
- Georges St. Pierre
- Matt Hughes
- Takanori Gomi
- Matt Lindland
- Anderson Silva
- Mauricio Rua
- Wanderlai Silva
Alas, there are problems with this, too.
Under no circumstance should Anderson Silva be ahead of Matt Lindland. Period. I understand he dismantled Rich Franklin and he's the champ. I also don't care. Lindland's only notable loss in recent memory was a split decision loss against Rampage Jackson at light heavyweight. Moreover, he should've won the fight. See for yourself. Add to that wins over Carlos Newton and Jeremy Horn (a KO victory no less) this year. ADD TO THAT victories over Travis Lutter, Joe Doerkson, Nino Schembri, and Mike Van Arsdale (at 205lbs) and we see a fighter who is both dominant in his weight class and a challenge to light heavyweights everywhere. Don't be surprised when he puts up a fight against Fedor either. Point blank: Silva does not possess the skill to pull that off.
I'm not convinced Chuck Liddell deserves the number one status, although that may just be a matter of opinion. Both Fedor and Chuck have cleaned out their respective divisions, but overall, the level of talent Fedor has faced is higher. Some might make the case that Randy Couture surely deserves some mention here, but Doyle's criteria favored wins within the last 12 months and overall record. While Randy's accomplishments are incredible, I agree with leaving him off the roster on that account.
Another huge problem is with Takanori Gomi at #6. Here's Doyle's explanation:
There were questions about the PRIDE lightweight champion after he was submitted by Marcus Aurelio in April, then won a rematch by split decision. But a quick win over Mitsuhiro Ishida was just what fans of the Fireball Kid have come to expect from him. Is he about go on another tear like his 10-fight win streak from 2004 through last April?Um, hello? Nick Diaz? Gogoplata? Remember? There will be no ten fight win streak because no matter when he fights next, he'll be coming off a loss. Diaz didn't exactly "expose" Gomi, but he did prove Gomi has trouble fighting hurt against good jiu-jitsu players. The Gomi vs. Penn fight is different than the Gomi vs. Diaz fight, but insofar as Gomi was subbed after being battered for a couple (or more) rounds, they are the same. Want to beat Gomi? Hurt him early and submit him later with good jiu-jitsu. Regardless, Gomi is enormously talented, but does not deserve a place on the list this year. He was defeated fair and square and there are other fighters whose achievements merit recognition.
The biggest problem with this list is the omission of Dan Henderson. He did lose to Misaki this year, but he also beat him. If Gomi can earn top honors directly after a loss, I'm not sure why Henderson's earlier loss should count. And not too long before that Henderson defeated the supremely tough Murilo Bustamante. The top achievement, however, is Dan's victory over Wanderlai Silva and the unification of two belts in two different weight classes at the exact same time, a first for the sport of MMA. I understand Henderson's loss to Misaki hurts him (especially considering Trigg handled Misaki), but the Henderson we saw against Silva was better and almost brand new. His striking was superb (spinning backfist anyone?), his game plan well executed, and toughness unquestionable. He also finished the fight in spectacular fashion. Now that Zuffa owns PRIDE, look out for him to run clean over UFC middleweights, even Rich Franklin.
I don't want to bag on Doyle too much. Ranking fighters in the same weight class is difficult to say nothing of ranking the best fighter irrespective of weight. To that end, his list is inadequate, but decent. But yes, there were some glaring omissions. Better luck next time, Dave.