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Fun With Rankings: Middleweights

411 Mania Sherdog MMA Weekly
Matt Lindland Anderson Silva Anderson Silva
Dan Henderson Paulo Filho Paulo Filho
Anderson Silva Dan Henderson Matt Lindland
Paulo Filho Rich Franklin Rich Franklin
Rich Franklin Matt Lindland Dan Henderson
Denis Kang Nathan Marquardt Denis Kang
Jeremy Horn Denis Kang Nathan Marquardt
Nathan Marquardt Yushin Okami Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler Robbie Lawler Kazuo Misaki
Kazuo Misaki Frank Trigg Frank Trigg

411 is definitely the outlier here. They're holding on to Matt Lindland at #1. A year ago that was everyone's consensus, particularly after his KO of Jeremy Horn. But it's a who have you fought lately kind of world and most everyone else is impressed by Anderson Silva's red hot run in the UFC. For many, the demolition of Marquart, a consensus top 10 fighter, established the Spider at the top.

The other source of contention is what to do with Dan Henderson. He owns the Pride 185lb belt but is fighting Light Heavy these days. 411 has him at #2, Sherdog at #3 and MMA Weekly all the way down at #5. We'll see. If he gets crushed by Rampage, I wouldn't be surprised to see him back at 185.

Filho and Franklin round out everyone's top 5. I assume Filho will reign in the WEC for a while but it would make sense for him to get a UFC title shot eventually if he builds up enough of a brand name on free TV. Franklin is about to run into Silva again, he'll either be back at #1 soon or he'll be in Tito land. I imagine he's a big enough draw for the UFC to live in gatekeeper land for a long time.

From there everyone has Denis Kang at 6 or 7, with Nathan Marquardt in that same neighborhood. Robbie Lawler is also universally top ten. 411 and MMA Weekly both rate Kazuo Misaki - interesting that 411 disses Trigg who crushed Misaki in KM's last fight. Sherdog is the only ranking that considers Yushin Okami top 10. What's a guy got to do to get respect? Be aggressive?

Zuffa only has six of these 12 fighters signed, and one of those is in the WEC, making this the weakest UFC division. Lindland and Horn are long-time ronin whom I don't expect to see back in the UFC anytime soon. I'd love to see one or both in the EliteXC/Strikeforce -- they would both be more than worthy of fighting Ninja Rua for his belt -- if he beats Robbie Lawler that is. Cung Le as well. Kang will probably end up in K-1 since he insists on fighting in Korea and UFC isn't keen on that. No idea what will become of Trigg and Misaki. Hope that the other Frank goes to EliteXC, I'd love to see him fight Shamrock. Misaki ends up in K-1 I bet, given Zuffa's reluctance to sign top Japanese talent. More question marks in this division are Marquardt and Okami -- both stolid methodical fighters who don't light up a crowd of meatheads the way Dana likes. I would like to see them fight in a "loser leaves the UFC" match. Got to make room for Kalib Starnes and Rory Singer's you know.

Jake Rossen at the Sherdog letters pages chimes in about the where to rank Lindland controversy (it appears he differs with the official Sherdog rankings):

At 20-5, Lindland's winning percentage against credible middleweight opposition is unmatched. (Two of those losses came against Fedor Emelianenko and Quinton Jackson, and he avenged another against Falaniko Vitale.)

Not only is Lindland's arithmetic impressive, his performances are studies in true mixed-style versatility. He choked out BJJ black belt Travis Lutter (Pictures); he knocked out Jeremy Horn; he handed Carlos Newton his only submission loss aside from Kazushi Sakuraba; against current UFC light heavyweight monster Jackson, he more than held his own.

It disappoints me to see people discount Lindland simply because he's not passing out drunk in front of reality TV cameras or chugging Xyience. Perhaps Frank Shamrock (Pictures) was right when he said that people only see what's shiny and pretty on TV.

With Dan Henderson apparently a 205-pound entrant, it's a three-way dance between Lindland, Anderson Silva, and Paulo Filho. I say Lindland could take them both. And until we find out, Silva's title doesn't mean a whole lot to me.

I think Jake will be holding his breath a long time. That is unless Landland signs with EliteXC and beats Ninja, Lawler, Trigg, Cung Le and Frank Shamrock. In that case you've got a real debate. With Misaki and Kang on the market, and Marquardt and Okami likely to be free agents soon, the middleweight division is EliteXC's best chance to rule a division.

Update [2007-8-13 10:56:54 by Kid Nate]:

The Irish Whip rankings have Henderson at #1, Lindland all the way down at #5 below Kang, Okami at #7, and Jason Miller at #9. Miller is in WEC now and will likely fight Filho soon.

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