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Article:UFC rankings as of 3.7.08

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Editor's note: While we are fans of mma in general, the UFC is currently the most marketable, well-known promoter in the world. For that reason, our rankings reflect only those fighters within the UFC. These rankings are my opinion only and do not reflect the opinions of others at The Sports Brief. '   -Besse Heavyweight

1. Randy Couture
2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
3. Tim Sylvia
4. Brandon Vera
5. Fabricio Verdum
6. Andrei Arlovski
7. Frank Mir
8. Heath Herring
9. Chieck Kongo
10. Brock Lesnar

Notes: This division got better overnight for me, largely due to UFC 81. Brock Lesnar showed that while he’s got a serious hole in his game (jiu-jitsu, or lack thereof) he is a force on his feet and with his ground and pound game. But Mir’s conditioning and expertise on the mat reigned surpreme, and I’m looking for a Mir-Sylvia rematch. Couture stays up there for now; I’d love to see him fight Nog. If he wins there, he can go fight Fedor in a phone booth for all I care. He’ll have earned it.

Light Heavyweight

1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
2. Dan Henderson
3. Lyoto Machida
4. Keith Jardine
5. Chuck Liddell
6. Forrest Griffin
7. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
8. Thiago Silva
9. Rashad Evans
10. Tito Ortiz

Notes: The Light Heavyweight landscape doesn’t change much as there were no significant fights in this weight class over the next month. That all changes at UFC 84 and 85. Rua is out in his match with Liddell, and “Sugah” Rashad has offered to sacrifice himself to the gods. The only question now is, who fights Thiago Silva? This guy has looked dangerous so far and I thought his fight with Evans would be a good test for both fighters. The Wanderlei-Jardine matchup is interesting because a win for the Dean justifies a title shot, yet a win for Silva will maintain relevancy in the sport.

Middleweight

1. Anderson Silva
2. Dan Henderson
3. Rich Franklin
4. Yushin Okami
5. Nate Marquardt
6. Patrick Cote
7. Travis Lutter
8. Dean Lister
9. Thales Leites
10. Chris Leben

Notes: Not a whole lot changes here for me, either. Silva is downright scary. I’m scared of him right now while I type this, and you should be shivering in fear as you read this. Poor Henderson is the second best fighter in two different weight classes after losing to both champions. How frustrating is that? Cote and Marquadt each looked impressive in wins over McFredries and Horn, respectively. But the men in front of them are too good to move out of the way. While Okami is still ranked 4th after his win over a still punch drunk Evan Tanner (no pun intended), I think he deserves a title shot here. Okami, aside from Cote, is the only guy in the top 7 that Silva hasn’t fought (or demolished). Leben, meanwhile, is the gatekeeper to the middleweight division. I love this guy. I wish he could fight every day, whether it’s in the Octagon, the middle of the street or by the back booth of a bar somewhere.

Welterweight

1. Georges “Rush” St. Pierre
2. Matt Serra
3. Jon Fitch
4. Karo Parysian
5. Matt Hughes
6. Josh Koscheck
7. Marcus Davis
8. Diego Sanchez
9. Josh Burkman
10. Mike Swick

Notes: GSP is the “interim” champ, and unless he gets caught again, he’ll dominate Serra in their rematch. Meanwhile, the UFC can exhale after Fitch, Koscheck and Sanchez all passed their tests at UFC 82. I thought Hazelett deserved more of a chance after dominating the first round over “Kos,” but oh well. Sanchez had his fire back, and I would love a rematch with Koscheck to settle that one. Parysian fights Thiago Alves at UFN 13 and needs a win to maintain any hopes of a title shot. Meanwhile, Fitch looks like he’s next in line. Why not a title eliminator?

Lightweight

1. B.J. Penn
2. Sean Sherk
3. Joe Stevenson
4. Roger Huerta
5. Kenny Florian
6. Clay Guida
7. Frankie Edgar
8. Tyson Griffin
9. Din Thomas
10. Joe Lauzon

Notes: Penn challenges Silva and St. Pierre for moniker of Best P4P in the World. This guy is so flexible he could suck a fart out of his butt. Can I say that here? Anyway, UFC 84 is a big night for this division, because if Penn wins, I seriously question whether he’ll stick around to clean out this division, which he should have no problem doing. Florian and Lauzon will be a good test for both men. While this division is stacked with depth and talent, I think there’s a significant gap between the top 2 spots and the rest of the division. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone else in the top 10 steps up as a legitimate threat for the title in 2008.

  Read more from the The Sports Brief with Besse and Keefe at http://sportsbrief.blogspot.com. Send any questions, thoughts or comments to sportsbrief@gmail.com.


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