Thursday, June 07, 2007

SteelSkins UFC Power Rankings

With four UFC events coming up in the next four weeks*, we thought it’d be a good time to update our UFC Power Rankings. Here they are!

*Editor’s Note: UFC Fight Night 10 takes place this Tuesday, June 12 on Spike TV; UFC 72 takes place next Saturday, June 16 on PPV; The Ultimate Fighter 5 (TUF5) Finale is a week later on June 23 on Spike TV; and UFC 73 takes place two weeks after that on July 7 on PPV.


There hasn't been a HW fight since we last updated the Power Rankings. Why then do we see movement in the #12 and #13 spots?

First, the Wrestling Observer reported that the rumored rematch between former UFC HW champions Tim Sylvia and Frank Mir at UFC 74 was scratched when the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to sanction the fight because Mir wasn’t ready to face someone of Sylvia’s caliber (Note: Mir beat Sylvia back in 2004 for the HW title, but then was in a brutal motorcycle accident and forced into a two-year hiatus, giving up his title; he’s never been the same fighter since). However, NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer has since stated that the Commission was never pitched the fight possibility, and therefore was never able to refuse it.

According to, “Although the fight was never officially discussed, Kizer did state that if it were presented, he would have a hard time approving it based on Mir’s recent work.” Ouch.

Regardless of what was or wasn’t reviewed by the NSAC, Mir’s star is fading, while Herring is only getting more and more used to fighting in the Octagon and should be in the Top 10 soon enough (despite the fact that he will lose to “Minotauro” at his next fight). While the HW division has made significant inroads with improving its talent pool over the last seven months, with the signing of Randy Couture, Cro Cop, Big Nog and Fabricio Werdum, there is still a big drop off after the #8 Contender.

Upcoming fights include Jake O’Brien vs. #17 Tom Murphy (UFC 72); Eddie Sanchez vs. UFC newcomer Colin Robinson (UFC 72); “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. Heath Herring (UFC 73); Champion Randy Couture vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (UFC 74); Tim Sylvia vs. TBA (UFC 74); and Mirko Cro Cop vs. TBA (UFC 75). Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Light Heavyweights

With the introduction of Dan Henderson and Houston Alexander, formerly #13, James Irvin drops off, along with #15 Marvin Eastman. You might think we’re crazy for ranking Henderson as low as #5 or Alexander as high as #13, but we’d remind you that, in the case of Hendo, the purpose of the SteelSkins Power Rankings is to illustrate who deserves a title shot next, or the fighters who should stand in someone’s way—meaning, we’re not a fan of fighters without UFC experience getting fasttracked to title shots because we think it’s unfair to those UFC loyalists—plus, we rarely rank a fighter new to the UFC higher than #5 until they have at least one fight’s worth of Octagon experience.

In the case of Alexander being ranked #13 after previously being unranked, he did totally annihilate the #3 Jardine, who—had he won—could have legitimately asked for a title shot; plus, we’d like to point out that there’s a significant drop off after #10. Nevertheless, it was a classic whooping, and we look forward to seeing more of this Nebraskan D.J.

The big news is that there’s a new sheriff in town, with Rampage Jackson knocking out Chuck Liddell early in the first round to win the LHW title. Chuck’s still tougher than everyone else on this list, so his place is secured as the #1 Contender in our eyes. Thiago Silva beat James Irvin to move past Babalu; however with the introduction of Hendo, he stays put at #9.

Upcoming fights include Forrest Griffin vs. #21 Hector Ramirez (UFC 72); Rashad Evans vs. Tito Ortiz (UFC 73); Stephan Bonnar vs. #24 Mike Nickels (UFC 73); and Michael Bisping vs. TBA (UFC 75). Your Top 15 Contenders are:


How did Kampmann move up three spots without even fighting? That’s actually a combination of three things:

  • First, after winning his first 5 UFC fights, Chris Leben, formerly ranked #7, has now lost 3 of 4, sending him down to #10, which, in turn, moved Lister, Grove and Kampmann all up one spot each.
  • Secondly, the longer we wait and see if Dana White will ever forgive Travis Lutter for not making weight in what should have been a title shot against Anderson Silva, the more we think Lutter’s days in the UFC are over. We still say Lutter has a place in the UFC, as he surprised everyone by being Silva’s biggest test to date. But the waiting game is only making the case for other fighters to move up that much stronger.
  • Thirdly, we might have misjudged Kampmann, and in doing so, might have misjudged MacDonald too. We think their new positions better reflect the MW division.

With Terry Martin’s win over formerly ranked #13 Ivan Salaverry, he is now introduced into the Top 15, sending Singer and Rivera down one peg each. Salaverry drops two, while Thales Leites (formerly ranked #15) drops right off the map.

Upcoming fights include Rich Franklin vs. Yushin Okami (UFC 72); Jason MacDonald vs. Rory Singer (UFC 72); Scott Smith vs. #19 Ed Herman (UFC 72); Champion Anderson Silva vs. Nate Marquardt (UFC 73); and a rumored rematch between Rich Franklin and Champion Anderson Silva (UFC 77). Your Top 15 Contenders are:


Just one WW fight occurred since we last updated the Power Rankings—and it was a battle. Karo “The Heat” Parisyan (formerly ranked #5) won a unanimous decision over Josh Burkman (formerly ranked #7). But when it comes to the Power Rankings, we’ve got a big problem due to just how stacked the division is—stacked like dominos. Parisyan has lost to #4 Sanchez, who has lost to #3 Koscheck. It was just nine months since Parisyan’s loss to Sanchez, so moving him ahead would be a bit too soon in our eyes. So the result is a TIE for #4, which SteelSkins admits is not the preferred way out.

Likewise, Burkman lost, and so should be dropped down a peg or two. The problem is, he beat Fickett back in January 2006, and we haven’t seen Fickett beat a top 10 talent since. Until we see Fickett fight again, we’re not ready to make that move, which leaves us with no choice but to put Burkman and Fickett in a TIE at #7.

Like in other divisions, we feel that there is a drop off around #9, although Neer always has a chance to catch any opponent, as he did with Melvin Guillard and then Joe Stevenson (now both LWs).

There are a lot of upcoming WW fights, including Jon Fitch vs. #19 Roan Carneiro (UFC Fight Night 10); Luigi Fioravanti vs. #25 Forrest Petz (UFC Fight Night 10); #18 Pete Spratt vs. UFC newcomer Tamdan McCory (UFC Fight Night 10); #28 Chad Reiner vs. UFC newcomer Steve Bruno (UFC Fight Night 10); Marcus Davis vs. UFC newcomer Jason Tan (UFC 72); Drew Fickett vs. Chris Lytle (UFC 73); GSP vs. Josh Koscheck (UFC 74); and #23 Jess Liaudin vs. TBA (UFC 75). Also, TUF6 Debuts in September with coaches Matt Hughes and Matt Serra. It will showcase 16 WWs. The live finale featuring a title fight between Serra and Hughes is expected to take place in December. Your Top 15 Contenders are:


Like with the WWs, there was only one LW fight since we last updated the Power Rankings. #8 Din Thomas submitted UFC newcomer Jeremy “Little Heathen” Stevens in the second round. Unfortunately for Stevens, we’re not moving him up, mostly because he was probably over-ranked to begin with, and frankly, there’s a big drop off after #7.

We’re also introducing newly contracted Marcus “Maximus” Aurelio, the BJJ blackbelt who fights with American Top Team. Aurelio, along with Wander Braga, have yet to make their UFC debuts, but we like their odds, which is why we’re ranking Aurelio at #11, where he replaces Yves Edwards.

Aside from a pair of ’04 and ’05 wins over Hermes Franca, Yves Edwards hasn’t fared well as of late. He’s won just 1 of his last 5 fights, with two of those losses coming in the UFC, where he hasn’t fought since July 2006. In SteelSkins’ UFC Power Rankings, you need only one year to pass since your last UFC fight (even if you’re still under contract) for us to retire you from the rankings. We’ve bumped Edwards down to #17, but come next month, if we haven’t heard any rumors about upcoming UFC matches, we’re canning his ass.

There are a lot of upcoming LW fights, including Spencer Fisher vs. #16 Sam Stout (UFC Fight Night 10); #18 Thiago Tavares vs. UFC newcomer Jason Black (UFC Fight Night 10); #31 Nate Mohr vs. UFC newcomer Luke Caudillo (UFC Fight Night 10); #36 Gleison Tibau vs. UFC newcomer Jeff Cox (UFC Fight Night 10); Tyson Griffin vs. #21 Clay Guida (UFC 72); and #23 Dustin Hazelett vs. UFC new comer Stevie Lynch (UFC 72). The TUF5 Finale on June 23rd will feature coaches (and former champs) B.J. Penn vs. Jens Pulver, along with an influx of new LW talent like Joe Lauzon, who is SteelSkins’ pick to win it all. The event will also feature Roger Huerta vs. TBA and Leonard Garcia vs. TBA.

Additional upcoming fights include Champion Sean Sherk vs. Hermes Franca (UFC 73); Kenny Florian vs. UFC newcomer Alvin Robinson (UFC 73); Frank Edgar vs. UFC newcomer Mark Bocek (UFC 73); #19 Jorge Gurgel vs. #35 Diego Saraiva (UFC 73); and Joe Stevenson vs. #20 Kurt Pellegrino (UFC 74). Your Top 15 Contenders are: