Best Pound for Pound Fighter

Following July 19th the debate began as to who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world in Mixed Martial Arts.  Before July 19th two people were really thought of as perhaps the top guy: Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva.  Following July 19th the debate gets tougher with both guys winning.  Let me begin by defining the term best pound for pound.  The best pound for pound fighter does not necessarily mean that he could beat any fighter in the world.  For example at 145 lbs, Urijah Faber would stand little chance against most heavier opponents.  The pound for pound title is for the best fighter in the world, size and weight has nothing to do with it and a fight between #1 and #2 wouldn’t necessarily settle the debate.  That is why the title best pound for pound fighter is difficult to determine and is very subjective.  Here is my list of the best pound for pound fighters. 

1. Anderson Silva –  Anderson is number one to me for a few reasons.  First, he has cleaned out the middleweight divison of the UFC.  There is not a middleweight that I think can beat him.  Second, he has beaten top fighters constantly.  He beat a top notch fighter in Dan Henderson and another in Rich Franklin, and he destryoed Franklin.  He beat a solid guy in Nate Marquardt.  Third, he challenges himself.  He moved up to 205 to fight James Irvin.  Irvin is not a stud a 205, but he has serious KO power.  He could have KO’d Silva, but Silva destroyed him quickly.  Fourth, Anderson is so well rounded.  His striking is legendary.  His Muay Thai is deadly.  His jiu jitsu is incredible although we don’t see much of it.  I don’t see him getting beat any time soon at 185 or 205. 

2. Fedor Emelianenko –  I am tempted to rank Fedor 1b.  Someone could make a solid argument to him being number 1.  Fedor always impresses.  He really impressed against Sylvia.  Not just that he won, but that he won in 36 seconds.  He is no doubt the best heavyweight, but I put him second to Anderson because I do not feel he has cleaned out the divison like Anderson has.  Fedor still has several guys to beat that are top level.  I’d like to see him fight Couture, Arlovski and Barnett.  Don’t get me wrong Fedor has a great resume and has beaten great guys like Nogueira and Cro Cop.  Fedor is incredible.  As for now he is numebr 2 pound for pound and I think he has to win another and Silva has to lose to change that.

3. B.J. Penn –  Pure talent B.J. may be up there with Anderson and Fedor.  I believe B.J. may be the guy to challenge the two above guys.  He has looked dominant since his return against Pulver, Stevenson, and Sherk.  He wants to fight St. Pierre in what would be a dream match.  B.J. is one of those guys that can fight at several divisons and he has made clear he wants the welterweight belt.  If he beats St. Pierre he has to be in the talk for number 1.  He has beaten solid welterweights before and can fight well at 170.  He has even talked about going up to 185 to challenge Anderson.  B.J.’s knock has always been his drive.  That has changed lately it seems and when on his game he can beat anyone at any weight.  B.J. made very good fighters in Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson look bad.  I am on the Penn bandwagon right now and think that right now he can beat anyone at 155 and maybe anyone at 170. 

4. Urijah Faber – Some people may want St. Pierre in this spot, but I have Faber.  Faber is an awesome featherweight.  He may be the best featherweight ever.  I and many still want the Yamamoto fight, but the Pulver fight was great.  Faber impressed there and moved up my rankings because of that.  I don’t see any 145 lb guy beating Faber.  His boxing is great and he is so innovative on the ground.  The category is best pound for pound fighter and I think Urijah is one of the best. 

5. Georges St. Pierre – St. Pierre is not ranked higher because he does have a recent loss to Matt Serra.  I know he avenged that loss since then, but Serra I consider far less talented than him.  St. Pierre is the total package.  When he is on he is unstoppable, and the key is when he is on.  I don’t suspect he will lose to Jon Fitch and a matcvh with B.J. Penn is on the horizon.  St. Pierre looked great against Serra, Hughes and Koscheck lately.  He is beating top level talent at the welterweight divison.  he is a few fights away from cleaning out the divison.  If he beats Fitch, Penn, Alves and Sanchez, he may move up to 185.  St. Pierre is an awesome fighter and he has room to climb up.  I think what is so impressive about him is his desire to learn more and grow as a fighter. 

6. Miguel Torres – A 135 pound fighter is hard to rank, however there is no doubt that Torres is the world’s best bantamweight.  His popularity is growing by leaps and bounds.  His last fight may be fight of the year.  He has sick jiu jitsu and showed he can stand and bang.  He has an incredible overall record and he sports a mullet unashamedly.  Torres is great at 135.  Many are calling for a Torres vs. Faber fight and that would be awesome as I believe Torres would be a challenge to Urijah.  I do not know if we know how good Miguel is and I do not know if we ever will.  He has to be one of the most underrated fighters in the world. 

7. Lyoto Machida – I do not know how many people consider Machida in their pound for pound rankings, but I think it must be considered.  He is undefeated.  He dominated Tito Ortiz.  I know many people are critical of him, but right now he may be the world’s best light heavyweight.  He certainly fits the bill of being underrated.  Many people do not like him because of his style, but he keeps winning.  Some accuse him of running in fights, but he strikes and moves.  He is very effective.  If he keeps winning he needs to move up lists.  His fight with Thiago Silva at UFC 89 will tell us a lot.  Don’t sleep on Lyoto as a pound for pound top fighter. 

8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Big Nog is the UFC Heavyweight champion.  He has beaten great guys.  He takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.  He has tons of talent and is very well rounded.  Most consider him the #2 or #3 heavyweight and in the midst of Couture’s desire to fight the best in Fedor he has overlooked fighting Nogueira.  In my opinion Randy should have challenged Nogueira for the belt before pulling this cry baby crap with the UFC and pouting because he wanted Fedor.  He could have foguht out his contract against Nogueira and one other guy and then left with no conflict to get the Fedor fight.  He could have fulfilled his contract with no controversy with the UFC.  His legacy is tarnished.  I think Nog would beat Randy.  He has proven himself over and over.  Nogueira is a solid fighter and I look forward to his fight with Mir and his TUF 8 coachind stint. 

Others: Kid Yamamoto, Takanori Gomi, Paulo Filho, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

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What’s Next for Urijah Faber?

One question I want to know the answer to is what is next for “The California Kid” Urijah Faber following his strong performance against Jens Pulver.  Faber is by far the best featherweight in the world.  The question is who is he going to fight next.  He has beaten some good opponents in Jeff Curran and now Jens Pulver.  I think there are a couple of options for Faber. 

1.  He could stay in the featherweight divison of the WEC and keep defending his belt.  There are still a few guys he could beat, but I do not know who can compete with him seriously.  Perhaps Cub Swanson or someone else would make sense, but I don’t think it would be much of a fight.  I just don’t know what else he has to prove in the featherweight divison.  The only talent that can compete with him is not in the WEC.

2. He could move up to lightweight in the WEC.  He is big enough to do it and I think would do well.  I think he would destroy guys liek Rob McCullough or Jamei Varner. 

3.  He could move up to lightweight in the UFC.  He has said he would like to avenge his loss to Tyson Griffin, and Tyson is in the UFC.  That would be an interesting fight, which I suspect will be a reality sooner than later.   I would like to see how Faber would stack up against other UFC lightweights.  I think he would do just fine.  I think he could plow through the Roger Huerta’s of the UFC, but some guys would be tough for him.  A B.J. Penn fight would be a smash hit and huge draw from a marketing stand point, but that isn’t likely yet as Penn will probably next fight the Florian vs. Huerta winner and then move up to fight St. Pierre if he still has the belt. I don’t know the logistics of how it would work, but I look for the Faber vs. Griffin fight to happen and I suspect Faber would have to move up to 155 for one fight at least.  Perhaps by the end of the year the UFC will plan a interpromotional fight card with the WEC.  How would you like to see fights like…Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit, Brian Stann vs. Jackson/Liddell/Wanderlei, Faber vs. Tyson Griffin, Paulo Filho vs. Anderson Silva ??

4. He could do some inter promotional fights with other featherweights.  Perhaps a fight with Kid Yamamoto or another top featherweight. 

Faber is young and still has a lot of fight in him.  I don’t know who else he will fight.  To me Faber defending his belt against some other WEC opponent would be a let down from the huge Pulver fight.  Perhaps a Faber vs. Pulver II is possible, but Faber was so dominant that I cannot see the logic behind that.

Fighting Organizations Rankings

I have ranked the organizations before, but here is the updated rankings of who has the best product.

1. UFC – Still the best of the best.  Has more ranked fighters by far.  Has the most recognizable names in the likes of Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Shogun, Wanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson, Anderson Silva, Rich Franklin, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn.

2. Affliction – By far the best competitive heavyweight divison with Fedor, Tim Sylvia, Aleksander Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, Ben Rothwell, Pedro Rizzo and maybe Arlovski.  Not to mention Lindland, Whitehead and Babalu. 

3. WEC –  The WEC has some star power, but is in the UFC’s shadow majorly.  The growing featherweight divison will help them as will the bantamweight with star Miguel Torres.  Guys like Condit, Stann, Filho and Faber give WEC the name recognition.  WEC still seems to be the minor league UFC.  Their success will not come with the bigger fighters, but with lightweights, featherweights and bantamweights. 

4. EliteXC –  Their CBS deal will help them.  Kimbo can be a star.  They do great partnering with other promotions like Strikeforce and allowing guys to fight in DREAM. 

5. DREAM – DREAM 1-3 have been solid with solid fighters especially lightweights and middleweights. Has guys like Aoki and Ishida as well as Caol Uno and Kwajiri. Has other guys fight for them like Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez, JZ Calvancante, Diaz, Cro Cop, Jason Mayhem Miller, Manhoef, Denis Kang, Mark Hunt, Jacare, Kid Yamamoto, Sakurai and Hansen. 

6. Strikeforce – They have a few good fighters which helps them greatly.  They have Thomson, Le and Melendez

7. World Victory Road –  They don’t have an American appeal, but they do have Gomi and some other solid Japanese fighters.  Also they have Kazuo Misaki, Kevin Randlemen, Jeff Monson, and Nick Thompson

UFC’s Competition

I have been critical of Dana White’ abilitiy to sign the free agents in the MMA world.  I think the bottom line is that Dana is unwilling to bend.  I just heard that Jacare, an excellent jiu-jitsu guy signed with DREAM.  The negotions broke down with the UFC because Dana felt they wanted too much money.  Maybe he is right, but nevertheless Jacare is now in a competitong organization.  Furthermore, it seems the UFC fails to sign top notch fighters especailly Japanese guys like Ishida, Ayoki or Sakurai.  There are other top level fighters that the UFC couldn’t sign.  Worse than that there are several top tier guys I don’t know if the UFC even cares about (Jakes Shields, JZ Calvancante, Gilbert Melendez).  He won’t sign Fedor.  He won’t sign Lindand.  In my opinion UFC will never be a monopoly and has some serious competition. With some of the internal problems and some of the UFC stars upset we could see another organization become the “big dog” in MMA.  In my opinion here is UFC’s biggest competitors.

1. EliteXC.  Dana’s feud with Shaw hasn’t helped.  Shaw is a much more typical commissioner than White.  The CBS deal will bring them in a lot of viewers, but will also help all MMA.  They have some stars in EliteXC (Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Cung Le, Robbie Lawler). They are willing to take chances as seen by the future star Kimbo Slice.  They offered Fedor, and may get him.

2. WEC – I know it is Zuffa owned, but they have some great fighters that the UFC should bring over to the UFC.  I don’t know why you have another organization with top level fighters.  They have some great guys that would translate well anywhere (Paulo Filho, Carlos Condit, Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, Doug Marshall, Brian Stann, Rob McCullough, Jamie Varner, Chael Sonnen, Leonard Garcia and Jens Pulver)

3. DREAM – Not much competition now, but has some good fighters (Sakurai, Cro Cop, Calvancanti, Ishida, Aoki, Denis Kang, Yamamoto, Joachim Hansen, Eddie Alvarez and Mark Hunt).  The American market is next to nothing though.

4. World Victory Road — Josh Barnett and Takanori Gomi enough said.  A few more big names and they have something good.

5. Strikeforce.  Not great competition, but still have a few guys any monopoly would want (Frank Shamrock, Josh Thompson and Gilbert Melendez)

6. ICON.  They have Jason “Mayhem” Miller and a future star in Kala Hose.

 Right now the UFC is doing fine.  They have a few competitors, but they are still the big leagues.  They have the best fighters.  Some divisions they are better than others.  For example at Light Heavyweight they have a near monopoly and at welterweight they are doing pretty well.  There are several key free agents out there (Fedor, Arlovski, Couture).  If EliteXC or someone else picks up the other guys they can really compete.