Josh Gross
Wednesday July 7th, 2010

For the first time in seven years, mixed martial arts' top-ranked heavyweight is not named Fedor Emelianenko. Mark that down as one of several "firsts" associated with SI.com's MMA rankings midway through 2010.

In no particular order:

• Zuffa, the parent company for UFC and WEC, now promotes the No. 1 fighter in seven weight classes -- the lone exception being flyweight, which isn't included among the divisions featured by the Las Vegas-based powerhouse. Emelianenko, 33, was the lone hold out before tapping June 26 to Fabricio Werdum. In his place steps UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, who willed his way to victory July 3 with a second-round submission against Shane Carwin.

• For the first time since Mark Coleman captured the Pride Grand Prix 2000, an American is considered the best big man in the sport. That won't change through 2010; Lesnar is slated to take on Arizona's Cain Velasquez next.

• There's long been an argument about whether or not heavyweights deserve a place at the P4P table. Emelianenko was, for the most part, considered a Top 3 fighter in the world regardless of weight after dismantling Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in '03 to capture the Pride heavyweight title. There he remained, on my list at least, for two reasons: dominance against his peers, and the level of skill he used while surviving unbeaten over 28 fights. Undersized and expertly skilled is a solid formula to gain and hold a place among the 10 best fighters in the world regardless of weight. Of course, losing the way he did to Werdum (a 69-second loss via triangle choke) unquestionably drops Emelianenko from the rankings. Where we've seen other P4P fighters lose this year and remain in the high-rent fraternity -- B.J. Penn to Frankie Edgar; Lyoto Machida to Mauricio Rua -- there isn't any logical way for Emelianenko to remain simply because Werdum doesn't deserve the recognition. And neither does the gigantic Lesnar, who seems to be the antithesis of what "pound-for-pound" signifies. I can't think of any fighter more reliant upon his size and strength. Of course, should he pull off a couple more finishes against Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos -- particularly if they come with the kind of technique that forced Carwin to quit -- it would be worth reexamining.

• When Jake Shields inevitably signs with the UFC, Zuffa will own 90 percent of SI.com's pound-for-pound space. The lone holdout: third-ranked lightweight, Strikeforce champion, Gilbert Melendez, who joins the list after Emelianenko's departure. Lightweight is the only division featuring three fighters on the P4P list.

• I won't go so far as to suggest this the first time I had a tough time piecing together a division, but I can definitively say this is the first edition that it felt nearly impossible to accurately rank welterweight. One through three is easy. Georges St. Pierre is dominant. Jon Fitch hasn't lost to anyone but the 28-year-old Canadian champion in eight years. And Thiago Alves solidified the third spot a long time ago. But from four to 10, it's u-g-l-y. Why? Parity. Fighter A has a solid win against Fighter B, who defeated Fighter C. What then? Well, Fighter C beats Fighter A and the whole thing comes tumbling down. Take Martin Kampmann (17-3), Paulo Thiago (13-2) and Josh Koscheck (15-4). Kampmann jumped up to No. 4 after a dominating decision win against the similarly ranked Thiago, who knocked out Koscheck last year. Makes sense. Yet things get particularly muddled because Kampmann was knocked out in 2009 by Paul Daley (ranked No. 10). And Daley just happened to drop his last fight on points to Koscheck. Fun.

• Three 1-vs.-2 bouts are scheduled between Aug. 7 and Aug. 28. That's quite a stretch. Anderson Silva's UFC middleweight title is at peril against Chael Sonnen on Aug. 7 in Oakland. WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will attempt to defend his belt against Joseph Benavidez on Aug. 18 in Las Vegas. And Frankie Edgar gets the chance to prove his win over B.J. Penn last April wasn't a fluke, when the UFC lightweight title is up for grabs in Boston on Aug. 28.

Heavyweight 1. Brock Lesnar (5-1) 2. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1) 3. Fedor Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC) 4. Cain Velasquez (8-0) 5. Shane Carwin (12-1) 6. Junior dos Santos (11-1) 7. Frank Mir (13-5) 8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1, 1 NC) 9. Alistair Overeem (32-11, 1 NC) 10. Antonio Silva (14-2)

Others receiving consideration: Cheick Kongo, Brett Rogers, Andrei Arlovski, Roy Nelson, Josh Barnett

Light Heavyweight 1. Mauricio Rua (19-4) 2. Lyoto Machida (16-1) 3. Rashad Evans (15-1-1) 4. Quinton Jackson (30-8) 5. Anderson Silva (26-4) 6. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-3) 7. Forrest Griffin (17-6) 8. Thiago Silva (14-2) 9. Jon Jones (11-1) 10. Muhammed Lawal (7-0)

Others receiving consideration: Gegard Mousasi, Rich Franklin, Randy Couture, Ryan Bader, Renato Sobral

Middleweight 1. Anderson Silva (26-4) 2. Chael Sonnen (24-10-1) 3. Jake Shields (25-4-1) 4. Nate Marquardt (29-9-2) 5. Dan Henderson (25-8) 6. Vitor Belfort (19-8) 7. Demian Maia (12-2) 8. Yushin Okami (24-5) 9. Robbie Lawler (17-6, 1 NC) 10. Jorge Santiago (22-8)

Others receiving consideration: Ronaldo Souza, Wanderlei Silva, Hector Lombard, Chris Leben, Michael Bisping

Welterweight 1. Georges St. Pierre (20-2) 2. Jon Fitch (22-3, 1 NC) 3. Thiago Alves (16-6) 4. Martin Kampmann (17-3) 5. Paulo Thiago (13-2) 6. Josh Koscheck (15-4) 7. Nick Diaz (22-7, 1 ND) 8. Matt Hughes (44-7) 9. Dan Hardy (23-7, 1 NC) 10. Paul Daley (23-8-3)

Others receiving consideration: Carlos Condit, Jay Hieron, Matt Serra, Ben Askren, John Hathaway

Lightweight 1. Frankie Edgar (12-1) 2. B.J. Penn (15-6-1) 3. Gilbert Melendez (18-2) 4. Kenny Florian (13-4) 5. Eddie Alvarez (20-2) 6. Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2) 7. Gray Maynard (9-0, 1 NC) 8. Shinya Aoki (23-5, 1 NC) 9. Evan Dunham (11-0) 10. John Thomson (17-3)

Others receiving consideration: Tyson Griffin, Jim Miller, Ben Henderson, George Sotiropoulous, Mizuto Hiroka

Featherweight 1. Jose Aldo (17-1) 2. Bibiano Fernandes (8-2) 3. Manny Gamburyan (11-4) 4. Mike Thomas Brown (23-6) 5. Urijah Faber (23-4) 6. Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) 7. Marlon Sandro (17-1) 8. Michihiro Omigawa (10-8-1) 9. Josh Grispi (14-1) 10. Joe Warren (5-1)

Others receiving consideration: L.C. Davis, Diego Nunes, Raphael Assuncao, Joe Soto, Masanori Kanehara

Bantamweight 1. Dominick Cruz (15-1) 2. Joseph Benavidez (12-1) 3. Brian Bowles (8-1) 4. Miguel Torres (37-3) 5. Scott Jorgensen (10-3) 6. Takeya Mizugaki (13-4-2) 7. Damacio Page (15-4) 8. Rani Yahya (15-6) 9. Masakatsu Ueda (11-1-2) 10. Shuichiro Katsumura (11-7-3)

Others receiving consideration: Eddie Wineland, Charlie Valencia, Cole Escovedo, Wagnney Fabiano, Antonio Banuelos

Flyweight 1. Jussier da Silva (3-0) 2. Shinichi Kojima (10-4-5) 3. Mamoru Yamaguchi (23-5-3) 4. Yuki Shojo (10-5-2) 5. Yasuhiro Urushitani (17-4-6) 6. Ryuichi Miki (10-4-3) 7. Kiyotaka Shimizu (6-3-1) 8. Pat Runez (4-0) 9. Mitsuhisa Sunabe (12-6-3) 10. Alexis Vila (8-0)

Others receiving consideration: Fumihiro Kitahara, John Dodson, Alexandre Pantajo, Isao Hirose, Jessie Riggleman

Pound-for-pound 1. Georges St. Pierre (Canada) 2. Anderson Silva (Brazil) 3. Jose Aldo (Brazil) 4. Mauricio Rua (Brazil) 5. Dominick Cruz (U.S.) 6. Jake Shields (U.S.) 7. Frankie Edgar (U.S.) 8. B.J. Penn (U.S.) 9. Lyoto Machida (Brazil) 10. Gilbert Melendez (U.S.)

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