While heavyweight and welterweight carried over intact from March, change was the buzzword in every other division, highlighted by big shifts at middleweight, lightweight, featherweight and the always fun pound-for-pound list.
Stunning upsets. One-sided beatings. Curious efforts. April wasn't boring.
Lightweight carries a new No. 1 after Frankie Edgar outpointed Hawaiian star B.J. Penn. Shinya Aoki, previously-ranked No. 2 at 155, was not only shoved down after Gilbert Melendez molested him, the manner in which the Dream champion lost called into question the credibility of Japanese mixed martial arts. As a result, there wasn't a weight class that underwent more shuffling or inspired rethinking than 155.
Featherweight Jose Aldo, 23, cemented his status atop the 145-pound division with a resounding victory over Urijah Faber. But beneath him, the exciting group was anything but predictable. The race now will be to establish a legitimate No. 2. As it stands, Bibiano Fernandes emerged as next in line, though Manny Gamburyan climbed to close third following his knockout of Mike Thomas Brown.
While middleweight king Anderson Silva hurt himself in the pound-for-pound debate, his odd effort in Abu Dhabi wasn't going to cost him the top spot at 185. Jake Shields, now ranked third, scored the most important win in the class with a five-round decision over Dan Henderson.
At light heavyweight, Gegard Mousasi is out in favor of the man who defeated him, boisterous Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal. Lawal, ninth-ranked Jon Jones, and up-and-comer Phil Davis appear to be three fighters destined to take over the division in the next 12-to-24 months.
For as much as April shook up the divisionals, it's the pound-for-pound space where things really moved.
After yet another uneven performance, Anderson Silva was dropped from his longtime No. 1 perch to third. The best mixed martial artist in the world cannot fight the way Silva did against Demian Maia on April 10. In his place, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre emerged as the sport's top fighter a month after dominating Dan Hardy. Some will argue that the Canadian's inability to finish Hardy should prevent him from overtaking Silva, but look at their caliber of opposition the past two years and it's clear GSP has done better against tougher competition.
Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, a resident of the list for more than seven years, moves up a spot to No. 2. You can question the quality of his opponents in recent years -- I'd argue his past three fights at heavyweight (Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers) were tougher tests than Silva's last three at middleweight (Patrick Cote, Thales Leities, Maia) -- but not how he puts people away. Not only has Emelianenko won, he's done so without ambiguity or disappointment.
Penn's loss to Edgar, as close as it was, knocked him from the stratosphere of the GSP-Fedor-Silva group. In his place is Aldo; it may not be long before the Brazilian skips past everyone to claim the top spot.
Henderson and the admittedly overvalued Aoki have been replaced by Edgar and welterweight Jon Fitch.
1. Fedor Emelianenko (31-1, 1 NC)2. Brock Lesnar (4-1)3. Shane Carwin (12-0)4. Cain Velasquez (8-0)5. Junior dos Santos (11-1)6. Frank Mir (13-5)7. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1, 1 NC)8. Alistair Overeem (32-11, 1 NC)9. Brett Rogers (10-1)10. Andrei Arlovski (15-7)
Others receiving consideration: Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, Cheick Kongo, Josh Barnett, Roy Nelson
1. Lyoto Machida (16-0)2. Mauricio Rua (18-4)3. Rashad Evans (14-1-1)4. Quinton Jackson (30-7)5. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (18-3)6. Anderson Silva (26-4)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, Randy Couture, Luis Arthur Cane, Ryan Bader, Rich Franklin
1. Anderson Silva (26-4)2. Chael Sonnen (24-10-1)3. Jake Shields (25-4-1)4. Nate Marquardt (29-9-2)5. Vitor Belfort (19-8)6. Dan Henderson (25-8)7. Robbie Lawler (17-5, 1 NC)8. Demian Maia (12-2)9. Yushin Okami (24-5)10. Jorge Santiago (22-8)
Others receiving consideration: Mamed Khalidov, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Ronaldo Souza, Wanderlei Silva, Hector Lombard
1. Georges St. Pierre (20-2)2. Jon Fitch (22-3, 1 NC)3. Thiago Alves (16-6)4. Paulo Thiago (13-1)5. Josh Koscheck (14-4)6. Matt Hughes (44-7)7. Nick Diaz (21-7, 1 ND)8. Dan Hardy (23-7, 1 NC)9. Carlos Condit (24-5)10. Paul Daley (23-8-2)
Others receiving consideration: Martin Kampmann, Dan Hornbuckle, Jay Hieron, Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida
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 (19-2)6. Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2)7. Gray Maynard (9-0, 1 NC)8. Sean Sherk (33-4-1)9. Shinya Aoki (23-5, 1 NC)10. Tyson Griffin (14-2)
Others receiving consideration: Josh Thomson, Evan Dunham, Jim Miller, Ben Henderson, George Sotiropoulous
1. Jose Aldo (18-1)2. Bibiano Fernandes (8-2)3. Manny Gamburyan (11-4)4. Mike Thomas Brown (23-6)5. Urijah Faber (23-4)6. Hatsu Hioki (20-4-2)7. Raphael Assuncao (14-2)8. Masanori Kanehara (16-7-5)9. Michihiro Omigawa (9-8-1)10. Marlon Sandro (16-1)
Others receiving consideration: L.C. Davis. Takeshi Inoue, Josh Grispi, Deividas Taurosevicius, Javier Vazquez
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 (15-5)9. Shuichiro Katsumura (11-7-3)10. Masakatsu Ueda (10-1-2)
Others receiving consideration: Eddie Wineland, Charlie Valencia, Cole Escovedo, Wagnney Fabiano, Antonio Banuelos
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 (16-4-6)6. Ryuichi Miki (10-3-3)7. Pat Runez (4-0)8. Kiyotaka Shimizu (5-3-1)9. Mitsuhisa Sunabe (11-6-3)10. Fumihiro Kitahara (8-1-1)
Others receiving consideration: Isao Hirose, Masaaki Sugawara, Alexis Vila, John Dodson, Ayumu Shioda
1. Georges St. Pierre (Canada)2. Fedor Emelianenko (Russia)3. Anderson Silva (Brazil)4. Jose Aldo (Brazil)5. Lyoto Machida (Brazil)6. Dominick Cruz (U.S.)7. Jake Shields (U.S.)8. Frankie Edgar (U.S.)9. B.J. Penn (U.S.)10. Jon Fitch (U.S.)