FIGHT! Rankings: Silva Retains Belt & #1 Ranking, "Bones," "Money," & "Mighty Mouse" Enter Top 5 After UFC 126
(Silva did his part to make a fight with GSP happen.)
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UFC 126 was crazy stacked. Six months ago this card would have been a solid UFC pay-per-view and an awesome WEC show on Versus. Now, with the promotions merged we get one event where two all-time greats fight with the UFC Middleweight Championship on the line, four top-15 Light Heavyweights jockey for position behind the top 205ers, a top-20 Lightweight makes his promotional debut, two top-10 Featherweights vie for title contention (on the undercard, no less) and four top-25 Bantamweights throw down. Check out the full results here and read on to find out how the night’s fights affected our rankings.
In the main event, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva danced just enough to make Dana White sweat but finished Vitor Belfort with brutal efficiency as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Silva retained his #1 spot in FIGHT!’s Middleweight Rankings and extended his lead over #2 Middleweight Yushin Okami. Silva now enjoys the largest point margin of any #1 fighter in our rankings. Belfort loses a bit of his value but holds on at #5.
Ryan Bader represented Jon “Bones” Jones‘ stiffest test yet but the 205-pound phenom breezed through the fight, finishing Bader via submission in round two after controlling the pace and flow of the entire fight. Jones moves from #8 to #4 in the Light Heavyweight Rankings, while Bader falls from #7 to #17. After the fight, Joe Rogan announced that Rashad Evans injured his knee in training and that Jones would take his spot opposite “Shogun” Rua in a UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout at UFC 128 in New Jersey.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin started grinding his way back into title contention with a unanimous decision win over former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin. Griffin gains one spot, moving from #10 to #9, while Franklin actually gains a spot, from #14 to #13, likely benefiting from Bader’s fall out of the top 10. In the night’s other bout contested at 205 pounds, Kyle Kingsbury climbed from #30 to #21 following his dominant win over unranked Ricardo Romero.
In the main card’s opening fight, former WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres did nothing to hurt himself but he didn’t improve his standing in the division by out-pointing Antonio Banuelos. Torres sits tight at #10 in the Bantamweight Rankings, while Banuelos slips one spot, from #25 to #26. In a bout that may have more immediate title implications, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson extinguished Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto‘s fire, taking a decision victory and moving from #6 to #3 in the 135-pound poll. Yamamoto, who previously competed at 145 pounds, came into the fight ranked #9 in our Featherweight Rankings. Following his loss to Johnson, Yamamoto has been reassigned and installed as the #12-ranked Bantamweight.
Yamamoto wasn’t the only Japanese import on the card as one-time UFC Lightweight Michihiro Omigawa returned to compete as a featherweight but was bested by Team Alpha Male’s Chad Mendes. Omigawa, who found new life at 145 pounds and rose to #4 in FIGHT!’s Featherweight Rankings) falls to #8 with the loss, while Mendes climbes from #6 to #4.
Welterweight prospect Jake Ellenberger actually lost ground in the Welterweight Rankings following his split decision win over unranked Carlos Eduardo Rocha. Ellenberger came into the fight ranked #10 but slipped to #22. Also at 170 pounds, Mike Pierce climbed from #41 to #37 in the Welterweight Rankings following his stoppage win over unranked Kenny Robertson.
At 155 pounds, perennial WEC Lightweight Championship contender Donald Cerrone stepped into the Octagon for the first time against a game Paul Kelly. Cerrone submitted Kelly, climbing from #18 to #14 in FIGHT!’s Lightweight Rankings. Kelly falls from #53 to #67 with the loss. In the night’s only other lightweight fight, Kelly’s fellow Brit Paul Taylor cracked Gabe Ruediger with a head kick, putting “Godzilla” to sleep earlier than he’d planned. Taylor moves from #71 to #52 in the Lightweight poll with the win, while Reudiger falls from #118 to #156.
Check back later today for a full gallery of FIGHT! photographer Paul Thatcher’s best shots from the night.