UFC's Top Dogs In 2010

UFC's Top Dogs In 2010

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Nobody can touch the BJ Penn right now – just ask Diego Sanchez – but contrary to perception, plenty of challengers remain in the mix for a shot at the Prodigy and his title, including one (Kenny Florian) who’d love a second shot and one (Sam Stout) who just entered the picture.

In fact, each division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship is stacked with top contenders. Here’s who we think are on-deck for title shots, why we think they deserve a shot and what they need to do to get it.

HEAVWEIGHT

Champion: Brock Lesnar
Who: Frank Mir, Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Why: Mir and Carwin will square off for the interim belt at UFC 111 while Lesnar recovers from mono and a rumored bout with diverticulitis. Minotauro is a legend who found his Mojo with a decision win over Randy Couture at UFC 102 and deserves one last run at glory – but only if he defeats the unbeaten Velasquez at UFC 110. Dos Santos elevated his stock with an impressive first-round stoppage of PRIDE veteran Gilbert Yvel and is part of a young core of heavyweights that will set the course of the division.

What: Lesnar’s future is the wild card. If he’s cleared to return he defends the title against the interim champion. If not, expect the winner of Nogueira-Velasquez to fight the winner of Mir-Carwin. A Velasquez victory means he’s one more victory over a top contender from securing No. 1 challenger status and Nogueira protege dos Santos would be the perfect opponent.

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Champion: Lyoto Machida
Who: Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, Randy Couture/Mark Coleman

Why: Rua is already booked for a much-deserved rematch with Machida at UFC 113 in Montreal. Evans rebounded from a devastating knockout loss to Machida with a decision win over Thiago Silva at UFC 108, an exciting performance in which he bewildered Silva with head movement and effectively returned to his wrestling roots. “Suga”’s relentless ground attack combined with his speed makes him the next top contender, but not before his long-awaited grudge match with Jackson, which Dana White said could happen as soon as Montreal in May.
Rampage’s falling out with White may make his UFC future bleak even if he defeats Evans. According to his trainers, Jon Jones is on track to be one of the best ever at 205 and he will face former phenom Brandon Vera at UFC Fight Night 21 to determine who moves up the ladder.

What: A win over Rampage and Evans eventually gets his shot at becoming a two-time champion. If Jones wins he puts himself a fight or two from the title but if Randy Couture beats back Mark Coleman at UFC 109 we can expect to see him fight the winner of Machida vs. Rua II.

MIDDLEWEIGHT

Champion: Anderson Silva
Who: Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt, Chael Sonnen, Alan Belcher

Why: The UFC signed former champion Belfort to challenge Silva, which he will do at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. “Nate the Great” is one of the hottest fighters in the game and is probably the most deserving of a rematch with the champ. Since dropping a split decision to Thales Leites due to being docked two points for an illegal slam Marquardt has reeled off three straight wins, each better than the last. He destroyed Martin Kampmann in 82 seconds, lit up Wilson Gouveia with an amazing barrage of strikes and smashed the previously undefeated Demian Maia with one punch in a mere 21 seconds. Next up for Marquardt is Sonnen, who rebounded nicely from his loss to Maia. Belcher lost his UFC 100 fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama but consecutive “Fight of the Night” honors at UFC 100 and for his UFC 107 destruction of Gouveia put him in the conversation.

What: The winner of Marquardt-Sonnen is virtually assured a shot at Silva or Belfort. Belcher is awaiting his next opponent and is on track to becoming a major player and championship material.

WELTERWEIGHT

Champion: Georges St-Pierre
Who: Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, Paul Daley

Why: Like it or not, Hardy is set to face GSP at UFC 111. Daley’s dramatic climb up the rankings continued with his knockout of Dustin Hazelett at UFC 108 and convinced White he’s ready for the division’s top contenders. An injury forced Koscheck out of his rematch with Paulo Thiago, but a potential matchup with Daley will determine the difference between a top contender and one not ready for prime time. Fitch earned a blue-collar win over a game Mike Pierce at UFC 107 and has lost only once in his last 21 fights including a no-contest – to St-Pierre.

What: Koscheck has made no secret that he and not Hardy is the real No. 1 contender. He’s has been on a stunning hot streak, but must stay healthy and prove that he has more for GSP than he showed the first time around. Daley needs face one or two more top dogs while Fitch faces a healing and angry Thiago Alves at UFC 111.

LIGHTWEIGHT

Champion: B.J. Penn
Who: Frankie Edgar, Kenny Florian, Gray Maynard, Sam Stout

Why: Maynard needed to defeat Nate Diaz at UFC Fight Night 20. He did, but in a lackluster performance that did anything but secure his shot at Penn in April. Edgar’s track record is loaded with wins over Sean Sherk, Spencer Fisher, Hermes Franca and Tyson Griffin. It’s no secret that style matters in the UFC and Sam Stout looked good at UFC 108.

What: Florian tested Penn in their UFC 101 bout before fading late, but needs at least a couple more wins to re-establish himself. If he faces and beats former Pride kingpin Takanori Gomi this spring he’ll likely get a second shot at Penn, who will face Edgar at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi. Maynard’s boxing is much improved – if he can finish somebody soon he’ll be next in line. Stout may be inconsistent in the UFC but when he’s on he’s on. If he can string together a couple more impressive wins he puts himself in the conversation.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Just so you all know, Mir is going to be champ again. Making sure all you haters got that straight.

  2. Oh, and Shogun too. Then Lil Nog will fight Shogun for the title and get his revenge. (Oh how I hope this happens.)

  3. You make it sound like Jon Fitch fought to a no-contest with GSP which is not true. He lost a clear 5 round decision.

  4. I definitely think Lil Nog deserves to be in there more than Coleman. And I also think that Alves needs to be in the mix against some of those top contenders so he can destroy them and see who who is really worthy of facing GSP. Hardy has a punchers chance of winning but as soon as it goes to the ground its over. GSP will overwhelm him.

    • Sorry about the name typos – they’re fixed now.

      Chris – You know ‘Lil Nog has a way of staying off people’s radars – ours included, apparently. The UFC has already talked about the winner of Coleman/Couture getting a shot so whether either guy deserves it is moot.

      And to Paul – Hendo left the UFC to sign with Strikeforce so he won’t be fighting Silva anytime soon.

  5. lol lesnar is the beast the ufc needs mir’s win the first time was a fluke lesnar proved that at ufc 100 and he’ll do it again.If you really like mir why would you want that to happen to him again.Also machida will be champ for a long time shogun will not change that.

  6. shane carwin will probly KO mir, nobody can beat anderson silva, GSP, or BJ penn… I think Anderson Silva should bump up a weight class for one fight get a shot at “the dragon”, seeing as theyre both onstoppable in the UFC so far

  7. Mir should be tough to stop. Looking forward to finally seeing Carwin in action again. 1 punch will end it if he gets off on Mir.

    Velasquez will avoid Big Nog’s submissions

    Florian looked much better against Guida. He’s the only one who has any hope of beating BJ. And a good chance too, he is working hard and improving

    GSP is a beast. Dan Hardy is looking good, but GSP is just GSP

    Anderson Silva will put Belfort away as soon as he slips up

  8. shogun is not gonna beat lyoto because if he attacks lyoto and tries to knock him out he will get put away fast he tried to steal away the belt in october he had a good gameplan but i dont think he can take the belt from lyoto…

  9. what about hendo? he should be next ot fight silva. dan henderson should get anoyher crack at silva. this time will be different because he has had a taste of what he can do

  10. I think rumble Johnson should be atleast considered a contender for GSP . Even coming off the loss to Koschek. Rumble ran through everyone else in the division that he faced .. Personally i think him and daley are the only two who offer a legit threat to GSP’s tittle . but thats just my opinion. ufc 112 is going to be AMAZING! Penn vs. Edgar Co-main with Silva vs. Belfort ! Cheers

  11. First of all dustin flynn brock lesnar will be the champ for a very long time frank mir can not handle brock size or strength which was showed in the second fight and even in there first fight brock was destroying frank, frank got a greasy submission that was pure luck i wouldnt be suprised if shane carwin destroys frank mir.

  12. it is true that hendo left the UFC but the only person to take a round from anderson silva, so i think the ufc made a huge mistake letting dan go what a mistake

  13. lesnar will come back bigger and badder than ever if you think he come back any other way youre a fool we have yet to see the best of brock lesnar as far as the machida/rua rematch i see the same even though rua got robbed whether we like it or not when couture beats coleman he gets the next title shot did you guys see what jones did to hamill that is one scary dude he will be champ one day if belfort comes in mentally and physically healthy he has a chance no one and i mean no one has a chance against gsp i guess i could say the same for bj too i thought diego would have shown better i was a little disappointed with his performance 2010 is starting out nice hopefully the champs can stay healthy and give us fans some performances we the fans deserve and pay for………

  14. Cain should be fighting Mir for the Interim Title. Jon Jones, if he keeps it up should be in line for a title shot within his next 2 fights, along with Dos Santos. The winner of Cain-Nog will fight the winner of Mir-Carwin and Dos Santos should get the winner of that if he keeps winning in impressive fassion.

  15. hendo is just going where the money is, strikeforce is a joke and he knows he can be champ

    silva and gsp are unstoppable
    but silva might stop himself and retire.

  16. I think Grey and Sam should fight and the winner fight the champ. It would be great fight for Grey to be tested he juuuusstttt got by Nate in an ok fight but Sam brings it every time and has descent wrestling but last fight boxing and staminia was really good…..

  17. if bj penn beats frankie edgar which he will he will rematch with florian and if he wins that will relinquish the belt and move up to welterweight and fight gsp, and regardless of the decision will retire after the showdown with gsp, anderson silva is another one who is unstoppable at his chosen weight or 185, he will not move up a weight to 205 to fight lyoto machida because the two are freinds and training partners so i can see him having 3 more fights max and then retiring

  18. Brock will destroy carwin or mir!! penn cannot be beat in the lightweight divison, he needs to move up, Silva is a beast, hands down!!! GSP will be beat in 2010

  19. So whatever happened to hendo does he not count first franklin bisping thats not good enough him and nate need to fight winner fights silva than vitor

    • Andrew –

      Henderson signed with Strikeforce so he won’t be competing for any UFC titles anytime soon. Thanks for reading!

  20. haha the beast is back.the heavy weight division is screwed, brock is hungry and it’s almost feeding time long live the champ

  21. heavyweight – Lesnar is coming back and he will be undisputed champ
    lightheavyweight – Shogun will probably beat Machida and if that is the case if Anderson Silva beats Belfort he should get a title at the 205 division. Shogun and Silva aren’t best friends so that fight should definitely happen.
    Neither Couture or especially Coleman deserve a title shot in the 205 division. Coleman is past his prime and would get destroyed by whoever is the champ and Couture needs 2 get some wins in the 205 b4 he gets a shot at the title.
    middleweight – Hendo wasn’t get’n a title shot so i understand y he signed with strikeforce. Marquardt will beat Sonnen and if sonnen wins he souldn’t get a title shot just because of that win, but that won’t happen anyways. Silva and Belfort should be great.
    Welterweight – division is stacked right now so alot of deserving ppl 4 title shot. Diego Sanchez looks to be returning 2 welterweight so he will get into the mix quickly as well.
    lightweight – Ppl think Penn will destroy Edgar but dont count edgar out. he has looked great in his last fights. Grey Maynard and Sam Stout needs wins against top contenders b4 either 1 of them gets a title shot.

  22. In my opinion the only titles that MIGHT change hands in 2010 are the Heavy & Light-Heavy – possably Velasquez & Rua taking the gold.

    Silva & GSP are clearly better than anyone in their respective divisions & BJ Penn is an absolute Juggernaught – there isn’t a Lightweight in the world that won’t look totally average when their in the Octagon with the Prodigy…the guy is pure class – G.O.A.T.

    Hewi
    Newcastle, England

  23. Agreed Dustin, Frank will come back at Brock with more strength and size and will make him tap again. Brock had a good game plan second time round and that was to stop Mir using all his technical abilities but when Mir can near match his strength and have plenty of fight fitness behind him brock will get owned. GO MIR!

  24. All of you have it so bass ackwards…
    Lesnar will stay champ for a while, the only heavyweights who can possibly handle his strength are Mir and carwin and neither have what it takes to de-throne him (lesnar/Mir 1 was a fluke)… Couture will man handle machida or rua. And to all of you who think he doesn’t deserve it yet, news flash: couture has held the heavyweight belt three time and the light heavyweight belt twice, enough said… Silva will destroy anyone in front of him. He’s only got four losses and they’re all from the beginning of his career. The only way he’ll lose is by a lucky punch or a flying scissor heel hook (I’m sure hardly any of you know what that is)… GSP will probably only lose by being knocked out (good luck with that) which eliminates pretty much everyone but kosch and Daley… I don’t see Penn losing his title unless he gasses out because his boxing and jiu jitsu is superior to anyone’s in that division.
    Well it’s been swell ladies, have a great day. 😉

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