Well, it's that time of the month -- Yahoo Sports published its most recent MMA Top 10 poll and I was a member of the panel. Click here to see what the panel came up with, but read on if you would like to see the ballot I submitted. While I won't explain every choice (because let's be honest, a lot of this is based on personal opinion), I will give you some of my personal guidelines in coming up with this ballot. It's a work in progress and I welcome any debate and input you may have in helping me refine my ballot in future polls.
First, here are the rankings I submitted:
1) Quinton Jackson
2) Randy Couture
3) Fedor Emelianenko
4) Dan Henderson
5) Anderson Silva
6) Georges St. Pierre
7) Robbie Lawler
8) BJ Penn
9) Urijah Faber
10) Paulo Filho
Before you rush to judgment, let me first explain my criteria. 1) You have to be fighting actively on a regular basis. 2) You have to be fighting the toughest competition. 3) You can't fail a drug test or be in the process of appealing a failed drug test. 4) You have be winning in impressive fashion and show explosiveness and hints of all-around skill.
A number of you may be in shock right now because I dared to place "The Russian Experiment" third. But, basically he falls short in a number of my criteria. For one thing, a look at his resume the last couple of years really only shows one impressive victory -- his win over Mark Hunt last December. This year, he defeated Matt Lindland, who is two weight classes below him and hasn't fought any other MMA matches. Quite frankly, if Emelianenko wants to move up my rankings, he needs to sign with the best heavyweight division in the world and fight the top guys there. Yes, I'm saying he needs to sign with UFC and start fighting soon. Otherwise, he will continue to slide in my rankings. This poll is about who the best fighters are right now and legacy can only take you so far.
Others may note that lightweight sensation Gilbert Melendez isn't on my ballot either (though he did end up on the overall top 10.) Again, Melendez hasn't fought all year. Tonight is his first fight (at Strikeforce at the Mansion) and with an impressive victory, he can definitely move into my top 10.
The middleweight division is the most dispersed of all the weight classes, and thus I have three champions representing three different leagues in the top 10 (Silva, Filho and Lawler.) And, if Frank Shamrock comes back and fights well, he would also be in contention for a spot in the top 10.
And, at 145 lbs, Urijah Faber may be the definition of pound-for-pound.
I gave Quinton Jackson and Randy Couture the edge for being the champions in the two toughest divisions in all of MMA (possibly in the history of the sport) and for successfully defending their titles.
Let me know what your ballot would look like.
Strikeforce is holding a great event in conjunction with BodogFight tonight at the Playboy Mansion. Which is why, as a married man, I'll be watching the event much like the rest of you from the comfort of my own home. The card features a number of top fighters including the aforementioned Melendez, Josh Thomson, Joe Riggs and Bobby Southworth.
MMA Madness' Leland Rolling breaks down the card here.
You can watch the event on the Internet live beginning at 12 AM EST/9 PM PST tonight over at Yahoo Sports.
Maybe Strikeforce's next event will be at Chuck E. Cheese. I'll definitely be there live for that one. And, you can rest assured that I'll be bringing home a stuffed animal from that event.