| WAS @ BAL |
7:05 pm ET
| NYY @ CLE |
7:05 pm ET
| ATL @ NYM |
7:10 pm ET
| PIT @ STL |
7:15 pm ET
| LAA @ TEX |
8:05 pm ET
| DET @ KC |
8:10 pm ET
| MIN @ SEA |
10:10 pm ET
| SD @ LAD |
10:10 pm ET
December 31, 2012, 10:09 PM
One of the biggest changes to occur in the MMA rankings in 2012 happened with just 48 hours remaining in the year as Cain Velasquez regained the UFC heavyweight title with a dominant win over Junior dos Santos at UFC 155. It was arguably Velasquez’s best performance and considering who he was fighting, the win was all the more impressive.
Not only did he reclaim the top spot in the heavyweight division, but he also made a big leap up the pound-for-pound rankings. When he’s healthy and on his game, there may not be any fighter on the planet that can beat him.
Towards the end of the year, there was some major shuffling in the middleweight division. Contenders like Alan Belcher and Tim Boetsch suffered setback losses, while fans finally saw what Hector Lombard is capable of, knocking out Rousimar Palhares in brutal fashion.
Ronda Rousey staked her claim as the top female fighter in 2012, Demetrious Johnson claimed top spot in the flyweight division, and Benson Henderson is now the firm ruler of the lightweight division.
As for Canadians, Georges St-Pierre returned to action in fine form, proving he’s the most well-rounded mixed martial artist in the sport. Other Canadians like Rory MacDonald and TJ Grant cemented their spots at the top of the Canadian rankings.
With these things in mind, here are Sportsnet.ca’s year-end MMA rankings:
1. Georges St-Pierre
He is the most skilled, well-rounded mixed martial artist out there.
2. Anderson Silva
He does things other fighters can’t.
3. Jose Aldo
Almost untouchable in his division.
4. Benson Henderson
He is a stylistic matchup nightmare for all lightweights.
5. Cain Velasquez
He’s as good as anyone in MMA and he’s a champion again.
6. Jon Jones
Overcame adversity in and out of the cage in 2012.
7. Dominick Cruz
Injury problems have plagued him of late.
8. Demetrious Johnson
The fastest fighter in MMA and has skills everywhere.
9. Joseph Benavidez
The best fighter not currently a UFC champion.
10. Junior dos Santos
Has some of the best boxing in MMA and a phenomenal chin. Can he bounce back from first UFC loss?
Honourable mention: Frankie Edgar, Dan Henderson, Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, Nate Marquardt, Rashad Evans
1. Georges St-Pierre
Proved again at UFC 154 why he’s the greatest Canadian in MMA.
2. Rory MacDonald
People need to stop referring to him as a prospect.
3. T.J. Grant
Meets Matt Wiman in January.
4. Ivan Menjivar
Faces Urijah Faber at UFC 157.
5. Mark Bocek
Was outmatched by Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 154.
6. Jordan Mein
Dismantled Forrest Petz with elbows at SFS 7.
7. Claude Patrick
Has been injured but recently earned his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
8. Ryan Jimmo
Has won 17 straight and had a seven-second knockout in his UFC debut.
9. Yves Jabouin
Has won three of his last four fights by decision.
10. Nick Ring
Was not cleared by doctors before UFC 154 due to illness.
Honourable mention: Antonio Carvalho, Mitch Gagnon, Jesse Ronson, Sean Pierson, Sam Stout, John Makdessi
1. Ronda Rousey
The first female UFC champion. Headlines UFC 157.
2. Sarah Kaufman
Could soon make her way to the UFC.
3. Miesha Tate
Submitted Julie Kedzie in a Fight of the Year candidate.
4. Sara McMann
Is unbeaten, impressive and improving.
5. Jessica Aguilar
Has won nine of ten fights.
6. Jessica Penne
Became Invicta FC atomweight champion in October.
7. Marloes Coenen
Submitted Fiona Muxlow at DREAM 18.
8. Megumi Fujii
Coming off second career loss.
9. Jessica Eye
Choked Gurgel unconscious at Bellator 83.
10. Zoila Gurgel
Coming off submission loss to Eye.
Honourable mention: Liz Carmouche, Alexis Davis, Tara LaRosa, Amanda Nunes, Shayna Baszler, Germaine de Randamie, Julie Kedzie, Ayaka Hamasaki
Note: Cristiane (Cyborg) Santos is not on the list due to her failed drug test and subsequent one-year suspension.
1. Cain Velasquez
Redeemed himself and won his title back from JDS.
2. Junior dos Santos
Got caught early and never recovered at UFC 155.
3. Fabricio Werdum
Will coach TUF Brazil 2 against Big Nog.
4. Daniel Cormier
Faces Dion Staring in January.
5. Alistair Overeem
Wanted a title shot but gets Bigfoot instead.
6. Antonio Silva
Nearly decapitated Travis Browne, now looks to do the same to Overeem.
7. Shane Carwin
Knee injury forced him out of TUF 16 finale bout vs. Big Country.
8. Frank Mir
Recovering from some injuries. Will be back in 2013.
9. Roy Nelson
KO’d Matt Mitrione after Carwin pulled out.
10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Not the same Big Nog as years past but will give Werdum a test.
Honourable mention: Travis Browne, Stefan Struve, Josh Barnett, Ben Rothwell, Stipe Miocic
1. Jon Jones
Will defend his belt against Chael Sonnen after stint as TUF 17 coach.
2. Rashad Evans
Returns against Lil Nog in February.
3. Dan Henderson
Luckily didn’t need surgery on his injured knee, meets Machida next.
4. Lyoto Machida
Takes on Hendo at UFC 157.
5. Phil Davis
Was to face Forrest Griffin at UFC 155 but Griffin pulled out.
6. Alexander Gustafsson
Topped Shogun by unanimous decision, nearing title shot.
7. Glover Teixeira
Pulverized Fabio Maldonado at UFC 153, faces Rampage on FOX in January.
8. Mauricio Rua
Was outdueled by Gustafsson on prime time TV.
9. Ryan Bader
Will fight Vladimir Matyushenko on Jan. 26.
10. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Back from injury to fight Evans in early 2013.
Honourable mention: Thiago Silva, Quinton Jackson, Gegard Mousasi
1. Anderson Silva
Fights on another frequency than most in the UFC.
2. Michael Bisping
Guaranteed title shot with win over Belfort in January.
3. Hector Lombard
We saw the real Lombard with his KO of Rousimar Palhares.
4. Chris Weidman
Recovering from shoulder surgery.
5. Vitor Belfort
Fighting in home country against Bisping.
6. Luke Rockhold
Recovering from injury but will return in 2013.
7. Ronaldo Souza
Meets Lorenz Larkin in January.
8. Yushin Okami
Outmuscled Belcher at UFC 155.
9. Alan Belcher
Was held down by Okami and couldn’t do anything about it.
10. Constantinos Philippou
Still improving but win over Boetsch was big.
Honourable mention: Tim Boetsch, Brian Stann, Rousimar Palhares
Note: Chael Sonnen was No. 2 but has since moved up to the 205-pound division.
1. Georges St-Pierre
Meets Diaz at UFC 158 in Montreal.
2. Carlos Condit
Looking to beat MacDonald for a second time.
3. Nick Diaz
Gets his chance against GSP in enemy territory.
4. Nate Marquardt
The Strikeforce champion meets Tarec Saffiedine in January.
5. Johny Hendricks
Planked Kampmann at UFC 154. Gets Ellenberger next.
6. Rory MacDonald
Battered BJ Penn on FOX and got desired rematch Condit.
7. Demian Maia
Faces Fitch at UFC 156.
8. Jon Fitch
He impressed at UFC 153 and fights Maia next.
9. Martin Kampmann
Got caught by a perfect Hendricks punch.
10. Jake Ellenberger
Looks to regain contender status with win over Hendricks.
Honourable mention: Mike Pierce, Dong Hyun Kim, Josh Koscheck, Thiago Alves, Erick Silva, Mike Pyle
1. Benson Henderson
On his way to becoming the most dominant lightweight in UFC history.
2. Nate Diaz
Dominated by Bendo but showed his toughness.
3. Gilbert Melendez
The UFC is next for the Strikeforce champ.
4. Gray Maynard
Injury forced him out of a UFC 155 bout with Joe Lauzon.
5. Anthony Pettis
A bout with Cerrone is set for January.
6. Donald Cerrone
Doesn’t like Pettis and will have the chance to settle the score.
7. Michael Chandler
Defends his title against Rick Hawn at Bellator 85.
8. Jim Miller
Steps in for Maynard against J-Lau.
9. Eddie Alvarez
Being courted by the UFC. Knocked out Patricky Freire at Bellator 76 with spectacular head-kick.
10. Rafael dos Anjos
On a good streak and coming off big win over Mark Bocek.
Honourable mention: Joe Lauzon, Jamie Varner, TJ Grant, Matt Wiman, Evan Dunham, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Gleison Tibau, Shinya Aoki
1. Jose Aldo
Headlines UFC 156 against Edgar.
2. Pat Curran
Defends belt against Patricio Freire at Bellator 85.
3. Chad Mendes
KO’d Yaotzin Meza with ease at UFC on FX 6.
4. Eric Koch
Title bout with Aldo fell apart several times. Now fights Lamas.
5. Chan Sung Jung
Closing in on a title shot.
6. Ricardo Lamas
A win over Koch could get him a title shot.
7. Dustin Poirier
Submitted TUF winner Jonathan Brookins his last time out.
8. Frankie Edgar
Got an immediate title shot when he made the drop to 145.
9. Cub Swanson
Meets Siver in London in February.
10. Dennis Siver
Looks to remain unbeaten at 145 against Swanson.
Honourable mention: Diego Nunes, Hatsu Hioki, Nik Lentz, Rani Yahya, Hacran Dias, Darren Elkins, Tatsuya Kawajiri
1. Dominick Cruz
His return was pushed back after a setback in his knee’s rehab.
2. Renan Barao
Will defend interim belt against McDonald in February.
3. Urijah Faber
Takes on Menjivar at UFC 157.
4. Brian Bowles
Only career losses to Cruz and Faber.
5. Michael McDonald
Will fight Barao for interim strap.
6. Eddie Wineland
His striking was on point against Pickett.
7. Brad Pickett
Was a half step behind Wineland at UFC 155.
8. Ivan Menjivar
Performed brilliantly at UFC 154. Faber is next
9. Bibiano Fernandes
Finished the year by choking Yoshiro Maeda unconscious at DREAM 18.
10. Scott Jorgensen
Earned Submission and Fight of the Night at UFC on FOX 5.
Honourable mention: Raphael Assuncao, Mike Easton, Eduardo Dantas, Takeya Mizugaki, Erik Perez
1. Demetrious Johnson
His first title challanger will be Dodson.
2. Joseph Benavidez
Heartbroken after close, split decision loss to Mighty Mouse.
3. Ian McCall
Currently dealing with some legal troubles.
4. John Dodson
Can he go from TUF champ to UFC champ?
5. Jussier da Silva
Was unsuccessful in his UFC debut.
6. John Moraga
2-0 in the UFC with two great stoppages.
7. Darren Uyenoyama
Has possibly the most dangerous ground game in the division.
8. Darrell Montague
Only loss at flyweight was to McCall.
9. Tim Elliott
Has won nine of his last 10.
10. John Lineker
Looked great against Yasuhiro Urushitani in Macau.
Honourable mention: Chris Cariaso, Ulysses Gomez, Jose Maria Tome, Louis Gaudinot, Mamoru Yamaguchi, Rambaa Somdet, Yasuhiro Urushitani
MMA rankings are subjective, and ultimately have no real bearing on how fights should or do play out, but they inevitably get fans talking about the sport and its best fighters. Send your thoughts and arguments to @MikeyJ_MMA.