Sportsnet.ca’s 2012 year-end MMA rankings

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:

Jump to: Pound-for-pound | Canadians | Women

Jump to: Heavyweight | Light heavyweight | Middleweight | Welterweight

Jump to: Lightweight | Featherweight | Bantamweight | Flyweight

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.

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