(Gentlemen, please…you’re *both* wrong.)
The last time I put serious effort into crafting an MMA pound-for-pound list, Anderson Silva had just Jedi’d the shit out of Forrest Griffin at UFC 101, Georges St. Pierre was fresh off his domination of Thiago Alves — on a torn groin, no less — and Fedor Emelianenko had once again proven his invincibility earlier that year, knocking Andrei Arlovski out of mid-air at Day of Reckoning. Unable to rank one fighter over the other with anything close to objectivity, I wrote the following: "Whoever has the most recent awe-inspiring, damn-near-inhuman performance gets to be #1."
A lot has changed since then. In 2010, so far: BJ Penn lost his first match at lightweight in over eight years. Anderson Silva proved that he has no desire to finish fights at his natural weight class. GSP couldn’t put away Dan Hardy in five rounds on a healthy groin. Fedor Emelianenko hasn’t competed at all. Miguel Torres lost his second fight in a row. Lyoto Machida has been sidelined, still waiting for the rematch of a fight he probably should have lost on the scorecards, which effectively put a halt to his "Machida Era" hype.
Yes, I’ll update the very dusty CagePotato Power Rankings soon, you have my word. But coming up with a new set of P4P rankings is a hairy proposition, considering that all of the usual suspects haven’t had any awe-inspiring, damn-near-inhuman performances in a long time.
Following his loss at UFC 112, BJ Penn called Fedor Emelianenko the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and I’m willing to agree with him by default. Who else has the same "deadly in all positions, at all times" quality as the Last Emperor? Well, other than Penn himself, who just lost a fight against a massive underdog. Jose Aldo, maybe? If the Brazilian dynamo can blow through Urijah Faber next week, it definitely puts him in the top echelon of pound-for-pound consideration.
Of course, you could just as easily put GSP at #1, particularly if you were wowed by his shutout of Dan Hardy last month. Rush has been utterly dominant in his weight class, even if he’s not a guaranteed finisher with lethal standup. At this point, I would certainly put him ahead of Anderson Silva, whose performances depend completely on his opponents, and who has seemingly lost interest in everything but flashy striking. Penn’s loss should obviously affect his place on the P4P list, but a part of me wants to give him the benefit of the doubt.
The bottom line is, it’s a very chaotic time for pound-for-pound rankings in MMA, so I felt like opening up a dialogue with the Potato Nation. How do you see the pound-for-pound list right now? Which criteria are most important to you? If Jake Shields manages to get past Dan Henderson tomorrow, does he deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the fighters named above? Shoot us your Top 5 P4P list in the comments section below, or a full Top 10 if you’re feeling particularly ambitious. Remember, there are no wrong answers — though if you rank Frankie Edgar ahead of Fedor, you’ll definitely be testing our patience.