(Weirdest part is, the Portuguese language doesn’t even have a phrase that means “dress shoes.”)
Just one of the many, many problems inherent in ranking MMA’s top “pound-for-pound” fighters – aside from the obvious fact these lists are 100 percent fantasy-based and therefore flatly ridiculous to begin with — is that a lot of people can’t even agree what the phrase “pound-for-pound” actually means. Does it simply provide a method for comparing the best fighters in the world across different classes? Does it purport to measure a fighter’s dominance relative to his size? Does it envision a bizzaro world where everyone is the same height and weight? And if so, does a 135-pound Fedor Emelianenko still have that ribbon of fat around his gut? Fuck if we know.
Fact is, pound-for-pound lists are really just a study in speculative fiction. Rather than trying to rank a bunch of fighters who will never actually fight we’d probably be better off writing a sprawling, dystopian novel presupposing that the Nazis won WWII, Custer didn’t die at the Little Bighorn and that during the summer of 1985 a 27-year-old Dan Severn accidentally stepped on a butterfly during his morning jog through Ann Arbor, setting off a chain reaction that caused Jon Jones never to be born at all. I guess what we’re trying to say is, things are about to get real theoretical up in this bitch. Like, comically subjective and shit.
Still, even if we can’t claim to know exactly what these rankings are trying to achieve, we do know one thing: Our carefully cultivated demographic information tells us you motherfuckers loves you some lists. And in that, we must oblige …
1. Anderson Silva: All the easy analogies have been beaten to death, so what can you really say about Anderson Silva except that he’s a lion playing among wildebeests? It’s not just athleticism, aptitude, and creativity — Silva possesses the kind of extra-dimensional vision usually reserved for deaf composers and chess savants. When it comes to fighting, he can do literally anything.
2. Georges St. Pierre: Let’s be frank — GSP’s technical perfection is not always a thrill to watch, and his five-rounder against Jake Shields nearly ruined UFC 129. But the level of dominance he’s displayed against the UFC’s welterweight elite over the last four years has been astounding. You have to give it up for a guy who can take the fight wherever he wants it to go, 100 percent of the time.
3. Jose Aldo: I actually liked seeing Aldo get beat up a little bit by Mark Hominick; adversity is what makes a legend. Now that he’s survived that test, I have no doubt he’ll resume his slash-and-burn through the contender list at 145, starting with Chad Mendes, then (fingers crossed) moving on to Kenny Florian.
4. Jon Jones: The present and the future of MMA. His performances are already as impressively superhuman as Anderson Silva’s. All he needs is the title reign — and maybe, one day, a run at heavyweight.
5. Dominick Cruz: A complete and uniquely talented champion who has left some of the best bantamweights in the sport licking their wounds and scratching their heads. A win over Urijah Faber at UFC 132 in July would finally get him over with casual fans, while avenging his only loss in 18 fights.
1. Jon Jones: Jonny Bones is 23 years old, has had fewer than 10 fights in the UFC, isn’t even done physically maturing yet and already, nobody in the world wants to fight him. That includes at least one guy on this list and that’s good enough for me.
2. Georges St. Pierre: All St. Pierre has done during the last three and a half years is outthink, outperform and outclass every opponent the UFC could find to put in the cage with him. Is it his fault he competes in the only sport in the world where that’s not good enough for some people?
3. Anderson Silva: Silva is so good that half the time it looks like he’s not even really trying. I guess that’s a problem for everybody not named Anderson Silva.
4. Dominick Cruz: One of the most elusive and unorthodox fighters in the sport, Cruz must be a nightmare to prepare for. Just 25 years old, as long as his body doesn’t come apart on him, he could be champ for a while.
5. Jose Aldo: Aldo may have shown his mettle in gutting one out over Hominick, but he didn’t exactly come away looking like a pound-for-pound great. I’m willing to chalk it up to sickness for now, but I’ll need to see a return to form if I’m going to justify keeping him on this list at the expense of guys like Frankie Edgar, Gilbert Melendez and Cain Velasquez next time. Wait, we are going to do this again at some point … right?
1. Anderson Silva: Besides the four round spanking he received from Chael Sonnen last year, no opponent has been able to touch “The Spider” the past few years. He’s the reason Georges St. Pierre is reluctant to move up to 185 and why Jon Jones will likely change his tune about fighting friends if Silva decides to move up to light heavyweight.
2. Georges St-Pierre: His only loss of the past six years came at the hands of Matt Serra, who loses 9.995 times out of 10 to GSP under normal circumstances. The problem is, the loss made him revert to a more careful (read, boring) style that has turned many fans off of watching his fights. It’s tough to argue against him being on this list, as he is as dominant a fighter as you’ll find, but if this was the top most exciting fighters in the game he would be somewhere at the bottom, ahead of Jake Shields and Jon Fitch.
3. Jon Jones: Another few wins over top competition could move Jones ahead of St-Pierre on the list, but considering that the UFC’s light heavyweight strap is becoming as cursed as its heavyweight one (in the past nine championship bouts it has been won by seven different men), the odds of him remaining champion are stacked against him.
4. Jose Aldo: Some people think that Aldo’s hard-fought win over Hominick should drop him in the pound-for-pound rankings. I think it should elevate Hominick up a few slots. The fight proved that Aldo can fight through adversity to win and although he didn’t look dominant in doing it, the same can also be said for the top two on this list at times during their respective careers.
5. Frankie Edgar: If Edgar can definitively beat Gray Maynard in their rubber match, nobody will argue that he deserves to be on this list. If he wins, I’d like to see him take on Gilbert Melendez next, as I think “El Nino” could shake things up a bit in the UFC’s lightweight class and in these rankings.
Honorable mentions: Gilbert Melendez, Cain Velasquez, Dominick Cruz, Nick Diaz.