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Old 09-04-2007, 07:07 PM
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Default MMA Top 10: Couture, GSP make moves

MMA Top 10: Couture, GSP make moves
By Dave Doyle, Yahoo! Sports
August 30, 2007


Both Top 10 mixed martial artists who competed in August won in impressive fashion.

Randy "The Natural" Couture added to his legacy with another awe-inspiring performance, as he successfully defended his UFC heavyweight title against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 on Aug. 25. Couture beat a fighter 16 years younger and 24 pounds heavier with a third-round TKO, and did so in spite of a fractured arm.

Georges St. Pierre not only beat Josh Koscheck at UFC 74, but also dominated the ground battle against one of MMA's strongest wrestlers en route to a unanimous decision.

So where did they end up in this month's Yahoo! Sports MMA Top 10? Read on.

First, though, a bit of housekeeping: This month, we welcome three new pollsters, bringing our total to 11: Josh Gross of Sherdog.com; Pramit Mohapatra of The Baltimore Sun; and Ken Pishna of MMAWeekly.com. They join Carlos Arias of the Orange County Register, Sam Caplan, who writes an MMA column for CBSSports.com, Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press, Loretta Hunt of The Fight Network, Kevin Iole and I from Yahoo! Sports, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, and Steve Sievert of the Houston Chronicle.

We've also refined the poll on a couple matters through the vote of our writers: First, we've instituted an inactivity clause. If a fighter has not fought in more than one year, he is not eligible for consideration until he competes again. Second, there was a near-unanimous vote regarding fighters suspended for performance-enhancing substances or drugs of abuse. Fighters will not be eligible for the poll during the duration of their penalty.

In the case of UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk, the voters decided by a 6-5 vote to keep him eligible pending the appeal of his steroid test failure, which will be heard in October. While those who did not want Sherk eligible in the interim were passionate in their beliefs, Sherk has vehemently maintained his innocence and those who vote in favor of keeping him eligible for the ballot decided to favor the notion of "innocent until proven guilty."

10. Chuck Liddell
Points: 20
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Record: 20-4
Last month's ranking: 7
2007 results: lost to Quinton Jackson, Round 1 TKO, May 26
Analysis: "The Iceman" took the worst hit of any fighter due to the addition of new voters, as he dropped three spots without doing anything. Liddell is going to have to put in an impressive performance against Keith Jardine on Sept. 22 in order to maintain his place in the rankings.

9. B.J. Penn
Points: 24
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Lightweight/welterweight
Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Record: 11-4-1
Last month's ranking: 8 (tie)
2007 results: def. Jens Pulver, Round 2 TKO, June 23.
Analysis: Penn is slated to get a crack at the lightweight championship at UFC 78 in Newark on Nov. 17. Who his opponent might be on the evening depends on several factors. If Sean Sherk is exonerated in his steroids appeal, Sherk would be defending the 155-lb. belt. If Sherk is stripped of the title, Penn would fight for the vacant crown. Joe Stevenson seems the logical choice in this scenario, but Stevenson suffered a broken jaw in his win over Kurt Pellegrino on Aug. 25.

8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Points: 37
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Heavyweight
Hometown: Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil
Record: 30-4-1
Last month's ranking: 8 (tie)
2007 results: def. Heath Herring, unanimous decision, July 7.
Analysis: Nogueira's name is among those rumored for the next crack at Randy Couture's UFC heavyweight title. Don't expect him to move up or down much in the interim.



7. Randy Couture
Points: 45
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Heavyweight (UFC heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Gresham, Ore.
Record: 16-8
Last month's ranking: 10
2007 results: def. Tim Sylvia, unanimous decision, March 3; def. Gabriel Gonzaga, Round 3 TKO, Aug. 25
Analysis: Against Gonzaga, Couture once again proved himself the smartest man in MMA. "The Natural" took it to his younger foe from the outset, absorbed some sick strikes, and befuddled his foe with a masterful use of the Greco-Roman clinch. Couture vaulted three spots in the poll after his performance.

6. Anderson "Spider" Silva
Points: 48
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Middleweight (UFC middleweight champion)
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 19-4
Last month's ranking: 5
2007 results: def. Travis Lutter, Round 2 TKO, Feb 3; def. Nate Marquardt, Round 1 TKO, July 7
Analysis: Silva has answered every challenge thrown his way since entering the UFC. But he's two months away from one of his biggest tests. On Oct. 20, he'll rematch with Rick Franklin, the guy he won the belt from, in Franklin's hometown of Cincinnati. Can The Spider win when he's basically taking on 18,000 people?


5. Georges St. Pierre
Points: 50
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Welterweight
Hometown: Ste. Isidore, Quebec
Record: 14-2
Last month's ranking:6
2007 results: lost to Matt Serra, Round 1 TKO, April 7; def. Josh Koscheck, decision, Aug. 25
Analysis: St. Pierre left no doubt he's back on track with his 15-minute clinic against Koscheck. GSP likely didn't move up higher because no one above him on the list fought in August.

4. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Points: 56
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight (UFC lt. heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Record: 27-6
Last month's ranking:3
2007 results: def. Marvin Eastman, Round 2 TKO, Feb. 3; def. Chuck Liddell, Round 1 TKO, May 26
Analysis: New voters favored Dan Henderson over "Rampage," causing the two to flip-flop in the standings. The matter of who's better will be settled on Sept. 8 in London.


3. Dan Henderson
Points: 72
Affiliation: PRIDE
Weight class: Light heavyweight (PRIDE lt. heavyweight and middleweight champion)
Hometown: Victorville, Calif.
Record: 22-5
Last month's ranking: 4
2007 results: def. Wanderlei Silva, Round 3 KO, Feb. 24
Analysis: See Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.

2. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Points: 81
Affiliation: UFC
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Hometown: Curitiba, Brazil
Record: 16-2
Last month's ranking: 2
2007 results: def. Alistair Overeem, round 1 KO, Feb. 24
Analysis: Fans who don't know what the fuss is all about will know come Sept. 22, when Shogun takes on Forrest Griffin.

1. Fedor Emelianenko
Points: 110 (11 first-place votes)
Affiliation: PRIDE, BodogFight
Weight class: Heavyweight (PRIDE heavyweight champion)
Hometown: Stary Oskol, Russia
Record: 26-1 (1 no-contest)
Last month's ranking: 1
2007 results: def. Matt Lindland, round 1 submission, April 14
Analysis: Another month has passed without the world's best mixed martial artist stepping into competition. Hardcore fans predictably blame Dana White for the fact Fedor is not yet under UFC contract. But the fact is Fedor's management is just as stubborn as White and there is no good guy or bad guy in this situation.

Votes for others: Gilbert Melendez 12; Matt Hughes 10; Kid Yamamoto 9; Mirko Cro Cop 8; Takanori Gomi 6; Rich Franklin 4; Matt Serra 3; Urijah Faber 2; Wanderlei Silva 2; Sean Sherk 2.

Ranked fighters competing in September: No. 2 Mauricio Rua vs. Forrest Griffin, Sept. 22, Anaheim; No. 3 Dan Henderson vs. No. 4 Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Sept. 8, London; No. 10 Chuck Liddell vs. Keith Jardine, Sept. 22, Anaheim.
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