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L.A. Times March MMA Rankings

March 21, 2011 |  1:59 pm

Photo: Mixed martial artist Cain Velasquez. Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Studio 54 Heavyweight

1. Cain Velasquez

2. Junior Dos Santos

3. Fabricio Werdum

4. Brock Lesnar

5. Alistair Overeem

6. Antonio Silva

7. Shane Carwin

8. Fedor Emelianenko

9. Frank Mir

10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

With the UFC's parent company purchasing Strikeforce, the potential is there to finally clear up a long cloudy heavyweight picture with fighters divided between the UFC and non-UFC camps. The new season of the Ultimate Fighter featuring Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar begins on March 30. It is likely to be one of the highest rated seasons of the show.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Rashad Evans

3. Lyoto Machida

4. Quinton Jackson

5. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua

6. Forrest Griffin

7. Dan Henderson

8. Gegard Mousasi

9. Thiago Silva

10. Rich Franklin

Lost in the discussion of Jon Jones' tremendous performance in winning the UFC light heavyweight title was how bad Mauricio Rua looked in the same fight. Rua, coming off another knee surgery and 10 months off, appeared gassed halfway through the first round. For the remainder of the fight, he mostly dove for desperation leg locks and threw lazy overhands. Jon Jones is an exceptional talent, but there are a lot of fighters on this list that could have defeated the Shogun that showed up Saturday night. Dan Henderson moves up following a knockout victory over Rafael Feijao for the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.

Middleweight

1. Anderson Silva

2. Chael Sonnen

3. Yushin Okami

4. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza

5. Nate Marquardt

6. Demian Maia

7. Michael Bisping

8. Hector Lombard

9. Jorge Santiago

10. Vitor Belfort

Michael Bisping generated a firestorm of criticism with his performance against Jorge Rivera in Australia. Bisping threw a flagrant illegal knee to Rivera's head during the bout. Then, after the bout, he got in Rivera's face to badmouth his defeated opponent and proceeded to spit at Rivera's corner. It was very hard to defend the often unfairly maligned Brit after that performance. Nate Marquardt defeated a game Dan Miller at UFC 128 but remains on the outside looking in at the immediate UFC middleweight title picture.

Welterweight

1. Georges St. Pierre

2. Jon Fitch

3. Jake Shields

4. Nick Diaz

5. Thiago Alves

6. Josh Koscheck

7. B.J. Penn

8. Martin Kampmann

9. Carlos Condit

10. Paul Daley

It was a month of questionable judging in the welterweight division. B.J. Penn and Jon Fitch fought to a draw in a bout most (including Penn) felt Fitch won. But even worse was the judging of Martin Kampmann vs. Diego Sanchez. Kampmann's stock doesn't go down following a decision loss to Sanchez. The judges in that fight valued moving forward over volume of strikes, accuracy of strikes and damage.

Lightweight

1. Frank Edgar

2. Gray Maynard

3. Gilbert Melendez

4. Eddie Alvarez

5. Jim Miller

6. Kenny Florian

7. Tatsuya Kawajiri

8. Shinya Aoki

9. Anthony Pettis

10. Melvin Guillard

Jim Miller can no longer be denied. He recorded his seventh consecutive victory and has only one loss in the UFC, that to top contender Gray Maynard. Miller is the fighter most deserving of the next title shot following Maynard-Edgar III. George Sotiropoulos drops from the rankings following a loss to Dennis Siver and Melvin Guillard moves into the tenth slot.

Featherweight

1. Jose Aldo

2. Chad Mendes

3. Diego Nunes

4. Hatsu Hioki

5. Dustin Poirier

6. Michihiro Omigawa

7. Bibiano Fernandes

8. Mark Hominick

9. Joe Warren

10. Marlon Sandro

It was an inactive month for the top fighters in the featherweight division. In April, Jose Aldo will defend his UFC featherweight title against Mark Hominick. Until then, Bellator is running a compelling featherweight tournament featuring the likes of Wilson Reis and Patricio "Pitbull" Freire.

Bantamweight

1. Dominick Cruz

2. Joseph Benavidez

3. Urijah Faber

4. Brian Bowles

5. Miguel Torres

6. Scott Jorgensen

7. Takeya Mizugaki

8. Wagnney Fabiano

9. Masakatsu Ueda

10. Eddie Wineland

This was a month where many of the top bantamweights affirmed their spots at the top of the division. Joseph Benavidez, Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles and Takeya Mizugaki all picked up wins. Of those, Bowles was probably the most impressive. In an absolutely stunning development, Bowles managed to defeated Damacio Page via guillotine choke 3:30 into the first round for the second time. Yes, he beat the same opponent with the same hold at the same second of their rematch.

ALSO:

UFC 128: Jones Captures Title

Ultimate Fighting Championship  buys Strikeforce

--Todd Martin

Photo: Mixed martial artist Cain Velasquez. Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Studio 54

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