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L.A. Times January MMA Rankings

January 9, 2012 |  9:38 am

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Heavyweight

1. Junior Dos Santos

2. Alistair Overeem

3. Cain Velasquez

4. Fabricio Werdum

5. Daniel Cormier

6. Frank Mir

7. Josh Barnett

8. Antonio Silva

9. Fedor Emelianenko

10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Alistair Overeem earned a title shot at UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos with a decisive first round knockout of Brock Lesnar. Overeem-Dos Santos should be a compelling battle between feared and explosive strikers. As for Lesnar, the former UFC champion and superstar box office attraction announced his retirement after the loss. In Japan, Fedor Emelianenko picked up another win against average opposition by stopping Satoshi Ishii in the first round.

Light Heavyweight

1. Jon Jones

2. Rashad Evans

3. Dan Henderson

4. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

5. Lyoto Machida

6. Quinton Jackson

7. Gegard Mousasi

8. Thiago Silva

9. Forrest Griffin

10. Rich Franklin

Gegard Mousasi earned a competitive decision victory over Ovince St. Preux in the light heavyweight division’s most important December contest. Next up in January is a Fox showdown between top contender Rashad Evans and rising prospect Phil Davis. Davis’ wrestling will offer up a stern test for the well-rounded and dangerous Evans.

Middleweight

1. Anderson Silva

2. Chael Sonnen

3. Yushin Okami

4. Mark Munoz

5. Vitor Belfort

6. Michael Bisping

7. Nate Marquardt

8. Demian Maia

9. Hector Lombard

10. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will watch on January 28 with interest when Chael Sonnen and Mark Munoz square off for the right to battle Silva for his championship. Sonnen’s MMA success has been built on wrestling, but he will have his hands full with the former national champion wrestler Munoz. Also on the same card, Michael Bisping and Demian Maia will compete in an important 185 pound tilt. The winner will likely be next in line for a title shot after the Sonnen/Munoz victor.

Welterweight

1. Georges St. Pierre

2. Nick Diaz

3. Carlos Condit

4. Johny Hendricks

5. Jon Fitch

6. Josh Koscheck

7. Jake Ellenberger

8. Jake Shields

9. B.J. Penn

10. Martin Kampmann

In the most shocking welterweight result since Matt Serra’s knockout of Georges St. Pierre in 2007, Johny Hendricks knocked out Jon Fitch in just 12 seconds at UFC 141. Fitch was 20-1-1 in his previous 22 bouts with his only loss coming in a title bout with St. Pierre. Even among those who thought Hendricks would win against Fitch, a 12 second knockout seemed unthinkable. Hendricks, a world class wrestler with a 12-1 MMA record, has some big fights coming his way. His only potential liability is that he is small for the 170 pound division.

Lightweight

1. Frank Edgar

2. Gilbert Melendez

3. Ben Henderson

4. Gray Maynard

5. Jim Miller

6. Clay Guida

7. Shinya Aoki

8. Anthony Pettis

9. Nate Diaz

10. Eddie Alvarez

The announcement that Gilbert Melendez will stay in the Strikeforce organization for the time being rather than moving to the UFC came as a surprise to many given the scarcity of matchups for the elite lightweight fighter. That dilemma was on full display when Gilbert Melendez defeated Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision to retain his Strikeforce lightweight title. Although Melendez won handily, he was expected to win even more convincingly and many were disappointed. In other action, Shinya Aoki scored a dominant victory over Satoru Kitaoka and Nate Diaz utilized pinpoint boxing to frustrate and beat up Donald Cerrone.

Featherweight

1. Jose Aldo

2. Chad Mendes

3. Dustin Poirier

4. Tatsuya Kawajiri

5. Hatsu Hioki

6. Kenny Florian

7. Diego Nunes

8. Erik Koch

9. Patricio “Pitbull” Freire

10. Joe Warren

This Saturday night at UFC 141 Jose Aldo will defend his UFC featherweight title against top contender Chad Mendes. The key question in the fight will be whether Mendes can use his wrestling to negate the kickboxing and jiu jitsu of Aldo. Diego Nunes didn’t have an easy time with Manny Gamburyan at UFC 141, but he did enough to earn the judges’ decision. Tatsuya Kawajiri scored another featherweight win over Kazuyuki Miyata.

Bantamweight

1. Dominick Cruz

2. Joseph Benavidez

3. Urijah Faber

4. Demetrious Johnson

5. Miguel Torres

6. Brian Bowles

7. Scott Jorgensen

8. Renan Barao

9. Bibiano Fernandes

10. Michael McDonald

Bibiano Fernandes scored the month’s most significant wins, defeating Antonio Banuelos and Rodolfo Marques in the same night to emerge the winner in Dream’s bantamweight tournament. Fernandes is the best bantamweight fighter not under the Zuffa (UFC/Strikeforce) banner and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t end up in the UFC at some point in the next couple years.

--Todd Martin

Photo: Alistair Overeem celebrates his first-round victory over Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 on Dec. 30. Credit: Eric Jamison / Associated Press.

 

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