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By: Rich Hansen, MMATorch Columnist
Do you remember the $25,000 Pyramid?
Fighting Cain Velazquez
Counting all the grains of sand in the world in once second.
Things that are easier than ranking MMA featherweights?
The following list is wrong. I've come to terms with that fact. There is nothing anyone can do or say that will change my mind; nor is there anything anyone can say that will bother me about my list because I already know it's completely off.
In coming up with this list, I spent more than six hours watching as many fights on YouTube and MMALinker as I could, to try to get some clarity. I found none. But at least I gave it the old college try. Thoughts and questions are welcome below.
Here's the schedule for upcoming divisions:
June 21: Heavyweights - Immediately after several huge HW fights
June 28: Welterweights - Nate Marquardt debuts at WW on June 26
July 5: Bantamweights - Immediately after UFC BW title fight
July 12: Light Heavyweights
July 19: Middleweights
Featherweight Rankings as of June 14, 2011
1.) Jose Aldo - Hey, Ranking featherweights is easy. Next fight: vs. Kenny Florian, TBA
2.) Chad Mendes - OK, ranking featherweights is easy and all, because a little bit of subjectivity is expected. Mendes over Florian because Florian would struggle with Mendes' style. Next fight: vs. Rani Yahya, August 6
3.) Kenny Florian - OK, I've got the hang of things. Florian handled Nunes alright in his debut at 145, and has a strong resume at 155. This is going smoothly, for sure. Next fight: vs. Jose Aldo, TBA
4.) Mark Hominick - I know he lost to Hioki (#5), but that was 5 years ago. This is getting a little harder. Showing against Aldo elevated Hominick's esteem. Next fight: TBA
5.) Hatsu Hioki - Being the best Japan has to offer nowadays is kind of like winning the Sexiest Cankles contest at the county fair. OK, you won, but um, look who you were up against? Win here, then we'll talk. Next fight: TBA
6.) Eric Koch - What what WHAT? Hey, it's my list here, people. Massive KO power, underrated ground game, youth, and RoufuSport in the house, yo. Next fight: vs. Jonathan Brookins, September 17
7.) Manvel Gamburyan - That he fought for the WEC Featherweight Title is a testament to the jumbled nature of this division. Built his name at 145 with wins over Mike Brown and Leonard Garcia. Hmm. Did someone say that ranking featherweights is hard? Next fight: vs. Tyson Griffin, June 26
8.) Joe Warren - He's a featherweight. No, he's a bantamweight. The belt around his waist at this moment say featherweight. Lost badly to Bibiano Fernandes, struggled to beat almost everybody in Bellator, but a win is a win. Next fight: vs. Patricio Friere, July 23.
9.) Patricio Friere - Really, I'm telling you, if you want to rank 25 featherweights, be my guest. This is a subjective ranking, based on watching him kill fools. He's going to beat Joe Warren next month, but since he lost to Warren when they first fought... Next fight: vs. Joe Warren, July 23
10.) Bibiano Fernandes - Japan I love you, but you're bringing me down. Someone, somewhere, got that reference and is smiling. How do you rank the guys who succeeded in Japan, when all of the guys who have crossed over to the States have gotten smoked like, well, like things that get smoked a lot. Beat Warren, Takaya, and Hansen in succession, but looked bad in rematch with Takaya, which looks worse since Takaya lost to Peralta in Strikeforce. Next fight: TBA
11.) Dustin Poirier - This is about the point where I started pulling out my hair. For the third time or so. Poirier looked fantastic against Josh Grispi, but my cat might be -150 against Grispi right now. Little known Jason Young looked good against Poirier. Was that because Young is good, or because Poirier isn't all that? Again, damned if I know. Ask me again in about three years. Next fight: TBA
12.) George Roop - Yes, I am in shock too. Clearly there's no shame in getting pole-axed by Mark Hominick, and he looked as good as anyone when he beat Josh Grispi and Chan Sung Jung. Ask me again in two months, he might be 50th. Next fight: TBA
13.) Marlon Sandro - For all the hype, his best win is over Masanori Kanehara. Let's see what he does in Bellator. Has enough talent to be top five, but doesn't have the resume. Yet. Next fight: TBA
14.) Diego Nunes - How much is beating Mike Brown and Josh Grispi worth? How in the hell would I know? But I do know those wins impact his standing more than losing to Kenny Florian harms him. Next fight: TBA
15.) Masanori Kanehara - This might be a little high for the former Sengoku champion, but he holds recent victories over KID Yamamoto, Michihiro Omigawa, and Chan Sung Jung. Next fight: TBA
16.) Chan Sung Jung - Everybody's favorite Leonard Garcia conqueror, The Zombie gets brownie points for his notoriety. Win by Twister, and fight in a FotY candidate, and people will think you're better than you may actually be. Next fight: TBA
17.) Michihiro Omigawa - This one hurts. I love Omigawa. Armbar over Cole Escovedo was a thing of beauty. And yes, I know he beat Darren Elkins, despite the judges. But he got clocked by Mendes, and didn't look good against Elkins. My faith is wavering. Next fight: TBA
18.) Hiroyuki Takaya - His loss to Robert Peralta was the most damning indictment on the current state of Japanese MMA. Losing to Peralta on an unaired prelim fight, after being on such a roll in Japan? Combine that with a previous failed WEC run... Sigh. Next fight: TBA
19.) Joachim Hansen - One thing we know, this cat won't be fighting for the UFC or Strikeforce anytime soon. He's looked OK at 145, and the Tokoro fight was the best I have seen him look at this weight. Next fight: vs. Jameel Massouh, October 28
20.) Rani Yahya - I really think Yahya is a sleeper at 145. Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until after Chad Mendes mauls him to find out. Next fight (conveniently enough) vs. Chad Mendes, August 6
21.) Mike Brown - Wil the real Mike Brown please stand up? Is he the guy that eviscerated the previously invincible Urijah Faber on two occasions? Or is he the guy who looked so uninspired against Gamburyan, Nunes, and Yahya. No shame in losing to any or all of those guys, but he looked bad in those fights. Next fight: vs. Nam Phan, August 6
22.) Josh Grispi - Speaking of looking bad in defeat. Grispi has stated he's going to see a sports psychologist. That's a fantastic move. To illustrate this division's craziness, he was supposed to fight Jose Aldo a few months ago. Seems like decades. Next fight: TBA
23.) Cub Swanson - It's a shame that he's most known for losing to Jose Aldo's flying double knees, because he's a warrior. He's also someone you don't think of as a top 25 guy, but his last three losses have been to Mendes, Aldo, and Good Jens Pulver (I felt the need to differentiate). Next fight: vs. Erik Koch, Erik Koch, TBA
24.) Mackens Semerzier - Semerzier has top 10 talent, and he beat Swanson despite what the judges had to say about it. Watch out for this cat. Next fight: vs. Yuri Alcantara, August 27
25.) Leonard Garcia - Look, I don't know if he's the 25th best featherweight in the world, but it's late, my brain hurts, and nobody punches the air two inches in front of someone's face more convincingly than Garcia does. Next fight: Alex Caceres, August 14
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