After Fedor Emelianenko signed with Strikeforce, I wrote that he was a game changer, and that the combination of the heavyweight champion of MMA and the best women's division in MMA made Strikeforce a major player in the sport.
But I should also acknowledge something that should probably go without saying, but sometimes goes overlooked among hardcore MMA fans: The UFC still completely dominates MMA.
That's obviously true from a business perspective: The UFC is the gold standard, the company whose name is synonymous with MMA among much of the public, the company that sells out arenas across North America and, increasingly, around the world, and the company that puts on a dozen profitable pay-per-view shows a year at a time when other MMA promotions lose millions on pay-per-view.
I think the UFC is just as dominant, however, from a competitive perspective: Zuffa (which owns the UFC and WEC) has more than three-fourths of male MMA fighters who are in the Top 10 of their weight classes, meaning that even if Strikeforce, M-1, Dream and any other promotion decide to co-promote, they can't even come close to matching the depth of talent that the UFC has under contract.
For fun, I decided to go through my own rankings of the Top 10 fighters in MMA in each of the seven main weight classes, as well as the Top 10 pound-for-pound fighters. It's not even close: Zuffa has a majority of the top fighters in every weight class, from heavyweight to bantamweight, and a total of 55 fighters who are in the Top 10 of their weight classes. Look at my Top 10 lists below, and even if your Top 10 would look different, I think you'll agree that a large majority of the best male fighters fight under the Zuffa banner.
UFC (6): Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez.
Other (4): Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett*, Brett Rogers, Alistair Overeem
UFC (8): Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Shogun Rua, Rich Franklin, Keith Jardine, Luiz Cane
Other (2): Renato Sobral, Gegard Mousasi
UFC (8): Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Yushin Okami, Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt, Demian Maia, Thales Leites, Chael Sonnen
Other (2): Jorge Santiago, Jake Shields
UFC (9): Georges St. Pierre, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Mike Swick, Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann, Dan Hardy, Paulo Thiago
Other (1): Nick Diaz
UFC (6): B.J. Penn, Kenny Florian, Gray Maynard, Frank Edgar, Diego Sanchez, Sean Sherk
Other (4): Shinya Aoki, Eddie Alvarez, Joachim Hansen, Josh Thomson
WEC (6): Mike Brown, Urijah Faber, Wagnney Fabiano, Jose Aldo, Leonard Garcia, Rafael Assuncao
Other (4): Hatsu Hioki, Yuji Hoshino, Joe Warren, Marlon Sandro
WEC (8): Miguel Torres, Takeya Mizugaki, Brian Bowles, Rani Yahya, Joseph Benavidez, Dominick Cruz, Manny Tapia, Akitoshi Tamura
Other (2): Masakatsu Ueda, Eduardo Dantas
UFC/WEC (9): Georges St. Pierre, Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Miguel Torres, Mike Brown, Rampage Jackson, B.J. Penn, Rashad Evans, Urijah Faber
Other (1): Fedor Emelianenko