SB Nation middleweight rankings: Where to rank Anderson Silva?

USA TODAY Sports

According to early reports, following surgery on his broken left leg, Anderson Silva is already asking when he can get back to training.

From all accounts, Silva's surgery was a success, and his injury wasn't necessarily the career-ender everyone feared the moment they saw the replay of Silva's shin hitting Chris Weidman's knee in their UFC 168 bout on Dec. 28.

Given that doctors say Silva can return to training in six to nine months, and that nothing from the former middleweight champion's camp indicates that retirement is being seriously considered, then, we're pleased to continue ranking Silva in the SBNation poll until we hear otherwise.

Where to rank him, then, is the next question.

Weidman, obviously, took the top spot in the latest poll, claiming all six first-place votes for 60 points.

But voters are split on their second-place vote. Silva and Brazilian rival Vitor Belfort finished tied for second, as each fighter took three second-place votes and three thirds for 51 points apiece.

Do you still consider Silva heads and tails above the rest of the pack aside from Weidman? Or do you think Belfort's performance in 2013, with knockouts of Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping, and Dan Henderson, push him ahead of Silva heading into 2014? That's the conundrum which ended with the two fighters in a dead heat.

As for the rest of the poll, each of the top seven fighters received votes from all six panelists. The poll's biggest gainer was Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, who appears to be a couple wins away from a title shot. He jumped from seventh place to fourth. Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida debuts at No. 5 after his brutal head-kick knockout of Mark Munoz in his 185-pound debut. And Tim Kennedy enters the top 10 after his third straight victory.

(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. This does not affect any middleweight fighters under consideration at the moment).

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1. Chris Weidman (11-0, 60 points): The middleweight champion has successfully defended every takedown attempt in his UFC career.

2t. Vitor Belfort (24-10, 51 points): Like it or not, the sports' most controversial TRT lightning rod will get his title shot, and it will be one of 2014's biggest fights.

2t. Anderson Silva (33-6, 51 points): While Silva would be pushing 40 by the time a hypothetical comeback fight would occur, it's worth considering that he hasn't taken the head trauma most fighters with his age and experience have taken.

4. Ronaldo Souza (19-3, 1 NC, 37 points): Francis Carmont is next for the red-hot "Jacare," winner of five straight, including four first-round finishes.

5. Lyoto Machida (20-4, 34 points): Machida's speed at middleweight is scary. A bout with Gegard Mousasi on Feb. 15 is up next.

6. Michael Bisping (24-5, 33 points): No opponent yet, but Bisping is back to full-contract training after eye surgery.

7. Luke Rockhold (10-2, 20 points): Upcoming matchup with Costa Philippou is a rebound fight for both.

8. Yushin Okami (29-8, 14 points): Still no first WSOF fight signed for Okami, whose past three fights include wins over Alan Belcher and Hector Lombard.

9. Mark Munoz (13-4, 10 points): Munoz's dropped two of his past three fights. But then, those losses are to Weidman and Machida.

10. Tim Kennedy (17-4, 8 points): Memorable knockout of Rafael Natal at Fight for the Troops 3 gave Kennedy five wins in his past six fights.

Votes for others: Francis Carmont 6, Gegard Mousasi 4, Tim Boetsch 2.

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