SB Nation pound-for-pound rankings: St-Pierre absence, Silva injury bring change

Esther Lin

The seismic events which occurred in the mixed martial arts world over the final quarter of 2013 have spilled over into the sport's pound-for-pound rankings.

Gone is a top-three mainstay for as long as most these lists have been around: Former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. The Montreal native would no doubt still be ranked if he hadn't chosen to vacate his title while he goes and finds himself. But by voluntarily removing himself from the picture, he's also gone from the pound-for-pound list until the day if and when he returns.

Anderson Silva's case, meanwhile, is different. All preliminary indications after his horrific leg injury are that the longtime pound-for-pound kingpin does not intend to retire at this point. And as such, he'll be treated like other injured fighters who would generally be considered for P4P honors.

An example would be Dominick Cruz, who returns to action on Feb. 1. The UFC bantamweight champion was out for two years with a knee injury. He remained ranked for quite some time, but the sport moved on and Renan Barao emerged, causing Cruz to slide down the rankings. A win over Barao would obviously put him back into the top 10.

GSP's removal and Silva's second consecutive loss made for quite a transition in the rankings. Jon Jones remained a unanimous number one. The current longest-reigning Zuffa champion, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr., took four second-place votes to claim the No. 2 spot with 51. Cain Velasquez, who, if not for getting tagged once by Junior dos Santos, could very well be undefeated, claimed third, with three third-place votes.

Fourth-place ended up in a tie, as Demetrious Johnson and Chris Weidman both finished with 36 points. Which do you value more: Weidman's accomplishment in defeating the great Silva twice, or the versatility and all-around skill "Mighty Mouse" has displayed in cleaning out the UFC's newest men's division just as it is getting established? Johnson took four fourth-place votes, one fifth, and a ninth. Weidman had one second-place vote, three fifths, one six and one seventh.

The next three fighters placed were all ranked last time out and placed on all six ballots: Barao, who remained in sixth, Silva, who dropped three spots to seventh, and lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, who moved up one spot from ninth.

Claiming the final two spots were Johny Hendricks, who meets Robbie Lawler for the vacant welterweight belt in March; and Vitor Belfort, Weidman's next challenger. Cruz, 10th last time, finished tied for 11th.

Pound_for_pound_tables__12-31-13__medium

(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 fighters who would generally be considered for the pound-for-pound list at the moment).

1. Jon Jones (19-1 60 points): Glover Teixeira and Jimi Manuwa stand in the way of the Jones-Alexander Gustafsson rematch everyone wants to see.

2. Jose Aldo Jr. (23-1, 51 points): By the time Aldo steps into the cage with Ricardo Lamas, he'll have been the UFC/WEC featherweight champion for four years, two months, and two weeks, the third-longest title reign in Zuffa history.

3. Cain Velasquez (13-1, 41 points): Velasquez will be out awhile healing up post shoulder surgery. But he's got an interesting fight awaiting him regardless who wins the planned Fabricio Werdum-Travis Browne fight.

4t. Demetrious Johnson (19-2-1, 36 points): The only UFC champion to go 3-0 in 2013, "Mighty Mouse," who was once derided as a non-finisher, has a submission and knockout in his past two title defenses.

4t. Chris Weidman (11-0, 36 points): You beat Anderson Silva twice, you earn your spot in the top five.

6. Renan Barao (31-1, 1 no-contest, 33 points): Barao has his chance to solidify his claim when he finally meets Dominick Cruz next month.

7. Anderson Silva (33-6, 31 points): Whether Silva can ever be the same fighter again is a question that will be settled later. For now, he still hasn't lost to anyone aside from Weidman in recent years.

8. Anthony Pettis (17-2, 7 points): Pettis' penchant for injury is pretty much the only thing keeping him from being ranked higher at this point in his career.

9. Johny Hendricks (15-2, 7 points): Most people thought Hendricks beat GSP back at UFC 167. While he's not getting another fight with St-Pierre, a chance at the gold he should have received in November is good enough.

10. Vitor Belfort (24-10, 4 points): The former UFC heavyweight tourney winner and light heavyweight champion is next in line for a middleweight title shot.

Votes for others: Dominick Cruz, Junior dos Santos 3; Ben Henderson 2; Gilbert Melendez, Glover Teixeira 1.

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