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Anderson Silva No Longer Atop MMA Pound-for-Pound Lists

A year ago, almost everyone considered UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva the best pound-for-pound fighter in mixed martial arts.

What a difference a year makes. Now, hardly anyone considers Silva the best fighter in MMA -- even though the Spider is still the champ, and has gone 3-0 in the past year.

Yahoo Sports does a monthly poll in which 18 members of the MMA media (myself included) vote for the Top 10 pound-for-pound fighters. This month, nine voters chose UFC welterweight champion Georges St Pierre as the top fighter, eight voted for Affliction heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko and one picked WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres. Not a single media member voted for Silva in the top spot.

So what happened? Obviously, some of it has to do with Silva's last two performances. He looked tentative and cautious at UFC 90 in October, beating Patrick Cote by third-round TKO only when Cote had to stop because of a knee injury. And he looked really tentative and really cautious at UFC 97 in April, beating Thales Leites by unanimous decision after spending 25 minutes trying to avoid contact, rather than initiate it. That's not the Silva we saw in his first seven UFC fights.

But while Silva hasn't been quite as impressive lately, I actually think his decline in the pound-for-pound rankings has less to do with what he has done than with what GSP, Fedor and Torres have done. St. Pierre is coming off a dominant win over Thiago Alves at UFC 100, and his 3-0 record over the last year has looked a lot better than Silva's. Fedor destroyed Tim Sylvia in August and Andrei Arlovski in January. And Torres has been explosive and exciting in defeating Manny Tapia and Takeya Mizugaki.

Still, while I believe Silva deserved to drop (I considered him No. 1 a year ago and now I consider him No. 4) I wouldn't be at all surprised if Silva finds himself back atop the pound-for-pound list before he's done. Silva has his toughest test yet on August 8 against Forrest Griffin, and an impressive victory in that fight would probably be enough to move him back to the top of some pound-for-pound ballots. Silva's reputation has taken a hit, but not a knockout blow.

UPDATE: Shortly after I wrote this Sherdog released its latest pound-for-pound list, with Silva at the top.