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MMA pound-for-pound rankings heading into 2013

Anderson Silva, right, throws a punch at Stephan

Anderson Silva, right, throws a punch at Stephan Bonnar during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro. (Oct. 14, 2012) Credit: AP

A new year, a new set of MMA pound-for-pound rankings.

Newsday's P4P rankings are done every six months rather than monthly so as to be more comprehensive in assessing fighters' bodies of work because most of them compete only two or three times per year.

Here's the list, in true countdown order:

10. FRANKIE EDGAR (UFC, featherweight, 14-3-1)

Despite being 1-2-1 in his last four fights, Edgar gets the edge here over former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. Why? Because Edgar has proven his worth on the ground as well as with his hands. The question for Edgar is whether the speed advantage he held at 155 pounds will be there since he dropped to 145.

Previous ranking: 10

Next fight: UFC 156 vs. Jose Aldo on Feb. 2.

9. DAN HENDERSON (UFC, light heavyweight, 29-8)

A knee injury cost Henderson a shot at Jon Jones' title in September. But the 42-year-old is on a three-fight win streak -- his last fight was Nov. 19, 2011 -- and will need a very healthy knee when he faces Lyoto Machida next month.

Previous ranking: 9

Next fight: UFC 156 vs. Lyoto Machida on Feb. 2.

8. GILBERT MELENDEZ (Strikeforce, lightweight, 21-2)

One of the few high-profile fighters in Strikeforce, he keeps on winning -- seven straight since April 2009. He also manages to keep getting hurt, pulling out of his last two fights. He's expected to get a title shot against Ben Henderson when Strikeforce folds this month and UFC has its pick of fighters.

Previous ranking: 8

Next fight: TBD

7. DOMINICK CRUZ (UFC, bantamweight, 19-1)

Cruz is one of the quickest fighters around and has looked unbeatable in his last three fights. But he re-injured his knee ligaments and is out at least another six months. He last fought on Oct. 1, 2011, and in that time, other fighters have surpassed him.

Previous ranking: 5

Next fight: TBD

6. CAIN VELASQUEZ (UFC, heavyweight, 11-1)

What he did to Dos Santos in winning back his title at UFC 155 was unprecedented. Before that mauling, Dos Santos had been off his feet for less than 20 seconds combined in nine previous UFC bouts. Velasquez took him down 11 times and landed more than 100 significant strikes to win all five rounds, including a total of three 10-8 rounds.

Previous ranking: NR

Next fight: TBD

5. BEN HENDERSON (UFC, lightweight, 17-2)

In 2012, Henderson beat Edgar twice then pitched a five-round shutout of Nate Diaz. He looked unstoppable against Diaz and should have earned the respect from those out there who still refused to give it to him. Henderson is 6-0 since the UFC absorbed the WEC at the end of 2010.

Previous ranking: 7

Next fight: TBA

4. JOSE ALDO (UFC, featherweight, 21-1)

It will be more than a year in between fights for Aldo when he defends his title against Edgar on Super Bowl weekend. Still, he's the most dominant 145-pounder in the world regardless of how long he's been away because of injury.

Previous ranking: 4

Next fight: UFC 156 vs. Frankie Edgar on Feb. 2

3. GEORGES ST-PIERRE (UFC, welterweight, 23-2)

St-Pierre returned after 586 days away to beat Carlos Condit, unify the welterweight titles and solidify his position as the best 170-pounder in the world. It was his sixth straight fight that went all five rounds. Despite all the talk about a possible superfight with Anderson Silva, St-Pierre has a personal score to address first: Nick Diaz.

Previous ranking: 3

Next fight: UFC 158 vs. Nick Diaz, March 16

2. JON JONES (UFC, light heavyweight, 17-1)

Jones almost lost by submission to Vitor Belfort in September. Since then, he has rested his damaged arm and signed on to coach against Chael Sonnen in the upcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter," which has concluded taping and premieres Jan. 22.

Previous ranking: 2

Next fight: UFC 159 vs. Chael Sonnen, April 27

1. ANDERSON SILVA (UFC, middleweight, 33-4)

Maybe he'll fight St.-Pierre. Maybe he'll take the year off. Maybe he'll defend his middleweight title. His camp has said all three for 2013. Whatever happens, be sure to watch the best there is in the sport.

Previous ranking: 1

Next fight: TBD

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