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SportsColumnistsMark La Monica

New year, new MMA pound-for-pound rankings

Georges St-Pierre, from Montreal celebrates after defeating Josh

Georges St-Pierre, from Montreal celebrates after defeating Josh Koscheck, from Waynesburg, PA., with a unanimous decision to retain his welterweight title at UFC 124 Sunday, December 12, 2010 in Montreal. The mixed martial arts fight went the distance with St-Pierre winning 50-45 on all three judges' card. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press - Ryan Remiorz) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz

Six months passed and created quite a shake up in our pound-for-pound mixed martial arts rankings. Three new fighters entered the list and another three moved positions.

Here we go with our semiyearly countdown of the 10 best MMA fighters in the world.

10. RASHAD EVANS (light heavyweight, UFC, 15-1-1)

"Suga" has been quiet since beating Quinton "Rampage" Jackson last May, both in and out of the cage. He's earned the next title shot and has been waiting for Mauricio Rua - No. 7 on this list - to get healthy. That fight is tentatively scheduled for March, barring health issues. Evans has garnered some criticism for not staying active since the champion's been injured. The problem with that is this: if he fights to stay active or for a paycheck, he could very easily lose or get hurt and cost himself a bigger paycheck and sponsors and such.

Previous ranking: NR
Next fight: UFC 128 in New Jersey on March 16.

9. JAKE SHIELDS (welterweight, UFC, 26-4-1)

Shields went from Strikeforce middleweight champion to victorious UFC welterweight fighter. But his debut in the sport's biggest promotion was less than stellar. That, combined with the impressive feats of those ahead of him, dropped Shields two spots here.

Previous ranking: 7
Next fight: Presumably against Georges St-Pierre April 30 in Toronto, but not official.

8. CAIN VELASQUEZ (heavyweight, UFC, 9-0)

He's the next new breed of heavyweight, a powerful striker with a solid ground game. Velasquez did the unthinkable in October. He derailed and destroyed Brock Lesnar for the heavyweight title.

Previous ranking: NR
Next fight: TBA; out 6-8 months with shoulder injury.

7. MAURICIO "SHOGUN" RUA (light heavyweight, UFC, )

It's hard to stay atop the pound-for-pound rankings when an injury keeps a fighter out for so long, especially with what those who jumped ahead of him have accomplished in that time. But Rua is reportedly healthy enough to defend his title in two months.

Previous ranking: 4
Next fight: UFC 128 in New Jersey on March 16.

6. DOMINICK CRUZ (bantamweight, UFC, 17-1)

He's fast. He's elusive. He drives high-level mathematicians crazy with the new angles he creates with his punches. "The Dominator" has won his last eight fights and looked better each time. The talk right now centers on Cruz defending his UFC title against the only man to defeat him: Urijah Faber.

Previous ranking: NR
Next fight: TBA

5. JON FITCH (welterweight, UFC, 23-3)

It's hard to define Fitch's fighting style other than that it works well for him. He's on a five-fight win streak, but more importantly, an eight-fight decision streak. Fitch must finish a fight if he wants to get another title shot soon. His only loss in five years? Georges St-Pierre.

Previous ranking: 5
Next fight: BJ Penn at UFC 127 in Australia on Feb. 27.

4. FRANKIE EDGAR (lightweight, UFC, 13-1-1)

What a year it has been for the champion from Tom's River, N.J. He beat BJ Penn twice in a four-month span and then fought to draw with Gray Maynard on New Year's Day. Edgar is a scrappy fighter with improving stand-up and a solid wrestling base. He lacks that star power for now, but another year like this and there won't be much room left on his bandwagon.

Previous ranking: 8
Next fight: TBA; rumored rematch with Maynard.

3. JOSE ALDO (featherweight, UFC, 18-1)

Putting any other 145-pounder in the cage against this Brazilian is unfair. Aldo can strike from anywhere and is lightning-fast. He became the first UFC featherweight champion by way of a merger with the WEC, and the thought is that he'll stay the champion for as long as he wants. The only thing that has slowed Aldo down in the past two years has been a compressed vertebrae in his neck that postponed his title defense at UFC 125.

Previous ranking: 3
Next fight: TBA.

2. GEORGES ST-PIERRE (welterweight, UFC, 21-2)

GSP single-handedly brought the left jab into vogue for mixed martial artists. Literally. At UFC 124 last month, St-Pierre picked apart Josh Koscheck for five rounds using the left jab and occasional left hook. Known for his dominant ground game, GSP gave future opponents one more thing to prepare for: his striking. We're coming closer and closer to a superfight against the No. 1 guy on this list. Well, at least UFC president Dana White isn't publicly pooh-poohing the idea anymore.

Previous ranking: 2
Next fight: Possibly against Jake Shields in April.

1. ANDERSON SILVA (middleweight, UFC, 27-4)

Yes, Silva was dominated for four-plus rounds by Chael Sonnen back in August. Yes, Silva looked human for four-plus rounds. But championship fights are five full rounds, and Silva pulled off the miraculous submission victory in the final two minutes. Silva is a dominant striker but it's easy to forget that he holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It's just too hard to knock Silva from No. 1 right now, no matter how good GSP looked against Koscheck.

Previous ranking: 1
Next fight: Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 on Feb. 6 in Las Vegas.

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