While April was light on actual UFC and Strikeforce events, the cards that did unfold had a surprising number of potential candidates for the pound-for-pound list.
Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley saw Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez step in the cage, while UFC 129 played host to Georges St. Pierre, Jose Aldo, Jake Shields and Lyoto Machida. Their performances have greatly altered the FiveKnuckles.com ranking so without further adieu let's count it down. However, this time I'll be breaking down the top ten into five separate divisions since we have already covered important wins and losses.
On the Outside Looking In
Fighters on the precipice of the top ten pound-for-pound rankings, in no specified order.
The "Revolving Door" Division
10. Gilbert Melendez
With the tenth position on the pound-for-pound rankings list, I wouldn't have a problem with a handful of guys being placed here. You think Gray Maynard should have retained his spot? I completely see your point of view. Rashad Evans deserves it more than Melendez? You can absolutely argue that.
The nine guys ahead on this list are pretty close to being etched in stone for the time being. You can surely move them around or place a guy higher or lower, but the general consensus is that they belong.
But not this tenth place guy. He is seemingly the flavor of the month in terms of pound-for-pound rankings. It just so happens that this month "El Nino" was picked from the Outsiders Looking In list. He earned this position after his dominant performance over Tatsuya Kawajiri at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley. His striking looked phenomenal and his takedown defense amazing. He annihilated the Japanese fighter in under one round.
If there was one fighter I could transplant from Strikeforce into the UFC, it would be Melendez. He could absolutely defeat anyone at 155 and claim the UFC belt. He could also wind up as a fringe top ten contender. But damn would he make things interesting.
The "Why Does GSP Have to be in My Division" Division
9. Jake Shields
8. Jon Fitch
Yes, Shields stays in the top ten despite his loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129. While predictions for the fight wavered from total and complete striking domination by GSP to GSP by cuddlefest, almost no one thought Shields would be as competitive as he was standing against the welterweight champion.
Shield's striking is still pretty horrendous but he managed to land some heavy blows to St. Pierre. He wasn't completely and unequivocally dominated in that fight.
Most analysts knew that St. Pierre was the perfect antidote to Shields. St. Pierre had the wrestling to keep the fight standing and the striking to give Shields fits, so he doesn't drop at all in my book.
But while watching the event live it dawned on me that being Jake Shields or Jon Fitch must be absolutely terrible. Both Shields and Fitch could make a claim as the best welterweight of all time and both of them could reign as the UFC welterweight champion for a long period, but Georges St. Pierre screws the whole thing up.
Fitch or Shields could be talked about as GSP is, if it wasn't for GSP. That statement makes sense somehow, I swear.
Being Fitch or Shields is...