1. UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division
The near monopoly of talent makes it the best division in all mixed martial arts. Any light heavyweight wanting to prove himself must fight for the UFC. There are maybe 5 relevant light heavyweights outside the UFC (Mousasi, Nogueira, Babalu, Matyushenko, Arona and maybe Lawal). Lyoto Machida is the clear king, but exciting bout await. Machida vs. Shogun is interesting. Other exciting fights are up-coming in this division. Rampage vs. Rashad. Franklin vs. Belfort. Jardine vs. T. Silva. Griffin vs. A. Silva. The potential match-ups are many.
2. WEC’s Featherweight Division
I put this one second because of the star power in this divison. I think it will only grow. Mike Thomas Brown is the clear champion, but he has a tough contender in Jose Aldo awaiting. If you add to that future challenger Wagnney Fabiano, Rafael Assuncao, and Josh Grispi. There are still others that could challenge. Guys like Mark Hominick, L.C. Davis, Manny Gamburyan, Leonard Garcia, and Urijah Faber are still in the mix. There are tons of potential exciting match ups and I would have to imagine that the sheer volume of featherweight will be a draw to other free agents.
3. UFC’s Welterweight Division
Perhaps the division most monopolozed. What welterweight fighters are not in the UFC? Only a few guys like Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Nick Thompson, and Jay Hieron. Georges St. Pierre makes this divison look weaker than it is. The challengers to his strap are few, but the UFC is the place for top welterweights.
4. UFC Heavyweight Division
This division stunk a year ago. Now it is compelling. Brock Lesnar is the most polarizing guy in mixed martial arts. People love to hate the dude, but people pay to see him. The question in this divison is who will defeat the bad guy. There are a host of guys lined up. I believe this divison is solid and still underrated. A division with Lesnar, Couture, Nogueira, Carwin, Velasquez, Mir, Kongo, Rothwell, Cro Cop, Dos Santos, and Gonzaga is stacked. If you add to that top notch prospects who could make a ripple like Russow, Tuchscherer, Duffee, Gormley and Barry you start to see the depth of the division. This does not even take into account the tenth season of the Ultimate Fighter which will certainly add several future contenders. The cast featured a near consensus top 20 fighter in Roy Nelson and huge star Kimbo Slice. Also, several notable prospects were featured who will likely get a shot in the UFC including Brendan Schaub, Marcus Jones, Justin Wren, Darrill Schoonover. This divison is exciting. It may dserve to be higher up the list. An exciting divison has exciting fights hanging in the balance and this division has ’em. On tap are Couture vs. Nogueira, Cro Cop vs. Dos Santos, Carwin vs. Velasquez, Rothwell vs. Gormley and possibly Mir vs. Kongo by year’s end. Wow.
5. UFC Lightweight Divison
Most rankings do not do the UFC lightweights justice. This divison may not have the top 20 talent that other divisons have, but I believe from top to bottom it is just as deep as any. B.J. Penn is the best in the world, but Kenny Florian is going to challenge him. Guys like Diego Sanchez, Gray Maynard, Frank Edgar wait in hopes of a title shot. I believe guys like Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin, Spencer Fisher, Joe Stevenson, Gleison Tibau, Jim Miller, and Nate Diaz could beat many of the highly ranked fighters outside the UFC.
6. Strikeforce’s Middleweight Division
I do not agree with Strikeforce’s use of guys liek Shields and Diaz in this divison, but their presence helps this division. This division boasts guys like champion Cung Le, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock. Tim Kennedy, and Benji Radach. Cung Le’s idleness hurts the division as there is no active champion.
7. UFC’s Middleweight Division
Perhaps this is deeper than Strikeforce’s and deserves to be abve them. This division is the one with the best pound for pound fighter in the world in it. There is no telling how bad he has made this divison look. Some wonder about future challengers, but I believe there are challengers-a-plenty. You have Dan Henderson lined up next. You got the winner of the Marquardt vs. Maia fight. You have Yushin Okami. You still have other guys like Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Dan Miller, and Chael Sonnen in the mix.