The Middle Gets Even Thicker

By: Sherdog.com Staff
Nov 28, 2016

Over the last two years, the middleweight division steadily has gotten deeper, more competitive and more compelling. Yoel Romero looks like he is next for champion Michael Bisping, while Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza are still waiting in the wings; the UFC does not need another 185-pound power player right this second. Gegard Mousasi and Robert Whittaker clearly do not care.

In recent days, the perennial standout Mousasi and the upstart prospect Whittaker racked up first-round stoppage victories that have them on the move up the Sherdog.com divisional rankings, as well as toward UFC title contention.

Mousasi, who spent 14 months haunted by his shocking knockout loss to Uriah Hall, exorcised those demons on Nov. 19 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he punched out Hall in the first round for his fourth straight win since being upset. A week later, Whittaker was thrust into headlining duties in Melbourne, Australia, and used his powerful left hand to knock out Derek Brunson and signal his own emergence as a middleweight contender.

Also, 135-pound matters impact this update. Formerly 10th-ranked flyweight Justin Scoggins officially announced his return to the bantamweight division and was submitted by Pedro Munhoz on Nov. 19, so he exits our 125-pound rankings. Meanwhile, previously eighth-ranked Tonya Evinger exits our women’s 135-pound rankings but not without controversy: Evinger lost her Invicta Fighting Championships bantamweight title and had her nine-fight winning streak snapped by Yana Kunitskaya at Invicta 20 on Nov. 18. However, Kunitskaya’s fight-ending armbar was seemingly aided by referee Mike England, who erroneously told Evinger she could not place her foot on Kunitskaya’s face.

Only in MMA.

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