1. Fedor Emelianenko (31-1, 1 NC)
In his big introduction to the North American audience, Emelianenko showed off his opportunistic and explosive skills, brutally thwarting previously unbeaten Brett Rogers in the second round of their Nov. 7 Strikeforce/M-1 Global matchup. Nearly five and a half million watched "The Last Emperor" in primetime on CBS.
2. Brock Lesnar (4-1)
Three weeks of unshakable illness in the middle of training camp has forced the UFC heavyweight champion to postpone his bout with challenger Shane Carwin. Originally scheduled for UFC 106 on Nov. 21, the bout will now likely take place in early 2010.
3. Frank Mir (12-4)
Most of the attention Mir has received lately has stemmed from talks of a superfight with middleweight ace Anderson Silva. Instead, the real next fight for Mir will come at UFC 107 in December, when he takes on French hitter Cheick Kongo.
4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-5-1, 1 NC)
Coming off of his triumph over Randy Couture in August, it was assumed that Nogueira was simply waiting for the winner of the Brock Lesnar-Shane Carwin bout. Now, with that fight postponed, Nogueira will see tough duty at UFC 108 on Jan. 2 when he takes on unbeaten prospect Cain Velasquez.
5. Brett Rogers (10-1)
Rogers' spirited effort against heavyweight ruler Fedor Emelianenko on Nov. 7 seems to have done more for perceptions of his heavyweight future than his 22-second demolition of Andrei Arlovski did. Since the defeat, Rogers has made the lofty claim that he won’t lose again.
6. Josh Barnett (24-5)
Barnett's appeal in front of the California State Athletic Commission regarding his positive steroid test was set for Oct. 26. However, with his legal team still awaiting additional lab results, Barnett was granted a second extension. His case will now be heard Dec. 8.
7. Andrei Arlovski (15-7)
He knocked off the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Ben Rothwell and Roy Nelson in the recent past, but those accomplishments now seem like distant memories for Arlovski. “The Pitbull” has been smashed in his last two outings against Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers, and conversation now centers on the fragile chin that has betrayed him again.
8. Junior dos Santos (9-1)
“Cigano” emerged as a serious heavyweight threat by battering Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic on Sept. 19. In order to earn his contender’s stripes, he will have to take out another Brazilian known for his win over Filipovic -- Gabriel Gonzaga -- at UFC 108 on Jan. 2.
9. Cain Velasquez (7-0)
At UFC 104, Velasquez stepped up considerably in competition and passed with flying colors as he demolished Ben Rothwell. To stay undefeated, he will have to make another leap up in competition at UFC 108 on Jan. 2, when he'll take on perennial divisional star Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
10. Shane Carwin (11-0)
Lesnar's ongoing illness has forced Carwin to wait for his UFC heavyweight title shot. Rather than getting his crack at UFC 106 on Nov. 21, Carwin's shot will come whenever Brock Lesnar is able to recover from his bout with mononucleosis.
Other contenders: Randy Couture, Aleksander Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Ben Rothwell, Fabricio Werdum.