GSP's next order: former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2)
It’s finally happening. After months, even years of calls for dominant UFC 170-pound king St. Pierre to face off against Strikeforce counterpart Nick Diaz, the UFC has tabbed the match for UFC 137 on Oct. 29. GSP will enter his sixth title defense on a nine-fight tear, most recently having served Diaz teammate Jake Shields a five-round decision loss in April.
2. Jon Fitch (23-3-1, 1 NC)
Fitch would have had the chance to erase the first stalemate of his career in a rematch of his February draw with B.J. Penn. However, the rangy wrestler suffered a training injury in late March that was severe enough to force him from the July date. What matchup awaits him upon his return remains to be seen.
3. Jake Shields (26-5-1)
Shields’ five-year, 15-fight win streak came to an end on April 30, when he suffered the same fate as many UFC welterweight title contenders before him: a unanimous decision loss at the hands of Georges St. Pierre. While the Cesar Gracie product landed at times, St. Pierre’s striking prowess was too much for Shields to handle over the course of 25 minutes.
4. Josh Koscheck (15-5)
Koscheck’s crushing Dec. 11 defeat to Georges St. Pierre was not just figurative; it was literal. Following surgery to repair a smashed orbital bone, Koscheck will spend at least six months on the shelf before returning to action, potentially stepping back into the Octagon sometime this summer.
5. Nick Diaz (25-7, 1 NC)
Left without a clear-cut top contender after his April 9 dispatching of Paul Daley, the 27-year-old from Stockton, Calif., briefly turned his gaze toward the boxing ring. However, after reportedly being summoned to a Las Vegas meeting with Dana White, Diaz inked a new contract with the UFC and has vacated his Strikeforce belt. Diaz is now set for a major title collision with UFC champ Georges St. Pierre Oct. 29 in Las Vegas.
6. Carlos Condit (27-5)
In yet another dazzling performance, 27-year-old Condit became the first man to halt "Stun Gun" Dong Hyun Kim on July 2, mauling the previously unbeaten South Korean with a first-round flying knee and punches. Combined with his brutal October knockout of Dan Hardy, the onetime WEC welterweight champ has made a strong case for himself as a future UFC title challenger.
7. Charlie Brenneman (14-2)
A twist of fate took Brenneman from relative unknown to potential UFC title contender over the course of 48 hours in late June. Stepping up on just one day's notice to replace Nate Marquardt at UFC Live 4, the 30-year-old "Spaniard" halted the momentum of surging wrestler Rick Story in a three-round unanimous decision shocker.
8. Rick Story (13-4)
A replacement for the injured Anthony Johnson, Story found himself facing a new opponent on extremely short notice on June 26. When original foe Nate Marquardt was pulled from their bout the day before, Charlie Brenneman stepped in and stunned Story with constant work, takedowns and scrambles, decisioning the Brave Legion fighter after three rounds and snapping Story's six-fight Octagon win streak.
9. B.J. Penn (16-7-2)
Penn fought to a draw for just the second time in his career on Feb. 27, when he took tough welterweight stalwart Jon Fitch the distance at UFC 127. The pair would have danced again at July’s UFC 132, but Fitch was forced from the rematch with an injury. Penn also withdrew shortly thereafter due to shoulder problems.
10. Thiago Alves (18-8)
Having previously won seven consecutive UFC starts, Alves has recently fallen on hard times, dropping three of his last four on the judges’ scorecards. The Brazilian broke a two-fight skid which saw him fall to champion Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch with a December decisioning of John Howard, but was outpointed by up-and-comer Rick Story in their May 28 three-rounder.
Other contenders: Paul Daley, Ben Askren, Jake Ellenberger, Martin Kampmann, Diego Sanchez.
With the entry of Charlie Brenneman, previously 10th-ranked Paul Daley falls to the contenders list.
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