1. Anderson Silva
The Ultimate Fighting Championship Middleweight Champion, Silva has done nothing but win since debuting in the promotion midway through 2006, finishing all five of his fights decisively. He recently emphasized his dominance with a second dismantling of former champion Rich Franklin. Silva has gone 8-1 in his last nine fights, his lone loss during that span being a disqualification loss to Yushin Okami in a fight he was otherwise dominating.
2. Paulo Filho
Not many fighters remain undefeated in mixed martial arts, but somehow, Filho has managed to do that en route to a 15-0 record. He had a banner year in 2006 with wins over Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Ryo Chonan and Kazuo Misaki. Out of action for the early part of 2007, Filho debuted in August for World Extreme Cagefighting capturing its middleweight title with a TKO stoppage of Joe Doerksen.
3. Matt Lindland
Lindland amassed a 9-3 record in the UFC before disputes led to a parting of ways a little more than two years ago. He hasn’t lost a middleweight bout since the separation, including quality wins over fighters like Jeremy Horn and Carlos Newton. He has had a difficult time finding bouts against other top middleweights on a consistent basis though, as most are tied up in various promotions, while Lindland remains independent.
4. Rich Franklin
Despite the dismantlings by Silva, Franklin has otherwise remained a consistent force in the middleweight division with wins over top fighters like Okami, Jason MacDonald and Dave Loiseau. Silva has really been the only fighter to dominate him.
5. Denis Kang
His recent knockout loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama was only the second defeat that Kang has suffered since early 2003, a span consisting of 24 bouts. His only other loss during that time was a split decision to Misaki. Kang established himself with wins over Amar Suloev, Murilo Rua, and Akihiro Gono while fighting for Pride FC.
6. Robbie Lawler
Lawler left the UFC following a two-fight skid in 2004, but has since resurrected his career amassing a 7-1 post-Octagon record. Three of his most recent wins include Murilo Rua, Frank Trigg and Joey Villasenor. The win over Trigg earned him the Icon Sport title and defeating Rua garnered Lawler the EliteXC belt.
7. Nathan Marquardt
The world’s only seven-time King of Pancrase, Marquardt made the move to the UFC in 2005. He quickly racked up a four-fight win streak that includes the likes of Doerksen, Ivan Salaverry and Dean Lister before running into the Anderson Silva roadblock in his most recent bout.
8. Kazuo Misaki
Despite losses to Filho and Dan Henderson in 2006, it was a cornerstone year in Misaki’s career. He otherwise defeated Kang to win the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix, avenged his loss to Henderson, and defeated Phil Baroni and Akira Shoji. Unfortunately for Misaki, he followed up the win over Kang with a loss to Trigg earlier this year and is awaiting a return to the ring.
9. Yushin Okami
Okami seemed to be working his way to a UFC title shot before dropping a decision to Franklin with a lackluster performance. His recent record still stands at 7-1 with wins over MacDonald, Mike Swick, Kalib Starnes and Alan Belcher.
10. Yoshihiro Akiyama
With an impressive performance in a K-1 Grand Prix last year, where he defeated Melvin Manhoef in the final, Akiyama established himself as a fighter to watch. He followed that up with a win over Kazushi Sakuraba, but had that fight ruled a no contest when he was accused of cheating. He bounced back in his most recent outing defeating Kang by knockout.