Official Press Release:
Orlando, Florida — Following Andrei Arlovski's first round knockout loss against WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko during last month's Affliction and M-1 “Day of Reckoning” event, the pollsters for the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA) have voted on a new number one heavyweight contender in its latest rankings release for the month of February.
The rankings, now available at GoWAMMA.com, feature Affliction-contracted heavyweight Josh Barnett (24-5) as the new top contender to the WAMMA heavyweight crown.
Published reports began to circulate soon after DOR that Affliction promoters were looking to sign a match this summer between Emelianenko and Barnett. A fight between the two has yet to be finalized but Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio stated in a video interview with the web site FiveOuncesOfPain.com that he was “hoping” to be able to make the match happen. If signed, it would go down as the first-ever head-to-head match between the two former PRIDE heavyweight stars.
To the surprise of almost no one, officials with WAMMA would have no hesitation regarding sanctioning a title fight between the two.
“While PRIDE's heavyweight champion, Fedor fought just about all of the top heavyweights on the promotion's roster including Mirko Cro Cop, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mark Coleman,” said WAMMA Chief Operating Officer Michael Lynch. “However, the one fight that never happened for various reasons was a showdown between Fedor and Barnett. I don't think there's a diehard fan in existence who wouldn't want to see that matchup take place.
“Barnett's resume speaks for itself and I can honestly tell you that if Affliction is able to make Fedor vs. Barnett happen, then WAMMA will be on board as far as sanctioning the fight as a heavyweight title bout.”
Another notable change in WAMMA's February rankings was the debut of Vitor Belfort as the ninth rated middleweight in the world.
The move into the top ten middleweights is another milestone in the talented Brazilian's remarkable MMA comeback. Once considered a consensus top ten light heavyweight, Belfort slowly began to fade due to personal issues as well as disappointing performances in the cage and ring.
However, since dropping to 185 pounds, Belfort has resurrected his career by going 2-0. Last month's win at DOR against then-sixth ranked Matt Lindland was enough to catapult Belfort into the top ten.
“Vitor apparently has been spending a lot of time at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas training with Shawn Tompkins and the hard work has certainly paid off,” said Lynch. “With one punch he was able to get people in the MMA industry clamoring for a match vs. Anderson Silva. Belfort's return to the top creates a lot of other potential future matchups that would carry a lot of intrigue. Who wouldn't want to see fights between Belfort and Gegard Mousasi or Robbie Lawler?”
There were also a couple of big moves in WAMMA's light heavyweight rankings. Lyoto Machida is now the new consensus number two ranked WAMMA light heavyweight behind only UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. Machida was able to make the move from four to two following his first round knockout of Thiago Silva last month at UFC 94.
Also, Renato “Babalu” Sobral's decisive victory over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at DOR caused WAMMA's collective group of pollsters to vote him as the tenth ranked light heavyweight in the world.
To see other notable changes feel free to go to GoWAMMA.com to see February's rankings in their entirety.
WAMMA's pollster committee — featuring nationally recognized MMA experts such as AOL MMA Fanhouse's Michael David Smith, Mike Straka of FoxNews.com's Fight Game, and Jon Anik of ESPN.com's MMA Live — will convene again on March 16.