The latest NorCal MMA Pound-for-Pound Top 10 has been released via Nitesh Dutt of Comcast SportsNet, and a couple of us here at SB Nation Bay Area voted on it. Most of the fighters in the ballot also fight out of or train out of the Bay Area as well, so it's plenty relevant, don'tchaknow! It's been a strong couple of months for the region in general - unless you happen to be a welterweight, in which case Johny Hendricks probably pisses you off a whole bunch.
Or if you happen to be Nick Diaz, who is suspended, or King Mo, who is ... somewhere. Doing something. But yeah, outside of them, it's generally been strong. From Cain Velasquez massacring Antonio Silva like he nailed his mom to Nate Diaz trying to force Jim Miller to literally swallow his tongue, the Bay Area is rolling.
At any rate, here's how I personally voted (with a little bit of information after each selection, too)
1. Nate Diaz - Diaz's finish of Jim Miller is way more impressive every time I watch it. Sure, maybe Miller could have stuck it out and not tapped had he had his mouth guard in, but Diaz looks like a different fighter every time he's out there. Miller only loses to the very best out there, and fought a somewhat close decision against Benson Henderson. Diaz is right there in title talks.
2. Cain Velasquez - It will take more than overwhelming Antonio Silva to make people think that the same thing will work on someone like Junior dos Santos, but nobody can claim that Velasquez doesn't have a shot to get the title back sooner rather than later.
3. Urijah Faber - Definitely a shame that Faber isn't fighting Cruz any longer. He showed in his last fight that he's still getting better and might have more to offer.
4. Gilbert Melendez - Despite struggles in his last outing, Melendez has shown nothing less than the fact that he'll beat who's in front of him.
5. Joseph Benevidez - Is his opponent Dominick Cruz? No? Then he's getting a win.6. Jon FitchWhen ranking Fitch above Koscheck, I consider who I think would win a fight between one another. They're both having it rough, so Fitch gets the pass.
7. Josh Koscheck - Has he peaked? It's possible, but for now he gets a pass because the guy he just lost to knocked out the guy above him.
8. Chad Mendes - Mendes clearly needs to go back to the drawing board, but so does everybody else after they fight Jose Aldo.
9. Daniel Cormier - Maybe casual MMA fans don't get how big the Barnett win was, but the rest of us do. That was impressive as it gets right now.
10. Mark Munoz - It was hard to not put Rockhold here, but seeing him best Jardine like that did nothing but temper some of the excitement following the Jacare win. Munoz is an excellent fighter who will be in contention for awhile longer.
Another quick note on the list ... it was really hard to not include Luke Rockhold, and I also stressed with keeping Fitch on the list. Upon further reflection, I might include Michael McDonald, given his impressive outing against Miguel Torres. And here is how one of our contributors who also had an affect on the final ballot, Bill Hanstock, voted (with his explanation at the end).
1. Cain Velasquez
2. Nate Diaz
3, Michael McDonald
4. Daniel Cormier
5. Gilbert Melendez
6. Josh Thomson
7. Joseph Benavidez
8. Mark Munoz
9. Luke Rockhold
10. Josh Koscheck
Of all the Bay Area fighters, Cain Velasquez is clearly the best and most dominant fighter at this moment. It's just a shame that the only fighter better than him in the weight class is the champ, whom he can't beat. Nate Diaz and Michael McDonald both look fantastic at the moment and Daniel Cormier could be a legitimate rising star with his sudden resurgence. Melendez didn't look particularly impressive in a close fight against Thomson. Rockhold has the best record of all Bay Area fighters over the past year, but his quality of opponents is clearly on a lower level than those of the fighters I ranked above him.
So what do you think? Tweet us if you disagree, and don't forget to check out the official list here.