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KJ Power Rankings - March 2014

By Staff | Knuckle Junkies

There have been two editions of the KJ Power Rankings since August of 2013 and each has come with an avalanche of opinions - mostly negative - from our readers.

This is our first of 2014 and it is missing a familiar name. Alp Ozkilic has been in the top 3 since we launched the rankings, but his recent relocation to New York and much like other big-name fighters with St. Louis ties (Michael Chandler, Michael Johnson, and Justin Lawrence) has made him ineligible.

Depending on the amount of action the staff at will pick the top professional fighters in the area and then rank, pound-for-pound, them 1 thru 10.

The voting panel for the KJ Power Rankings include: writers Brett Auten, Matt Frazier, and Debo; along with photographers Jim Range, Sara Levin and Chris Oth.

The criteria the voters are given to choose their top ten is as follows: overall talent level, skill, and accomplishments; national buzz/overall notoriety and recent activity/momentum along with a dash of personal bias.

Fighters are given 10 points for a first place vote, nine points for a second place vote, and so on while the overall point total will determine the top 10.

For the complete voting breakdown, along with first place votes and on the bubble fighters, see the very bottom.

1: Tyron Woodley (13-2)
No surprise here. Woodley, ranked No. 3 in the world, is coming off a TKO win over Carlos Condit and is rumored to face Rory MacDonald in June in Canada for what would surely be a No. 1 contender bout for the UFC welterweight champion.

2: Josh Sampo (11-3)
Sampo suffered his first UFC loss to Zak Makovsky in February. The St. Charles MMA flyweight and 2013 St. Louis MMA Awards Fighter of the Year will likely return to The Octagon in the not-so-distant future.

3: Andrew Sanchez (5-1)
Jettisoning into the top three, Sanchez has ran through both RFA opponents he has faced, finishing them both. The Finneys MMA fighter will slug it out for the RFA middleweight title against Kevin Casey at some point in 2014. Sanchez has garnered the eye of several major media outlets as wind is quickly spreading about El Dirte.

4: Alex White (9-0)
White continues to win, and this includes a recent pro boxing debut. He is scheduled to face Robert Washington in a boxing match in May. The Destruction MMA product joins Nick Lobosco as the only unbeaten pro fighters with more than five fights in the St. Louis region.

5: Chris Heatherly (7-1)
Heatherly is coming off a no-contest bout in his RFA debut when Chidi Njokuani elbowed the Bergers MMA/Fit or Fight welterweight in the spine. Before the foul, Heatherly was having his way against the taller, longer Njokuani. Never one to shy away from a big fight or quality opponent, three of Stumps last four opponents have been Alex Garcia, Dakota Cochrane and Njokuani.

6: Luigi Fioravanti (24-11)
The Italian Tank is on the prowl for his first fight of 2014. His last fight was against Josh Thorpe for in October to win an unanimous decision win. Never one to cower away from a fight, the Finneys MMA fighter has an impressive resume and he is eager to add to it as the year goes on.

7: Lance Benoist (6-2)
Arguably second only to Woodley when it comes to pure talent, Benoist returns to the UFC cage in June when faces fellow Missourian Bobby Voelker in June. That bout will end an almost two-year layoff for the St. Charles MMA welterweight. Benoist broke his leg in training last year while getting ready for a fight against Paulo Thiago.

8: Jake Collier (7-1)
Collier has been banged up and out of action since May, 2013 but will hopefully make his RFA debut in the late spring or summer. Rumors are swirling about the Smith Pitts middleweight taking on John Hackleman Jr., the son of the famed MMA coach. Colliers last two wins have been against Cully Butterfield (13-3) and Quartus Stitt

9: EJ Brooks (7-2)
Brooks was set to have his second RFA fight in March before his opponent pulled out with a possible career-ending injury. The St. Charles MMA lightweight is in need of a win after losing two-straight. He began his career 7-0. Brooks usually spends his summer in Florida training at the original American Top Team. Here is to hoping he returns to the RFA cage soon.

10: Adam Cella (5-2)
Cella, out of Finneys MMA, lost a grueling fight to Lucas Gwaltney in March via TKO in the final seconds of the third round, but exposure on the Ultimate Fighter has made Cella a household name.

Total points with first place votes in ()
Woodley 57 (5)
Sampo 53 (1)
Sanchez 47
White 37
Stump 32
Fioravanti 25
Benoist 24
Collier 13
Brooks 11
Cella 10

On the bubble: Ken Porter, Dan OConnor, Eric Irvin