MMA Power Rankings -- MIDDLEWEIGHT

Updated: May 7, 2012, 6:11 AM ET
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
Monday, May 7
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The conventional wisdom heading into a fight with Rousimar Palhares is to keep things standing unless you want to lose a limb. Alan Belcher didn't get the memo. Or, more likely, he heard the rumblings of this fierce ground specialist from Brazil and wanted to prove that we're a society of alarmists.

Well, he did. Belcher happily went to the mat with Palhares at UFC on Fox 3, and left his legs in precarious positions to be snatched. In the end, though, the "Talent" was able to roll out and wail on "Toquinho" with punches and elbows until the fight was stopped. Was he playing with fire, or building drama for his big breakout moment? Either way, that moment as arrived, and Belcher looks like he's primed for a title run at 185 pounds. His return fight after eye surgery against Jason MacDonald was enough to raise an eyebrow, but this one ... this one was a declaration.

Yet the guys in front of him all have dance partners right now. The UFC's most coveted new addition Hector Lombard will stake his 20-fight winning streak against Brian Stann. Mark Munoz will be fighting Chris Weidman in July. Vitor Belfort will be fighting Wanderlei Silva in June, while Michael Bisping will take on a rejuvenated Tim Boetsch at UFC 149. And of course the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, Anderson Silva, will be fighting Chael Sonnen at UFC 148. In a couple of months, the middleweight landscape will look totally different.

As for Belcher, he might have to wait for one of these fights to play out to figure out who it'll be next. And whoever it is will be in for a dogfight.