Every month, The MMA Corner breaks down the ten fighters who made the biggest impact on the sport within that month. This isn’t a traditional set of rankings or a pound-for-pound listing – rather, think of it as a “best month ever” top 10. Which fighters made their mark in August 2011? Read on to find out…

1. Anderson Silva

Silva’s ability to make other elite middleweights look like non-contenders has become somewhat ridiculous. Yushin Okami, Silva’s latest challenger, usually appears to be a top middleweight when he steps inside the Octagon. But that all changed when Silva stood opposite him at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Okami went from top tier to outclassed in a hurry.

While Fedor Emelianenko reached legendary status with a lengthy domination of both Pride’s top names and a mix of opponents with questionable credentials, “The Spider” has put down the best the UFC has been able to offer on a consistent basis. Sure, he’s offered up some stinkers – but only when his opponents were so outmatched that they refused to engage – and he did struggle against Chael Sonnen before submitting the outspoken contender, though injury could account for that sub-par performance. Even in avenging a loss, Silva managed to be unique: The loss came via disqualification.

Silva added to his legacy with the second-round TKO win over Okami. Now, only a fight against the winner of the fight between Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann, or the long-awaited superfight with welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre make sense for Silva.

2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

“Big Nog” entered his UFC 134 bout against Brendan Schaub as an underdog. After losing via some form of knockout in two of his last three outings, few viewed Nogueira as a top heavyweight anymore. That makes his knockout of rising contender Brendan Schaub even more significant.

Nogueira put on an impressive performance in front of his countrymen in Brazil, while also silencing any talk of Schaub receiving a title bid. Nogueira will have to prove himself against a more established contender next, but he proved that he’s not quite done yet.

3. Rashad Evans

Evans should have been fighting Phil Davis at UFC 133, but instead ended up in the cage against the suddenly resurgent Tito Ortiz. Evans scored the second-round TKO of Ortiz, ending the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s” short-lived return to contender status. Evans continually finds himself waiting for a chance at a title shot, and he might be back in that spot once again.

4. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

If there was one huge blemish on “Shogun’s” UFC resume, it would be his disappointing performance in his promotional debut at UFC 76 against Forrest Griffin. Rua was afforded the opportunity to avenge the loss in his native Brazil at UFC 134, and he did not disappoint.

While Griffin wore down Rua in their first meeting before securing a rear-naked choke to end the fight, Rua quickly ended the rematch. He needed just under two minutes to put away Griffin via knockout.

Rua might not fare well against Jon Jones – it seems unlikely that anybody would at the moment – but he proved that his confidence is still intact. Rua remains a top contender in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

5. Chris Lytle

Lytle could be one of the most unlikely fighters to make it this high into the rankings. Sure, he won a main event of a UFC show, but he defeated Dan Hardy, who has experienced a steep fall from contender status. What makes Lytle’s win so special, however, is the fact that he announced that it would be his last fight ever.

Lytle always delivered entertaining performances, and his UFC Live 5 bout with Hardy was no different. Lytle’s outpointing of Hardy throughout the fight forced the Brit into desperation mode, and that desperation resulted in Hardy leaving himself open for the fight-ending guillotine choke.

Lytle’s goodbye was emotional, but he went out on a high note and the fans certainly showed their appreciation.

6. Benson Henderson

In the lead-up to UFC Live 5, the spotlight was focused on Henderson’s opponent, Jim Miller. Miller was riding a seven-fight winning streak and appeared overdue for his shot at the lightweight title. His fight with Henderson was looked at as more deserving of headliner status than Lytle’s bout with Hardy.

But then came the surprise: Miller was completely ineffective against Henderson. For the entirety of their fight, Miller seemed tentative. His best moments came in the stand-up exchanges, but Miller did not seem determined to keep the fight on the feet. Instead, Henderson out-wrestled the New Jersey native and displayed stellar submission defense en route to a unanimous decision win.

A former WEC lightweight champion, Henderson had instead come to be remembered for his part on the wrong side of a highlight-reel kick delivered by Anthony Pettis in the WEC’s last-ever show. The win over Miller raises Henderson’s stock and puts him right back into the contender mix. It will be hard to ever forget the “Showtime Kick,” but Henderson sure is trying to erase that memory from the minds of the fans.

7. Donald Cerrone

Since transitioning from the WEC to the UFC, Cerrone has managed three wins inside the Octagon. His most recent came via TKO against Charles Oliveira at UFC Live 5. Cerrone has already stepped up to accept another fight, replacing Sam Stout against Dennis Siver at October’s UFC 137 event.

Cerrone was a perpetual contender in the WEC’s lightweight division, and it appears that he’s headed for the same status in his new home in the UFC.

8. Pat Curran

Curran was likely on his way to a loss against Marlon Sandro had their fight at Bellator 48 gone to the judges. But Curran made sure that didn’t happen, delivering a head kick late in the second round that knocked out Sandro. The win came in the Summer Series featherweight tournament finals, landing Curran a nice chunk of change and a shot at Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren.

9. Stanislav Nedkov

Nedkov entered UFC 134 as a hyped prospect with an undefeated record, but he was fighting Luiz Cane, an opponent many expected to end Nedkov’s run. Instead, the Bulgarian delivered a first-round TKO to maintained his spotless record and serve notice to the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

10. Vitor Belfort

Belfort bounced back from a devastating loss to Anderson Silva with a first-round knockout of Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. Belfort is still a top contender in the middleweight division, but the only problem is that Anderson Silva sits atop the weight class.

Top Photo: Anderson Silva (movingmind.org)