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 October 2011? Read on to find out…

1. Nick Diaz

The last time Diaz set foot inside the Octagon, he wasn’t considered a championship-caliber fighter. However, his time away from the UFC has spelled enormous growth for the Stockton native. Diaz returned to the UFC after a dominant reign as the Strikeforce welterweight champion and silenced any doubt about his ability to step up against the top dogs of the UFC’s 170-pound division. At UFC 137, Diaz made a strong statement with his three-round beating of the legendary B.J. Penn en route to a unanimous decision win, subsequently sending Penn into retirement.

Diaz also strengthened the hype surrounding his future meeting with UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre, as he suggested that GSP is afraid to fight.  Dana White even granted Diaz the next shot on Super Bowl weekend, allowing the Cesar Gracie product to leapfrog Carlos Condit. It makes for a showdown between the two which will be a highly anticipated main event draw. The only question is whether Diaz can make it to his media commitments and hold on to the shot, otherwise Condit might swoop back in to reclaim what he feels is now rightfully his title bid.

2. Frankie Edgar

Frankie Edgar (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The UFC’s reigning lightweight champion has a knack for surprising everyone. First, it was his showing against B.J. Penn to claim the belt. Then it was the improved performance he had in their rematch. Next it was his ability to recover from a complete mauling in the first round of his title defense against Gray Maynard in January to battle back and save his title reign with the judges scoring the bout a draw.

At UFC 136, he again displayed an ability to improve in an immediate rematch. At the same time, he had to overcome adversity in the form of an eerily similar first-round beating as the one he sustained in the January encounter with Maynard. Not only did Edgar recover, but he scored the knockout victory in the end to defend his championship.

3. Chael Sonnen

PED drug suspensions and legal troubles had kept Sonnen on the sidelines for more than a year, but his return at UFC 136 put him right back into the middleweight mix in the UFC. Sonnen submitted Brian Stann at the event and wasted little time in calling out Anderson Silva. A rematch between the two would be one of the more interesting match-ups that can be made for the dominant middleweight champion and would give Sonnen a chance at redemption, as well as the ability to run his mouth in a high-profile setting.

4. Donald Cerrone

There’s no doubt that Cerrone is a talented lightweight fighter, but he always fell short in the WEC title picture, taking a back seat to Jamie Varner and then Ben Henderson. It looks like Cerrone isn’t done being a title contender just yet. This time he is aiming at UFC gold, and his winning streak inside the Octagon is quite impressive. Headlining the Spike Prelim broadcast for UFC 137, Cerrone disposed of fellow contender Dennis Siver. Cerrone rocked the German several times before finishing via rear-naked choke.

Cerrone has now netted a Knockout of the Night, Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night bonus in his time with the UFC. He has also posted four wins with the promotion against increasingly difficult competition. There’s no doubt that he has quickly climbed into title contention.

He’s also remaining busy, agreeing to one more fight before the year’s end, a bout with Nate Diaz at UFC 141.

5. Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller

The two Ultimate Fighter coaches have started to turn on the tension as the season has gone on. From Miller’s water bottle squirt, a move that Bisping called childish despite the fact that it was something he did in his last TUF coaching stint, to the near brawl at the fight announcements, these two are upping the hype for their eventual meeting.

6. Dominick Cruz

Cruz successfully defended his UFC bantamweight championship on free television at UFC Live 6. The champ earned a unanimous decision over challenger Demetrious Johnson. Next in line for Cruz will likely be the winner of the upcoming bout between Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles.

7. Jose Aldo

Aldo, much like Cruz, has become a champion who turns back all challengers. At UFC 136, he ended Kenny Florian’s hopes of dropping to a new division and finally claiming a championship. Aldo’s performances have not been quite as riveting as those on the blue mat of the WEC, however.

8. Joe Lauzon

Lauzon came through as a huge spoiler at UFC 136. Melvin Guillard had seemingly put things together for a legitimate run at a title bid, but Lauzon ended those dreams by rocking Guillard and finishing him off with a rear-naked choke submission.

While Lauzon has an impressive record and picked up a huge win over Guillard, it’s hard to see him anywhere near title contention. He has become a great spoiler, as he also ruined Jens Pulver’s UFC return back in 2006. However, after debuting with three straight Octagon wins, Lauzon has failed to string more than two victories together without sustaining defeat.

9. The Ultimate Fighter 14 cast

The TUF 14 fighters continue to battle on Spike TV. While the featherweights and bantamweights are featured on the show, this might also be a showcase for the future flyweight division the UFC is planning on adding. John Dodson and Louis Gaudinot are among the top-ranked flyweights in the world, after all.

10. Anthony Johnson

Charlie Brenneman had suddenly vaulted up the welterweight contender ladder with his win over Rick Story, but Johnson head-kicked him back to Earth at UFC Live 6. It was Johnson’s second win of the year and gives him five victories in his last six outings.

Top Photo: Nick Diaz (Sherdog)