The Gauge has never been purely about who is the best inside the cage. That’s what we have fighter rankings for. Instead, this feature has always highlighted those who make the headlines, for better or worse, during the previous month.

That could mean a great performance in the Octagon, a tip of the hat to a retiring UFC star, a sad goodbye to a fighter who was taken from this world prematurely, or it could even involve a crashed Bentley.

May provided a lot of tough decisions for these rankings. With Jamie Varner returning triumphantly to the UFC and Alan Belcher realizing new heights amongst the middleweights, and “The Korean Zombie” continuing his climb up the featherweight ladder, it left little room for Cain Velasquez and Roy Nelson.

While we admit that we’re cheating a little bit here by factoring in the June 1 The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale, perhaps Martin Kampmann’s win over Jake Ellenberger will allow him to crack next month’s top 10. Whereas Michael Chiesa’s victory at the finale was the culmination of a lengthy run through a reality series that spanned the month of May, Kampmann’s victory technically hits the radar in June only.

With that cleared up, who impacted the sport of MMA the most for the month of May? Let’s find out…

1. Jon Jones

Apparently, owning a Bentley can get you in a tad bit of trouble, especially if you’re a 24-year-old UFC champion who prefers to drive as if he’s playing Need for Speed. The suddenly troubled Jones found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in May, as his prior driving record, his mug shot and the young ladies in the car with him all became the talk of the MMA world after Jones was arrested for driving while intoxicated after crashing his high-end car into a utility pole in Binghamton, N.Y. Showing his age, Jones even drew more criticism for his botched attempt on Facebook at an apology to his fans. It surely isn’t the route any fighter wants to take to the top of The Gauge, but that’s where Jones’ troubles have landed him.

2. Michael Chiesa

If heart-warming stories of success are your thing, look no further than The Ultimate Fighter: Live champion Michael Chiesa. Just hours after making it into the TUF house, Chiesa lost his father to leukemia. UFC president Dana White allowed Chiesa to take a leave from the house to attend the services and spend some time grieving with his family, but allowed him to return. What followed gave the reality series its one standout storyline for the season: a fighter overcoming loss and carrying out his father’s dying wish to continue fighting. Chiesa did more than just continue to fight; he went on to win the entire tournament. Chiesa capped off an impressive run through the bracket by putting Al Iaquinta to sleep with a rear-naked choke at the finale. While the whole cast for the season deserves a nod of recognition, Chiesa will be remembered as this season’s star.

3. Dustin Jenson

Some of you are probably wondering who Dustin Jenson is, and how someone we’ve never seen set foot inside a ring in a professional bout could make it into these rankings, let alone as high as the No. 3 spot. Well, Jenson was an amateur fighter who participated in an unsanctioned event in South Dakota. He went on to suffer a seizure 45 minutes after tapping out to a triangle choke. Doctors performed surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, but it wasn’t enough, as Jenson was pronounced dead just six days after the fight. Jenson’s tragic end highlights the need for improved oversight in MMA. It will be weeks before we know the results of Jenson’s autopsy, but perhaps a more detailed screening process and a proper medical presence at the event would have made all the difference.

4. Daniel Cormier

From alternate to champion, so goes the story of Cormier’s run in Strikeforce’s Heavyweight Grand Prix. Cormier replaced Alistair Overeem in the tournament, and defeated Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva to earn his way to a finals match-up with Josh Barnett. Barnett might have had the experience edge, but Cormier proved he could hang with the division’s elite. The champion still has a contractual obligation for one more fight in Strikeforce, but it might not be long until he’s knocking on the door of the UFC champion.

5. Jamie Varner

The last edition of these rankings, back in February (yes, this feature has been on hiatus), saw Varner slip in at No. 10 for his victory at XFC 16. The win did more than earn him a quick month’s worth of attention, it brought Varner back to the Octagon. The former WEC lightweight kingpin was all but counted out going into his fight with Edson Barboza, a rising lightweight prospect. Varner proved his detractors and doubters wrong, scoring a first-round TKO to announce his return.

6. Chan Sung Jung

“The Korean Zombie” has become somewhat of a polarizing figure thanks to his feud with former sponsor Tri-Coasta. However, inside the cage there is no denying that Jung is putting together an impressive resume. After avenging a prior loss to Leonard Garcia, Jung defeated a recent title challenger in Mark Hominick via knockout in just seven seconds, and in May, he added a brabo choke submission victory over potential title challenger Dustin Poirier. The two wins make a strong case for “The Korean Zombie” earning a shot at the title in the near future.

7. Junior dos Santos

How can a heavyweight champion who scored a TKO victory land so low in the rankings, you might ask. Well, the answer lies in his opponent. Dos Santos was to fight Alistair Overeem, but Overeem’s failed drug test led to a shuffling of the UFC 146 card that landed Frank Mir the title bid. Needless to say, the anticipation level for Mir was nowhere near as great as it was for Overeem challenging dos Santos.

8. Alan Belcher

Just when Belcher was starting to gain momentum with wins over Wilson Gouveia and Patrick Cote in 2009 and 2010 respectively, emergency eye surgery landed him on the shelf and in doubt of his future in the cage. It looks like Belcher has gained back his momentum, first with a win over Jason MacDonald, and now, most impressively, with his win this May at UFC on Fox 3 over Rousimar Palhares.

9. Nate Diaz

While brother Nick is busy fighting athletic commissions and his own self-destructive behavior, Nate Diaz has steadily climbed the ranks of the UFC’s lightweight division. Diaz secured his place in line for a lightweight title shot with a win over perennial contender Jim Miller in the headliner of May’s UFC on Fox 3 event. Diaz will have to learn patience though, as the 155-pound title picture is crowded at the moment.

10. Kenny Florian

At the weigh-ins for The Ultimate Fighter: Live Finale, Florian officially bid adieu to the 4 oz. gloves and a full-time hello to the broadcast booth. Although Florian never captured UFC gold, he remained a top lightweight and, more recently, featherweight contender for much of his time with the promotion.

Photo: Jon Jones at the UFC 145 open workouts (James Law/Heavy MMA)