Every month, The MMA Corner will break 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 June 2011? Read on to find out…

1. Cheick Kongo

There’s nothing like an unbelievable comeback KO for the ages to get people talking. You know it’s a good one when major MMA news sites even publish interviews with the referee crediting him for not stopping the fight too early. In what turned out, at the last minute, to be the main event of UFC Live 4, Kongo was staggered so severely that referee Dan Miragliotta was already making his move to save the big man from taking any more damage at the hands of opponent Pat Barry. However, at the very last split second, Miragliotta changed his mind based on the observation that many of Barry’s strikes were missing their mark and Kongo was looking to grab Barry’s leg. Seconds later, it was Kongo’s fist putting Barry to sleep instead.

2. Charlie Brenneman

Nate Marquardt’s misfortunes led to Brenneman’s big opportunity, and “The Spaniard” did not disappoint. Moving from the prelim card of UFC Live 4 into a co-headlining matchup with welterweight contender Rick Story on a day’s notice, Brenneman utilized wrestling to neutralize his opponent and earned a unanimous decision victory.

3. Junior Dos Santos

He might not have entered the Octagon with fellow Ultimate Fighter coach Brock Lesnar, as originally scheduled, but in some fans’ eyes that was a good thing. Dos Santos instead drew Shane Carwin at UFC 131. Dos Santos took a unanimous decision over Carwin and, with the win, earns a shot at UFC heavyweight kingpin Cain Velasquez.

4. Josh Barnett

Barnett did what he was expected to do in submitting Brett Rogers in a Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix quarterfinal bout at “Overeem vs. Werdum.” While the win was a big one, and the attempt at a post-fight pro-wrestling style promo fell flat, the real reason Barnett ranks this high is due to his return to relevant action within the U.S. borders and a major promotion.

5. Jorge Masvidal

Masvidal did what everyone outside of Nick Diaz has struggled to do: out-strike the boxer, K.J. Noons. The impressive win at “Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum” puts Masvidal’s name at the top of the list of potential challengers to Gilbert Melendez’s Strikeforce lightweight crown.

6. Alistair Overeem

It wasn’t the most thrilling bout, as Overeem edged out Fabricio Werdum in the main event of Strikeforce’s “Overeem vs. Werdum” event. We’re used to the “Demolition Man” demolishing opponents, rather than engaging in a tentative striking affair. Regardless of the disappointing action in the cage, the reigning Strikeforce heavyweight champion did pick up the win, advancing him to the next round of Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament.

7. Clay Guida

Guida is a huge fan-favorite known for his hair and his endless gas tank. What he was not known for until this month was his ability to defeat top-tier foes. First, in January, he posted a win over former Pride champion Takanori Gomi and now, at the TUF 13 Finale, a huge win over former WEC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis. Guida has upped his game lately, which is good news for fans, who can now look forward to seeing the Energizer bunny of MMA in even more important lightweight battles.

8. Tony Ferguson

“El Cucuy” might not have emerged from The Ultimate Fighter 13 as a well-liked fighter, but at the TUF 13 Finale, he did emerge as the winner of the UFC contract with a first-round knockout of Ramsey Nijem. The welterweight enters a tough division in the UFC, but for now he’s enjoying the high-profile status as a TUF champion.

9. Kenny Florian

Florian, a longtime lightweight title contender, added his name to the featherweight ranks recently. At UFC 131, he notched a win in his debut at 145. Florian adds an interesting and marketable instant contender to the lighter weight class.

10. (tie) Daniel Cormier and Chad Griggs

Cormier and Griggs continued to raise their stock within Strikeforce with wins over veteran fighters at “Overeem vs. Werdum.” Griggs was the more surprising victor of the night, submitting Valentijn Overeem via punches. Cormier needed the judges to award him a victory, but his performance against former UFC heavyweight title contender Jeff Monson was also impressive. Success has been expected for Cormier, but Griggs is showing himself to be a tough opponent as well.

Photo: Pat Barry (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)