Breaking Down the UFC Light Heavyweight Division

The Champion: Forrest Griffin

The Top Contender: Rashad Evans

The Next Tier:

·         Wanderlei Silva

·         Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

·         Lyoto Machida

·         Thiago Silva

·         Rich Franklin

·         Dan Henderson

·         Keith Jardine

·         Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

·         Chuck Liddell

·         Luis Arthur Cane

·         Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

 

On the Rise: 

·         Luis Arthur Cane

 

Other Notables:

·         Brandon Vera

·         Mat Hamill

·         Stephan Bonnar

·         Jon Jones

·         Tim Boetsch

·         Steve Cantwell

·         Brian Stann

·         James Irvin

·         Eric Schafer

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Steve Cantwell vs. Razak Al-Hussan at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Forrest Griffin vs. Rashad Evans @ UFC 92 on December 28 (For Title)

·         Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Matt Hamill vs. Reese Andy @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson @ UFC 93 on January

·         Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Mark Coleman @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Andre Gusmao vs. Antonio Mendes @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Ivan Serati vs. Tomasz Drwal @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Jon Jones vs. Stephan Bonnar @ UFC 93 on January 17

·         Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva @ UFC 94 on January 31

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Luis Cane vs. Keith Jardine

·         Brandon Vera vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

 

Other Thoughts:

·         There are rumors of a Anderson Silva vs. Chuck Liddell match up at UFC 95

·         There are a lot of light heavyweight contenders and the match ups are being set.  The winner of Wanderlei vs. Rampage should get the next title shot, although the winner of Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva should be considered as well. 

·         We are waiting for the debut of rumored UFC signee Glover Teixeira who has been having visa troubles in Brazil. 

·         The UFC could sign former EliteXC light heavyweight Rafael Feijao, which would be a big time contender.

·         The UFC has a clear monopoly on the light heavyweight division.  There are only a few fighters worth a  dime in this division not in the UFC (Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Vladimir Matyushenko, Ricardo Arona, Tito Ortiz, and Renato “Babalu” Sobral)

·         I looks like two solid light heavyweights have dropped to middleweight in Goran Reljic and Wilson Gouveia

·         The Ultimate Fighter 8 which featured light heavyweights is sure to place a few good fighters in the divison, but it will take time for them to climb the ladder.  Watch out for guys like Ryan Bader, Vinny Magalhes, Kryztof Soszynski, and Eliot Marshall.

·         It is somewhat possible to see Randy Couture take a few fights at light heavyweight and also to see Anderson Silva fight at 205 more often in 2009

 

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My UFC 87 Thoughts and Results

  • Georges St. Pierre defeats Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
  • Brock Lesnar defeats Heath Herring via Unanimous Decision
  • Kenny Florian defeats Roger Huerta via Unanimous Decision
  • Demian Maia defeats Jason MacDonald via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • Rob Emerson defeats Manny Gamburyan via Knockout in Round One
  • Tamdan McCrory defeats Luke Cummo via Unanimous Decision
  • Cheick Kongo defeats Dan Evensen via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
  • Jon Jones defeats Andre Gusmao via Unanimous Decision
  • Chris Wilson defeats Steve Bruno via Unanimous Decision
  • Ben Saunders defeats Ryan Thomas via Submission (Armbar) in Round One
  • * I had a good night as far as predictions go, I predicted 8 of 10 correctly. 

    Submission of the Night: Demian Maia
    Knockout of the Night: Rob Emerson
    Fight of the Night: GSP & Jon Fitch ($60k each)

    My Disappointment of the Night: Manny Gamburyan or Andre Gusmao

    My Thoughts:

    • The Maia McDonald fight was a great battle in round one especially.  Maia is awesome.  I am seriously a believer.  I think he is a top flight middleweight and can contend for the belt.  His submissions are sick, he showed some great ground and pound skills.  He stood toe to toe.  Maia is a real deal fighter and he will get some respect now.
    • The Huerta vs. Florian fight was a good fight, but it wasn’t the fight of the year that it was billed to be.  I scored the fight 30-27 Florian as did the judges.  I believe the score doesn;t show how close the fight was, but Florian was clearly more technical and better all around.  Florian is now officially the number one contender in the UFC lightweight divison
    • Who would have predicted Emerson to KO Manny in 12 seconds?  I was disappointed with that.
    • Cheick Kongo is huge and I am glad his fight made it onto the card.  He looked good againt Evensen.  He is a top ten maybe top 5 heavyweight.  However, why call for the belt after you beat Dan Evensen?  Sorry Cheick get in line behind Werdum and beat someone of note.  You need some type of win streak to get a title shot. 
    • Brock Lesnar silenced any doubters.  He showed he has the skills to fight, and not just fight, but to win.  And not just to win, but to win against top tier fighters.  He has a lot of areas to improve upon.  He need to improve his submission skills.  He had a dominant position countless times and did nothing with it.  That comes from his wrestling background.  He needs to learn something about keeping the mount and dropping elbows.  He is strong as an ox.  He hits hard.  Man was that first punch hard!  I thought it was funny in the countdown Herring said, “I have fought bigger, stronger, better and more accomplished wrestlers.”  He was wrong.  He has not fought a wrestler of Brock’s calibur and strength and Brock dominated him.
    • I was disappointed with Lesnar’s WWE antics and unsportsman like conduct.   He shoved Herring away after round 1.  He acted like Herring at the end of the fight.  He pointed at him and laughed afterwards.  He acted like he was lasoing him.  I don’t have a problem with some of that.  I know adrenaline gets pumping and I know other fighters do things like act like the are burying a guy or the Barnett throat cut, but Lesnar needs to learn respect for his opponent. 
    • Speaking of respect for opponents how about the St. Pierre vs. Fitch fight.  A possible fight of the year candidate.  Fitch was out of his league.  He looked good a few minutes during the fight, but St. Pierre dominated.  The story following this is not as much St. Pierre winning and keeping his belt as it is Fitch’s toughness.  Fitch is one tough dude.  I gained respect for him.  How about the show of class between these two after the fight?  That is why I like St. Pierre. 
    • It looks like Penn vs. St. Pierre will indeed happen, hopefully in December.  Wow!  What a fight that will be. 

    UFC News: Wanderlei Silva to Return in December

    According to MMA Junkie, Wanderlei Silva has been told by UFC officials to prepare for a December return.  It appears he will be on the December 27 card which will feature a heavyweight title match between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as well as a possible match between B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre.  This is what Wandy had to say:

    “I’m talking with (UFC co-owner) Lorenzo (Fertitta), they’re talking about December because it is the best event of the year. (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira is going to fight (Frank) Mir for the belt for the heavyweights. This is the best event. It’s much more promotion. They told me to be ready to fight in December. They gave me 10 (possible) names. My division is the best division in the world. They have so many names. I think they’re going to give a good opponent to me. I wanted to fight [Jackson] again and I think it’s a very good match. For me, I have time to fight for the belt in the future, no problem, I’m going to wait for my opportunity. I’m going to give my best on every fight. After I win my fights, I’m going to have an opportunity to fight for the belt. For me, no problem, I’ll fight with everybody.”

    So, the question is who will he fight in December.  Process of elimination may help.  We would figure he would get a top 10-15 opponent seeing as how he just beat a top guy in Jardine.

    • Lyoto Machida is booked for a fight with Thiago Silva
    • Rameau Theirry Sokoudjou is booked for a fight with Luis Cane
    • Brandon Vera is booked for a fight with Keith Jardine
    • Chuck Liddell is booked for a fight with Rashad Evans
    • Shogun should return in December, but Wanderlei won’t fight him
    • Dan Henderson is booked for a fight at UFC 88
    • Rich Franklin is booked to fight Matt Hamill at UFC 88

    That leaves Forrest Griffin, Quinton Jackson, Stephan Bonnar and Goran Reljic

    • I wouldn’t object to Wanderlei getting the title shot, but it isn’t likely yet.  They train together also, but I am sure they would fight if the price is right, but I doubt they can push aside Machida for Silva.
    • Stephan Bonnar may be a good option as he should return by that date, but I don’t know if he is the calibur that Silva wants to fight.  He wants someone to get him into contention
    • Goran Reljic os good and also possible, but not likely because he isn’t ranked high enough
    • Quinton Jackson has to be the most likely but seeing as how he has all sorts of legal problems, I don’t know if it will happen.
    • The other option is a quick turn around for someone fighting in Semptember like Chuck Liddell, Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin or Matt Hamill, or even Andre Gusmao.  Any of those would be interesting and UFC 88 may dictate Silva’s opponent. 
    • The final option is some new to the UFC guy.  A new signing could be possible, but it is unlikely it would be someone that could jump right in and be cosndiered Silva level.  Someone like Vladimir Matyushenko is possible, but not likely.

     

    UFC News: Rich Franklin To Fight At UFC 88 At Light Heavyweight

    It appears that Rich Franklin will next fight on the UFC 88 card in Atlanta, which headlines Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans. 

    A source closed to the Sept. 6 event tells MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that Franklin has been targeted for the event, and the search for an opponent “is in full swing.” Franklin will likely be slotted for UFC 88’s co-main event. Franklin, who lost his title and a subsequent rematch to current middleweight champ Anderson Silva, most recently scored a second-round TKO of Travis Lutter at UFC 83. 

    This brings about several question…

    1. Will the move to Light Heavyweight be permanent? (If at all)

    I doubt it would be permanent.  He needs to stay away from Anderson Silva.  If Rich, Anderson and Dan Henderson move up to light heavyweight it would take out the top three middleweights in the UFC.  I believe we could see the three of them fight in both divisons.  However, Franklin has cleaned out much of the divison except Henderson and Silva. 

    After the victory, Franklin told MMAjunkie.com that a third fight with Silva probably wouldn’t be marketable. Many have suggested that a move to the light-heavyweight class could open some new possibilities, though Franklin has been quick to dismiss the suggestion. However, according to our source, he and the organization are now considering a move to 205 pounds, though it wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent move and could simply depend on whether or not he thinks the match-up makes sense. Although he’s one of the sport’s bigger middleweights and sheds considerable weight to make the 185-pound limit, Franklin recently told MMAjunkie.com that his body is better suited for the middleweight division. Although he’s one of the sport’s bigger middleweights and sheds considerable weight to make the 185-pound limit, Franklin recently told MMAjunkie.com that his body is better suited for the middleweight division. “I’ve been at 185 (pounds) for several years,” Franklin said in April. “I think that over the past couple years, I’ve really changed my body composition. It used to kill me to make weight, but now it’s much easier than it was three years ago, and I think it’s because my body’s changed a lot. I just don’t think I’m big enough to compete effectively as a light heavyweight anymore.” Franklin last competed at 205 pounds at The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale in April 2005. He called it a “special case” since the first-ever Spike TV broadcast would reach millions of viewers and could catapult his popularity. After defeating Shamrock, the victory did just that. Franklin said if a similar opportunity presented itself, he may be inclined to take it.

    2. Who Would Rich Franklin fight at UFC 88, at Light Heavyweight?

    • Dan Henderson is already rumored to be on the card against Rousimar Palhares in a middleweight fight.  This is the fight I would want to see, but no need for it to be at light heavyweight
    • Forrest Griffin would seem a likely choice if he loses to Jackson Saturday, seeing as how Forrest is a Georgia native.  I would almost expect Forrest to make it onto this card if he comes out unhurt from the Jackson fight, and my bet would be on a Franklin vs. Griffin fight (if Forrest loses to Quinton)
    • A newcomer that I would never consider?? Maybe.  I would expect the fight to be a draw somehow. 
    • A guy like Sokoudjou, Reljic, or Lambert — ehhh don’t count on it.
    • Matt Hamill is on this card supposidly, that could happen, but it seems like too much contrast in styles and that may be a bad match up for Rich as Matt is big and strong even at Light Heavyweight. 
    • A star like Wanderlei Silva.  It could happen.  That would be a huge fight.  Size wise it would be great for both.  A win would get Wanderlei a title shot.  Though I still like the idea of a Thiago vs. Wanderlei or even Wanderlei vs. Jackson III
    • A guy like Keith Jardine — that is a good choice too.  We will see.

    The UFC is stacking their Light Heavyweight divison.  Recently they have added Brandon Vera and Anderson Silva.  Though both those guys will alternate between their former and enw divisons it seems.  Dan Henderson doesn’t appear done at Light Heavyweight as Vera was offered to fight him at LHW.  Rich Franklin jumping up would add some serious force to the divison. 

     

    UFC Signing IFL Fighters

    It seems the UFC has growing intrest in IFL fighters.  Recently, the UFC signed notable light heavyweight fighter from the IFL, Andre Gusmao.  Also, today it is reported that the UFC has signed Rory Markham to contract.  Also Brad Blakburn will be featured on July 19th at UFC Fight Night 14.   Also, Chris Wilson, another welterweight and former IFL figher is now with the UFC.  TUF 7 featured a few IFL fighters in Gerlad Harris, Dante Rivera and Mike Dolce.

    Many of the IFL best have tried their hand at the UFC and not done great.  Jay Hieron and Vladimir Matyushenko are UFC vets.  I personally would like to see guys like Roy Nelson, Ryan McGiven, Chris Horodecki, Benji Radach, and Dan Miller in the UFC.  I don’t know how they will fair.  I have a feeling that Chris Wilson, Rory Markham and Andre Gusmao will be good indicators of how IFL fighters would do in the UFC. 

    The UFC Light Heavyweight Possibilities

    With rumors of Anderson Silva moving up to an already stacked light heavyweight divison this is what the divison could look like.  Anderson is not the only rumored guy to move to the divison. Not likely that this pans out like this, but it is possible.

    1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

    2. Anderson Silva

    3. Chuck Liddell

    4. Lyoto Machida

    5. Wanderlei Silva

    6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

    7. Brandon Vera

    8. Dan Henderson

    9. Rich Franklin

    10. Forrest Griffin

    11. Thiago Silva

    12. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

    13. Keith Jardine

    14. Rashad Evans

    15. Matt Hamill

    16. James Irvin

    17. Goran Reljic

    18. Wilson Gouveia

    19. Stephan Bonnar

    20. Andre Gusmao

    21. Luis Arthur Cane

    22. Jason Lambert

    23. Houston Alexander

    Talk about stacked full of contenders!

    UFC News: The UFC Signs Andre Gusmao

    The UFC signed light heavyweight fighter Andre Gusmau.  Gusmao is a former IFL fighter who boasts a solid 5-0 record.  Gusmao is a a capoeira and Brazilian Jiu Jit Su fighter.  He should be a solid addition to a a stacked light heavyweight divison.  I fact judging by what I have seen Gusmao should be a top 15 type guy instantly.  I will be interested to see who he is matched up with.  Gusmao will fight at UFC 87, but his opponent is yet to be determined.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him matched with a guy like Goran Reljic, Jame Irvin or even Kazuhiro Nakamura.