Breaking Down the UFC Middleweight Division

The Champion: Anderson Silva

The Top Contender: ?

The Next Tier:

·         Yushin Okami

·         Nate Marquardt

·         Michael Bisping

·         Dan Henderson

·         Demian Maia

·         Thales Leites

·         Patrick Cote

·         Chael Sonnen

 

On the Rise: 

·         Demian Maia

·         Michael Bisping

 

Other Notables:

·         Denis Kang

·         Rousimar Palhares

·         Martin Kampmann

·         Chris Leben

·         Ricardo Almeida

·         Nate Quarry

·         Jason MacDonald

·         Wilson Gouveia

·         Goran Reljic

·         Dan Miller

·         Dean Lister

·         Kendall Grove

·         Alan Belcher

·         Ed Herman

·         Jorge Rivera

·         Alessio Sakara

·         C.B. Dolloway

·         Mike Massenzio

·         Matt Horwich

·         Jake Rosholt

·         Amir Sadollah

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia at TUF 8 Finale on December 13

·         Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister at UFC 92 on December 27

·         C.B. Dolloway vs. Mike Massenzio at UFC 92 on December 27

·         Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher at UFC 93 on January 17

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Yushin Okami vs. Anderson Silva

·         Thales Leites vs. Rousimar Palhares

·         Demian Maia vs. Michael Bisping

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The UFC Middleweight division is very, very underrated!  I believe it is because of Anderson Silva’s dominance.  The middleweight division does not have a clear number 1 contender, but from top to bottom I would put this division with any.  Albeit, the UFC’s competitors have some middleweight talents in the likes of guys like Gegard Mousasi, Jacare, Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland, Jorge Santiago,and  Kazuo Misaki.  Not to mention the few solid middleweights from EliteXC such as Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock and Benji Radach.  The UFC is sure to pick some of those guys up

·         Rumor has it the UFC is in negotiations with top middleweight Yoshihio Akiyama.  I do not know if they call pull him away from DREAM and Sengoku, but that would be a huge add. 

·         The middleweight division is growing with adds like signing Denis Kang, the move of WEC’s division which will add Chael Sonnen and Jake Rosholt as well as guys like Aaron Simpson and Danillo Vilefort likely to come over.

·         Paulo Filho will not be in the UFC…yet.

·         TUF 9 will feature middleweight coaches with Michael Bisping being a lock.  The other names being thrown around are Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and even Demian Maia

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UFC News: Chris Leben Fails UFC 89 Drug Test

Dave Meltzer is reporting that UFC Middleweight fighter Chris “The Crippler” Leben has faielda  UFC administered drug test following his loss to Michael Bisping at UFC 89.  The apparent drug that Leben tested positve for is a drug called Stanazolol. 

The UFc has suspended Leben for nine months and fined him 1/3 of his fight purse.  Here is UFC president Dana White’s comments on Leben’s suspension and failed drug test:

I am obviously disappointed with Chris, who has made great strides getting his life back on track.  To his credit, he has taken responsibility for his actions and is accepting the punishment that has been handed down. But as always, the UFC puts the safety of its athletes first and foremost, and we won’t tolerate anyone using performance enhancing drugs in our organization.

Leben has tried to get his life together and claims to be alcohol free, but he certainly isn’t substance free.  This is a big set back for Chris who had a good showing against Michael Bisping at UFC 89.  Here are Leben’s comments by way of Yahoo! Sports.

I’ve really done everything I can to turn my life around. And this is a huge setback for me. But it’s something I will have to deal with. During my time off from fighting, I want to speak to kids about the dangers of using performance enhancing agents and let them know it just doesn’t get you ahead in life. Of course, this is a hard hit for me monetarily, but more so this is embarrassing for me and for all my fans.

MMABlog’s Middleweight MMA Rankings

The middleweights were hard to rank down towards the last 10.  Sorry if I left some good guys out.

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Anderson Silva

UFC

 Cote (#12), 9/25

2

Paulo Filho

UFC

Sonnen (#16) 11/3

3

Rich Franklin

UFC

Next Fight at LHW

4

Dan Henderson

UFC

Next Fight at LHW

5

Robbie Lawler

EliteXC?

 

6

Kazuo Misaki

Strikeforce

1/4

7

Nate Marquardt

UFC

 

8

Matt Lindland

Affliction

Sobral (LHW) ) 1/24

9

Yushin Okami

UFC

Lister (NR), 12/27

10

Gegard Mousasi

DREAM

Belfort (#25,) 1/24

11

Thales Leites

UFC

McFedries (NR), 9/25

12

Patrick Cote

UFC

A. Silva (#1), 9/25

13

Michael Bisping

UFC

 

14

Yoshihiro Akiyama

 

 

15

Ronaldo “Jacare” de Sousa

DREAM

 

16

Chael Sonnen

UFC

Filho (#2) 11/3

17

Demian Maia

UFC

Quarry (#18), 11/15

18

Nate Quarry

UFC

Maia (#17), 11/15

19

Joey Villasenor

EliteXC?

 

20

Cung Le

Strikeforce

 

21

Jorge Santiago

 

 

22

Chris Leben

UFC

 

23

Jason Macdonald

UFC

 

24

Martin Kampman

UFC

 

25

Vitor Belfort

Affliction

Mousasi (#10) 1/24

 

Others Considered: Ricardo Almeida, Rousimar Palhares, Dean Lister, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Frank Trigg

Poll Questions In Wake of UFC 89

Cast your vote on several questions that arose from UFC 89…

UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben Thoughts

  • The Fight of the Night was no doubt the slugfest between Paul Taylor and Chris Lytle.  That was  ahard bout to judge.  The decision went to Lytle, but I probably would have given it to Taylor due to his aggressivness.  By the way, how did a judge score that fight 30-27 in favor of Lytle?  I am not mad that Lytle got the decision win, I just wish someone didn’t have to lose a fight that is so close
  • Marcus Davis looked really good and Paul Kelly looked very uimpressive.  I think Marcus will be granted his plea to fight at UFC 93 in Ireland.  Looks like a Lytle vs. Davis match up is coming.
  • Sokoudjou looked impressive to start, he throw hard punches and hard kicks.  However, if Sokoudjou wants to keep winning he needs to work on some cardio.  He wore out.  Cane knew this coming in and weatehred the storm.  Cane is for real folks.  He has some power and a chin.  He is a guy to watch out for in the light heavyweight divison.
  • I thought Brandon Vera looked better than he did against Andy.  However, Jardine got the split decision win.  I probably would have given the decision to Vera, but that is the way it goes.
  • The main event was solid.  Bispin was the clear crowd favorite.  He clearly won that fight.  No, not in typical Bisping fashion, but he handled himself well against Leben and proved he is a serious contender.  However, Leben looked solid.  He looked better than ever. 

My UFC 89 Predictions

Some of these are very tough picks.  This is a solid card, which is by far better than UFC 90.  I will probably stink up my picks because there are some tough fights here.  From top to bottom this is a good card.  Maybe not the big names that pay per view cards often carry, but to the serious MMA fan even fights on this undercard are appealing.

Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben

I think Bisping is a serious contender at 185 lbs.  He has looked impressive, but he has not fought anyone of Chris Leben’s calibur yet at 185.  He handily beat Jason Day and Charles McCarthy, but Leben is better than those guys.  Leben can strike and he has an iron chin.  I think when it comes down to it we will see that the difference is Bisping’s conditioning and his ability to take Leben down and work some ground and pound.  If Bisping tries to exchange with Leben it could be goodnight “Count”.  However, Bisping is hailed the best UK fighter, and is likely the TUF 8 coach.  I look for Bisping to win by ref stoppage in round 3. 

Brandon Vera vs. Keith Jardine

This is a very tough fight to pick and here is why.  Brandon Vera made the drop from heavyweight to light heavyweight, which I think is a good move.  He debuted at 205 and looked less than impressive ina  win over Reese Andy.  I do not know if Vera is struggling as a fighter right now or if the weight cut got to him that fight.  I would expect a much better Vera Saturday.  Jardine is a tough guy to figure.  He has at times looked like a top contender.  He has beaten Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin.  However, he got beat handily and quickly by Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander.  So is Jardine a top 5 fighter?  Or is he a “gatekeeper”?  My pick for this fight is not concrete, and I would not be shocked for it to go either way, however, I pick Brandon “The Truth” Vera by unanimous decision.  It would be great for Vera’s career if he finished quickly and in exciting fashion like the Vera of old. 

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Luiz Arthur Cane

Argghhh.  Another hard fight.  For the same reasons as above.  How good is Sokoudjou?  He has impressive KO wins over Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, which put him on the MMA map.  He then lost in his UFC debut to Lyoto Machida.  There is no shame in that, Machida is a top guy.  Then he came and dismantled Nakamura, who was unable to answer the bell after round 1.  This fight will show how good Sokoudjou is.  Many people may look over this fight, but this may be the best match up on the card.  A lot of people do not know who Luiz Cane is, but he is a phenomenal striker.  He devestated Jason Lambert.  Anyways, I will go with Sokoudjou by 2nd round KO. 

Marcus Davis vs. Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is tough. He has an iron chin, great wrestling and good ground and pound skills.  He isn’t afraid to trade blows either as he showed against Paul Taylor.  I think when it comes down to it Marcus Davis is way more experienced.  That will be the difference.  I pick Davis by late first round submission.

Shane Carwin vs. Neil Wain

Quite honestly, I know very little about Neil Wain.  However, I do know that Shane Carwin is one of the top heavyweight prospects.  I do know he has knockout power.  I do know that he reportedly has some of the best ground and pound skills.  I think we will see it on display.  I pick Carwin by ref stoppage in round 1.

Dan Hardy vs. Akihiro Gono

Dan Hardy is the British newcomer who is highly touted by many.  He will make his debut against a tough Akihiro Gono.  I have no idea how to predict this fight.  Hardy is touted, but looking at his record, I don’t know what there is to tout.  Gono has tons of experience, but he too has struggled at times.  I believe that home octagon advantage could play a factor and help Hardy who will be a sure crowd favorite.  The winner of this fight will be thrust right into the top ten of the stacked welterweight divison.  I think that Gono wins a tough decision victory.

David Baron vs. Jim Miller

I don’t like this match up.  These are two good signings being placed opposite one another in their debuts.  I wouldn’t mind the fight, but I’d like to see both guys have a chance to win one first.  Only one will win.  David Baron gained fame with his win over Hayato “Mach” Sakurai.  He also boasts wins over Dan Hardy and another UFC recent signee in Abdul Mohammed.  Jim Miller is a former IFL fighter, whose lone career loss came to Frank Edgar.  This should be a tough match between two well rounded fighters.  In the end I think David Baron will win by decision.

Chris Lytle vs. Paul Taylor

Both these guys are tough as nails.  Paul Taylor may be under the radar.  He has a 2-2 record in the UFC, but that is deceiving.  His losses came to Paul Kelly and Marcus Davis.  He was very competitive in both fights, in fact Davis’ submission was seen as a come from behind victory.  Chris Lytle is a very tough dude.  I honestly do not know if he will be able to handle Paul Taylor’s pace.  Both guys like to stand and strike.  Chris Lytle’s nickname is “lights out”.  Lytle has fought some top names in the game such as Koscheck, Alves, Hughes, Serra, Parisyan, Lawler, Nick Diaz, Shonie Carter, and Joe Riggs.  The problem is he has lost to all those dudes.  The point is this, Lytle is a good fighter, but he is not a great fighter.  Don’t get mad at me, that is what his record says.  He has not beaten a top notch fighter except an early win in his career over Kazuo Misaki.  He has some solid wins over guys like Matt Brown, Savant Young, Pat Healy, Tiki Ghosn and Pete Spratt, but those guys are not top guys.  The question as I pick this fight is which group Paul Taylor fits into.  I think Taylor is good and could win this, but Chris Lytle is the prototypical UFC gatekeeper, the top guys beat him and the second tier guys don’t.  I think Taylor has a future in the UFC still, but I think this fight ends with a Lytle KO is round 2.

Jess Liaudin vs. David Bielkheden

Poor David Bielkheden.  He made his UFC debut against a Diego Sanchez with something to prove and he could beat up at UFC 82. Now he drops to lightweight against another welterweight who has dropped to lightweight.  I think it could be an exciting match as the loser may be out of the UFC.  I think that Liaudin will pull out a win here in a unaimous decision. 

Terry Etim vs. Sam Stout

Terry Etim was very hyped coming into the UFC.  He hasn’t lived up to it at all.  He won his debut, but scored losses to Gleison Tibau and Rich Clementi following.  Sam Stout is tough as his fights with Spencer Fisher indicate.  I would not be surprised if he wins this fight that we see the rubber match of those fights.  Terry Etim has great submissions.  If he losses he is out of the UFC.  I suspect Etim will win by submission, even though it does not seem that Stout is very suseptable to submissions.  Etim by submission, round 1.  If it stands though Stout wins. 

Per Eklund vs. Samy Schiavo

This could be a good fight.  Schiavo may be underrated.  He lost to Clay Guida badly, but Schiavo has excellent strikes and solid submissions.  I think Schiavo will be too much for Eklund and will finish the fight by TKO in round 2.

UFC News: Brandon Vera vs. Keith Jardine at UFC 89

It appears that a light hevayweight bout between Keith Jardine and Brandon Vera is in the works for UFC 89.  Brandon Vera is coming off a win in his debut in the light heavyweight divison against Reese Andy.  Keith Jardine is coming off of a quick knockout loss to Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84.  Vera, the former heavyweight standout struggled with energy after cutting weight for his July 19th bout.  This fight should catapolt the winner into contention for the title.  UFC 89 is shaping up to be a fantastic card.  It is slated to be headlined by middleweights Chris Leben vs. Michael Bisping.  Also on the card is a bout between cotnenders Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva as well as a bout between Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Luis Cane.  Additionaly, it is believed that Anderson Silva could defend his title on this card.