MMABlog’s Light Heavyweight MMA Rankings

 

Here are my 205’ers.  The UFC clearly has the deepest and best pool of 205 lb fighters.  I only see a couple of non-UFC fighters being top 25 material. 

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Forrest Griffin

UFC

Evans (#6), 12/27

2

Quinton Jackson

UFC

W. Silva (#4) 12/27

3

Lyoto Machida

UFC

T. Silva (#10) 1/31

4

Wanderlei Silva

UFC

Jackson (#2) 12/27

5

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

UFC

Coleman (NR), 1/17

6

Rashad Evans

UFC

Griffin (#1), 12/27

7

Dan Henderson

UFC

Franklin (#12), 1/17

8

Keith Jardine

UFC

 

9

Chuck Liddell

UFC

 

10

Thiago Silva

UFC

Machida (#3), 1/31

11

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Affliction

Moisa (NR), 11/3

12

Rich Franklin

UFC

Henderson (#7), 1/17

13

Brandon Vera

UFC

 

14

Vladimir Matyushenko

Affliction

 

15

Luiz Cane

UFC

 

16

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

UFC

 

17

Ricardo Arona

 

 

18

Renato “Babalu” Sobral

Affliction

Southworth (NR), 11/21

19

Matt Hamill

UFC

Andy (NR), 12/27

20

Tito Ortiz

 

 

21

Rafael Feijao

EliteXC?

 

22

Steve Cantwell

UFC

Al-Hussan (NR), 12/10

23

Stephan Bonnar

UFC

Jones (NR), 1/31

24

James Irvin

UFC

 

25

Brian Stann

UFC

 

Also considered: Jon Jones, Tim Boetsch, Bobby Southworth, Mark Coleman (Didn’t include him because he hasn’t fought again.  He probably is top 25 material)

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Mid Year MMA Awards

Best Knockout

Honorable Mention: Luis Arthur Cane KO Jason Lambert, Shane Carwin KO Christian Wellish, Murilio Rua TKO Tony Bonello, Matt Wiman KO Thiago Tavares

5. Anthony Johnson KO Tommy Speer

4. Wilson Gouveia KO Jason Lambert

3. Brian Stann KO Doug Marshall

2. James Irvin KO Houston Alexander

1. Wanderlei Silva KO Keith Jardine

Best Submission

Honorable Mention: Antonio Nogueira submits Tim Sylvia by Guillotine, Yoshiyuki Yoshida submits Jon Koppenhaver by Anaconda choke, Nate Diaz submits Kurt Pellegrino, Cole Miller Submits Jorge Gurgel by Triangle Choke

5. Demian Mia Submits Ed Herman by Triangle Choke

4. Frank Mir Submits Brock Lesnar by Kneebar

3. Rousimar Palhares Submits Ivan Salaverry by Armbar

2. Dustin Hazelett Submits Josh Burkman by Armbar

1. Shinya Aoki Submits Katsuhiko Nagata by Aokiplata

Best Fight

Honorable Mention: Shinya Aoki vs. Gesias Calvancante, Cung Le vs. Frank Shamrock

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

4. Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver

3. Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith

2. Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin

1. Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda

Best Fight Card

5. WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver

4. UFC 80: Rapid Fire

3. UFC 81: Breaking Point

2. DREAM 4

1. UFC 84: Ill Will

Upset of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Jason Day over Alan Belcher,

5. Thiago Alves over Karo Parisyan

4. Kevin Burns over Roan Carneiro

3. Fabricio Werdum over Gabriel Gonzaga

2. Josh Thomson over Gilbert Melendez

1. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson

Fighter Of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre, Diego Sanchez

5. Miguel Torres

4. Forrest Griffin

3. Thiago Alves

2. Shinya Aoki

1. B.J. Penn (2 Impressive wins over Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson)

Best UFC Newcomer:

Honorable Mention: Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar

5. Rousimar Palhares

4. Dong Hyun Kim

3. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

2. Goran Reljic

1. Cain Velasquez

Worst Calls By A Ref. or Judges

5. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson –  Not just that Forrest got the win, but that it was unanimous.  Many, including me scored the fight either a draw or to Jackson

4. Brandon Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum- Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in round 1 when Werdum was mounted on Vera throwing down punches.  There was just 10 seconds remaining and Vera seemed to be defending himself well. 

3. Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites — Leites got the win, but lost the fight.  He lost the fight due to two points taken away from Marquardt.  One point was justified, but the other was due to elbow to the back of the ehad that wasn’t to the back of the head.  I will confess, that another point could have fairly been deducted for an illegal slam, but I hated to see Marquardt get a loss on his record that I feel he won

2. Phantom split decisions — How was Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove a split deicsion?  How was Heath Herring vs Cheick Kongo a split decision?  The right person got the decision, but how was it split?

1. Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson – Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in the 3rd round while Thompson was still standing and failed to stop it when Thompson was mounted on Kimbo raining down elbows

WEC News, Rumblings and Predictions

This is a good fight on paper.  The card would have been much better with the Sonnen vs. Filho II fight on it.  I am looking forward to this fight, it has been billed as a good guy vs. bad guy fight.  On one side you have the champ, Doug “Rhino” Marshall.  He talks a lot of talk, he has a foul mouth and he looks the bad guy part.  On the other side you have an army veteran, the “All American” Brian Stann.  I am not going to pull any punches, I am rooting for Stann.  I think he could be a great MMA fighter, especialyl if he has any ground game.  Marshall may never find out.  I am predicting a round 1 TKO for Stann.  He is a potential star, and a win for Stann translates to $$$ for the WEC. 

     Today it was announced that June would be the date for the Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver fight.  Also they announced a Miguel Torres vs. Manny Tapia bantamweight title fight.  I am lookign forward to that card.  Torres really impressed me against Beebe.  He is 33-1.  I think he could dominate that divison and then move up and beat Faber.  The Faber vs. Pulver fight will be good.  Pulver I thought was done in MMA and then he comes and beat Cub Swanson quickly.  Faber is the man and the face of his division.  I will root for and pick Faber and Torres to retain their belts.   

       I also wonder what other title defenses will come.  When will Paulo Filho get it together and come out of rehab ready to fight?  Who will he fight?  I would say Filho will be offered the winner of the Sonnen vs. Baker fight tonight, which I am not counting out Baker to win.  Who will Jamie Varner face in his first title defense?  My bet would be a re-match with Rob McCullough.  I think Razor Rob is a better fighter than Varner and will get the belt back eventually.  Who will Carlos Condit next fight?  Heaven knows, he is awesome.  The WEC has done well and have 4 or 5 stars in Faber, Torres, Filho, Stann, and Condit.  The WEC is better off when these guys win.  I’d still like to see some of them against the best in the UFC, especially Condit and Filho.  If Faber could move to 155, he could be a great UFC fighter. 

UFC’s Competition

I have been critical of Dana White’ abilitiy to sign the free agents in the MMA world.  I think the bottom line is that Dana is unwilling to bend.  I just heard that Jacare, an excellent jiu-jitsu guy signed with DREAM.  The negotions broke down with the UFC because Dana felt they wanted too much money.  Maybe he is right, but nevertheless Jacare is now in a competitong organization.  Furthermore, it seems the UFC fails to sign top notch fighters especailly Japanese guys like Ishida, Ayoki or Sakurai.  There are other top level fighters that the UFC couldn’t sign.  Worse than that there are several top tier guys I don’t know if the UFC even cares about (Jakes Shields, JZ Calvancante, Gilbert Melendez).  He won’t sign Fedor.  He won’t sign Lindand.  In my opinion UFC will never be a monopoly and has some serious competition. With some of the internal problems and some of the UFC stars upset we could see another organization become the “big dog” in MMA.  In my opinion here is UFC’s biggest competitors.

1. EliteXC.  Dana’s feud with Shaw hasn’t helped.  Shaw is a much more typical commissioner than White.  The CBS deal will bring them in a lot of viewers, but will also help all MMA.  They have some stars in EliteXC (Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Cung Le, Robbie Lawler). They are willing to take chances as seen by the future star Kimbo Slice.  They offered Fedor, and may get him.

2. WEC – I know it is Zuffa owned, but they have some great fighters that the UFC should bring over to the UFC.  I don’t know why you have another organization with top level fighters.  They have some great guys that would translate well anywhere (Paulo Filho, Carlos Condit, Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, Doug Marshall, Brian Stann, Rob McCullough, Jamie Varner, Chael Sonnen, Leonard Garcia and Jens Pulver)

3. DREAM – Not much competition now, but has some good fighters (Sakurai, Cro Cop, Calvancanti, Ishida, Aoki, Denis Kang, Yamamoto, Joachim Hansen, Eddie Alvarez and Mark Hunt).  The American market is next to nothing though.

4. World Victory Road — Josh Barnett and Takanori Gomi enough said.  A few more big names and they have something good.

5. Strikeforce.  Not great competition, but still have a few guys any monopoly would want (Frank Shamrock, Josh Thompson and Gilbert Melendez)

6. ICON.  They have Jason “Mayhem” Miller and a future star in Kala Hose.

 Right now the UFC is doing fine.  They have a few competitors, but they are still the big leagues.  They have the best fighters.  Some divisions they are better than others.  For example at Light Heavyweight they have a near monopoly and at welterweight they are doing pretty well.  There are several key free agents out there (Fedor, Arlovski, Couture).  If EliteXC or someone else picks up the other guys they can really compete.

UFC’s Light Heavyweight divison

The most confusing divison to me is the lightheavyweight divison.  They have beat each other up.   I do not know if the people in line for title shots are in order of who the best fighters are.  Here are my predictions…

1. Chuck Liddell’s next fight will be Keith Jardine.  He is already calling for Jardine. He could get another Jackson fight if Forrest beats Jackson.  Even though Jardine beat Liddell I don’t think Jardine is a top 5 guy.  I think Liddell is better.  Perhaps we do not realize how good Jardine is.  He did beat Forrest.  He lost to Houston Alexander, but maybe he overlooked him somewhat.   I still say Liddell would win a rematch.

2. I do not consider Forrest the number 2 lightheavyweight and reluctantly would have him in my top 5.  Who has he beaten before Shogun?  Stephan Bonnar (barely).  He lost to Jardine badly and now is getting a title shot because he beat Shogun?  Granted Shogun was widely considered a gimmer for the title, but come one.  The UFC likes Forrest and is handing him this chance becuase of what he has done for the sport and because he is very popular. 

3. Shogun is still one fight away from a title shot.  If he wins his next fight he will get to fight the winner of the Jackson vs. Griffin fight.  It would be a re-match either way for him.  I would bet on Shogun either way.  In other words, Shogun will hold the title in 2008. 

4. It looks like Lyoto Machida will fight Tito Ortiz.  I have Machida ranked four or five places above and would pick him to beat Ortiz who is busy with other things besides training, such as The Apprentice and acting. 

5.  Along with Lyoto Machida you have to consider Thiago Silva a up and coming contender. 

6.  Rashad Evans still needs a big win to be considered for title shots.

7.  It seems Matt Hammil and Stephan Bonnar will square off in April.  I would say Hammil can move up in the divison with a win here and some other people loosing

8.  Wanderlai Silva is not out of the picture yet either.  I look for him to fight a big name guy next, perhaps Shogun, Sokoudjou, Thiago Silva, Rashad Evans or even Houston Alexander.  If I was matchmaker Joe Silva I would schedule a Wanderlai Silva vs. Thaigo Silva, Sokoudjou vs. Houston Alexander in a bout of strikers, and Shogun vs. Rashad Evans for a shot at the title. 

9.  Look for Joe Silva to take the six above mentioned fighters and square them off somehow.  The winners will move closer to a title shot and the losers will have to make up some ground. 

10. I am not sure if Dan Henderson is at Middleweight to stay.  He is still in my top 3 lightheavyweights.

11.  My order for who deserves a title shot right now (if they were to line up one by one without having to fight each other, so it won’t happen this way) would be: Forrest Griffin (just because I know he is getting the next shot), Shogun, Chuck Liddell, Thiago Silva, Wanderlai Silva, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine, Sokoudjou, and Tito Ortiz.

12. How can you not want to see a Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlai Silva rematch.  I am hoping for it.  What a fight that was! It couldn’t have been any better, even a few years ago. 

What to expect in MMA in ’08

  • I expect to see new title holders in every division but one and that is the middleweight.  All though Anderson could be challenged by Dan Henderson.  My picks for the title holders: Nogueira, Not sure about lightheavyweight, Anderson Silva, St. Pierre, and B.J. Penn.
  • I expect to see a few more fighters signed to UFC contracts.  Highlighting the list: Matt Lindland, Gilbert Melendez, Jake Shields, and some other big name surprise
  • I expect TUF to be a disappointment with Rampage Jackson getting a lot of camera time saying his crazy off the wall things
  • I expect the middleweight division to get tougher
  • I expect a few UFC stars to retire (Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin)
  • I expect Sean Sherk to get another title shot, but B.J. Penn to beat him badly
  • I expect the light heavyweight division to get crazier with guys like Machdia, Thiago Silva, Rashad Evans, and Shogun in the title mix.
  • I expect Chuck Liddell to avenge his loss to Keith Jardine by summer
  • I expect that Shogun is still only one fight away from a title shot, I think that my top ten in the lightheavyweight at the top ten at light heavyweight, perhaps not in that order.
  • I expect Dan Henderson to try Anderson Silva like he hasn’t been tried in a while
  • I expect Jon Fitch, Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, Roger Huerta, Matt Lindland, and either Arlovski or Cro Cop to get a title shot. 
  • I expect the former PRIDE guys to turn it around in the octagon
  • I expect another solid fight from Wanderlai Silva, can you say rematch?
  • I expect the Fedor vs. Randy fight to happen
  • I expect other organizations to become more of a competition to the UFC
  • I expect Dana White to say many more expletives on national television
  • I expect TUF alums to suceed this year even more
  • I expect Diego Sanchez to drop to lightweight
  • I expect Brock Lesnar to be a middle of the road fighter
  • I expect Brandon Vera to drop to lightheavyweight
  • I expect Bisping to cry when he gets beat in middleweight
  • I expect Tito to loose in the Apprentice

WEC fighters

I have to believe that next to the UFC the WEC has the best fighters.  They have 10 guys that are great fighters.  I wonder how would the WEC stars stack up against UFC stars.  Let us look at the title holders and see where they would rank in their perspective divisions.

Light Heavyweight Champ Doug Marshall

I don’t think Marshall could contend in the UFC at the light heavyweight divison.  He is a good fighter and seems to have to problems holding his WEC belt, but he would maybe be a #15 rank at UFC.  He would be in the mix of that deep division, but he would start way back and have to prove himself.  I don’t see him being able to beat people like Jackson, Griffin, Shogun, Liddell, Silva, Machida, Alexander, Sokodjou.  He may be able to match well with a Jardine like guy.  He could have a good night against any of the above, but overall I would rank him as a Bisping level light heavyweight, which isn’t bad.

Middleweight Champ Paulo Filho

Some have argued for Paulo Filho to be the best Middleweight in the world even ahead fo Anderson Silva.  The two are great friends and I know they are hesitant to fight, but I would love to see them fight.  I believe Filho would get an immediate title shot in the UFC and win, loose or draw is a top two middleweight in the UFC, with Rich Franklin still a ways off.  I was disappointed with Filho’s last win.  He looked unimpressive, especailly standing.  I have no problem with that fight beign called. Sonnen’s arm was going to break otherwise.  Nevertheless, Filho pulled out a win.  He is the WEC fighter that could really contend in the UFC, and maybe the best guy in the world to challenge Anderson Silva for the title. 

Welterweight Champ Carlos Condit

“The Natural Born Killer”.  Condit is good.  How good?  I am not sure.  I do believe he would be okay in the UFC.  I don’t believe his time to shine would be instant.  He would right now rank at 7 or 8 in the UFC welterweight divison, which is deep.  He would be behind: Hughes, St. Pierre, Serra, Fitch, Parisyan, and Koscheck.  Perhaps him and Diego Sanchez would be a good match up.  I place him on Diego’s level, maybe with a slight edge going to Condit.  He will only improve.  I’d lvoe to see him in the UFC

Lightweight Champ Rob Mccullough

Least likely of all the champs to contend I think. The “razor” is good, and dominates WEC.  He woukd be a top ten, but barely.  I don’t see him being able to beat a Sherk, Penn or Stevenson.  Really I don;t see him beating  an Edgar, Lauzon, Thomas or Franca.  He is exciting to watch though and he can pack a punch. 

Featherweight Champ Urijah Faber

Faber is the star and face of the WEC.  The WEC needs Faber to do well.  The UFC has no 145 division.  I wonder if Faber could move up to 155.  If so I believe he would be a seriosu contender in the UFC.  I think he is that good.  He is the one guy the WEC can’t affor to lose.  The other option is for the UFC to make a 145 lb division.  Assume with me that you start it with some of the WEC stars and you alread have a strong 3-5 fighters.  Perhaps have Faber, Pulver, Swanson, Curran, Micah Miller, and Chase Beebee.  If I was Dana White I would be seeing green with that idea.  The UFC and WEC are not necesarily competitors as both are Zuffa owned, but Dana should see the Faber market and find a way to get him to the UFC.

Bantaweight Champ Chase Bebee

The same as above, his only hope for UFC would  be to add serious weight and go to 155 or to jump to 145 if the UFC started a featherweight division.  I believe Chase could do well.  Faber good?  Maybe not, but he is a fighter and will not quit.  I like Chase, he will hold the bantaweight title for a while.

 Yes, some of the WEC fighters can content in the UFC, but I think the UFC is still superior.  I believe Jen Pulver is case in point.  I thought Cub Swanson was going to make quick work of Pulver, but it happened the other way around.  Perhaps Swanson got caught and Pulver got lucky, or perhaps that shows what an average UFC fighter can do in another place. 

Since I am full of suggestions to Dana White, I think it would be cool to have one whole UFC fight card called “UFC vs. WEC”  Put the champs against the champs.  Offer big contracts to WEC fighters who can take the belt.  I would go nuts over such a card.  In addition you could try Faber against one of the UFC’s best lightweights…vision the card with me for a second…

Rampage Jackson vs Doug “Rhino” Marshall

Anderson Silva vs Paulo Filho

Hughes/St. Pierre vs Carlos Condit

Penn/Stevenson vs Rob McCullough

Sherk, Penn or Stevenson vs Urijah Faber

Dana, if you need to hire a guy full of idea that will make your wallet fat, just drop me a line.