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

 

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)

UFC News: Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva at UFC 93 on January 31

There was a lot of speculation as to who Lyoto Machida’s next opponent would be.  Originally Machida was scheduled to fight Thiago Silva at UFC 89, but that fight was cancelled due to an injury to Silva.  It looks like that fight is back on and will take place on January 31 at what probably will be called UFC 93: Penn vs. St. Pierre II.

Tatame reports:

One of the most expected bouts of UFC 89, Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva would face each other in October, in a fight that would force one of them to know how a loss tastes for the first time. After Thiago’s injury, that forced the disappointing cancellation of the bout. After many rumors, some secure sources informed TATAME.com that this fight will still happen, and it’s set to happen at UFC 93, in January 31st, in MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas

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.

 

Best Pound for Pound Fighter

Following July 19th the debate began as to who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world in Mixed Martial Arts.  Before July 19th two people were really thought of as perhaps the top guy: Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva.  Following July 19th the debate gets tougher with both guys winning.  Let me begin by defining the term best pound for pound.  The best pound for pound fighter does not necessarily mean that he could beat any fighter in the world.  For example at 145 lbs, Urijah Faber would stand little chance against most heavier opponents.  The pound for pound title is for the best fighter in the world, size and weight has nothing to do with it and a fight between #1 and #2 wouldn’t necessarily settle the debate.  That is why the title best pound for pound fighter is difficult to determine and is very subjective.  Here is my list of the best pound for pound fighters. 

1. Anderson Silva –  Anderson is number one to me for a few reasons.  First, he has cleaned out the middleweight divison of the UFC.  There is not a middleweight that I think can beat him.  Second, he has beaten top fighters constantly.  He beat a top notch fighter in Dan Henderson and another in Rich Franklin, and he destryoed Franklin.  He beat a solid guy in Nate Marquardt.  Third, he challenges himself.  He moved up to 205 to fight James Irvin.  Irvin is not a stud a 205, but he has serious KO power.  He could have KO’d Silva, but Silva destroyed him quickly.  Fourth, Anderson is so well rounded.  His striking is legendary.  His Muay Thai is deadly.  His jiu jitsu is incredible although we don’t see much of it.  I don’t see him getting beat any time soon at 185 or 205. 

2. Fedor Emelianenko –  I am tempted to rank Fedor 1b.  Someone could make a solid argument to him being number 1.  Fedor always impresses.  He really impressed against Sylvia.  Not just that he won, but that he won in 36 seconds.  He is no doubt the best heavyweight, but I put him second to Anderson because I do not feel he has cleaned out the divison like Anderson has.  Fedor still has several guys to beat that are top level.  I’d like to see him fight Couture, Arlovski and Barnett.  Don’t get me wrong Fedor has a great resume and has beaten great guys like Nogueira and Cro Cop.  Fedor is incredible.  As for now he is numebr 2 pound for pound and I think he has to win another and Silva has to lose to change that.

3. B.J. Penn –  Pure talent B.J. may be up there with Anderson and Fedor.  I believe B.J. may be the guy to challenge the two above guys.  He has looked dominant since his return against Pulver, Stevenson, and Sherk.  He wants to fight St. Pierre in what would be a dream match.  B.J. is one of those guys that can fight at several divisons and he has made clear he wants the welterweight belt.  If he beats St. Pierre he has to be in the talk for number 1.  He has beaten solid welterweights before and can fight well at 170.  He has even talked about going up to 185 to challenge Anderson.  B.J.’s knock has always been his drive.  That has changed lately it seems and when on his game he can beat anyone at any weight.  B.J. made very good fighters in Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson look bad.  I am on the Penn bandwagon right now and think that right now he can beat anyone at 155 and maybe anyone at 170. 

4. Urijah Faber – Some people may want St. Pierre in this spot, but I have Faber.  Faber is an awesome featherweight.  He may be the best featherweight ever.  I and many still want the Yamamoto fight, but the Pulver fight was great.  Faber impressed there and moved up my rankings because of that.  I don’t see any 145 lb guy beating Faber.  His boxing is great and he is so innovative on the ground.  The category is best pound for pound fighter and I think Urijah is one of the best. 

5. Georges St. Pierre – St. Pierre is not ranked higher because he does have a recent loss to Matt Serra.  I know he avenged that loss since then, but Serra I consider far less talented than him.  St. Pierre is the total package.  When he is on he is unstoppable, and the key is when he is on.  I don’t suspect he will lose to Jon Fitch and a matcvh with B.J. Penn is on the horizon.  St. Pierre looked great against Serra, Hughes and Koscheck lately.  He is beating top level talent at the welterweight divison.  he is a few fights away from cleaning out the divison.  If he beats Fitch, Penn, Alves and Sanchez, he may move up to 185.  St. Pierre is an awesome fighter and he has room to climb up.  I think what is so impressive about him is his desire to learn more and grow as a fighter. 

6. Miguel Torres – A 135 pound fighter is hard to rank, however there is no doubt that Torres is the world’s best bantamweight.  His popularity is growing by leaps and bounds.  His last fight may be fight of the year.  He has sick jiu jitsu and showed he can stand and bang.  He has an incredible overall record and he sports a mullet unashamedly.  Torres is great at 135.  Many are calling for a Torres vs. Faber fight and that would be awesome as I believe Torres would be a challenge to Urijah.  I do not know if we know how good Miguel is and I do not know if we ever will.  He has to be one of the most underrated fighters in the world. 

7. Lyoto Machida – I do not know how many people consider Machida in their pound for pound rankings, but I think it must be considered.  He is undefeated.  He dominated Tito Ortiz.  I know many people are critical of him, but right now he may be the world’s best light heavyweight.  He certainly fits the bill of being underrated.  Many people do not like him because of his style, but he keeps winning.  Some accuse him of running in fights, but he strikes and moves.  He is very effective.  If he keeps winning he needs to move up lists.  His fight with Thiago Silva at UFC 89 will tell us a lot.  Don’t sleep on Lyoto as a pound for pound top fighter. 

8. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Big Nog is the UFC Heavyweight champion.  He has beaten great guys.  He takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.  He has tons of talent and is very well rounded.  Most consider him the #2 or #3 heavyweight and in the midst of Couture’s desire to fight the best in Fedor he has overlooked fighting Nogueira.  In my opinion Randy should have challenged Nogueira for the belt before pulling this cry baby crap with the UFC and pouting because he wanted Fedor.  He could have foguht out his contract against Nogueira and one other guy and then left with no conflict to get the Fedor fight.  He could have fulfilled his contract with no controversy with the UFC.  His legacy is tarnished.  I think Nog would beat Randy.  He has proven himself over and over.  Nogueira is a solid fighter and I look forward to his fight with Mir and his TUF 8 coachind stint. 

Others: Kid Yamamoto, Takanori Gomi, Paulo Filho, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

UFC News: Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote at UFC 88 Possible

It has neen no secret that the UFC and Anderson Silva hoped to work out a title defense for Silva’s middleweight belt in September.  The expected fighter was to be Yushin Okami.  Dana White made clear that if Silva go out of his fight with Irvin injurt free then he would most likely fight September 6th and then again in December.  Here is what Dana White said now:

Okami’s out of that fight. He broke his hand. If (Silva) fights in September it’ll be (Patrick) Cote,” stated White at Saturday night’s post-fight press conference at the Palms in Las Vegas.

Patrick Cote is coming off a lackluster win over Ricardo Almeida. The fight was billed as determining who would geta  shot at the title.  It looks like Cote will get that shot and get it earlier than expected.  Okami’s hand is broken and that will allow for Cote to fight for the title.  I am sorry, but Patrick Cote is way out of his league here.  At least it will be one more step before Silva cleans out the divison.  I presume he has 3-4 more fights to officially clean out the divison.  I would say he needs to beat Kampmann, Bisping, and maybe Quarry to officially clean out the divison.

 There seems to be more plans for Silva than any other fighter in the UFC.  Why not?  He is the best and his popularity is growing quickly.  Dana White added more speculation…

“(Silva) said he wants to defend his 185-pound title. He said he wants to test the waters at 205. He did (on Saturday night),” continued White. “He’s going to defend his title again in September and then probably try to take another fight at 205.I think he wants to take his time. I think he wants to stay at 185 and completely clean out that division, go from there. (Silva) took the fight (with Irvin) on short notice, moved up to 205, wants to fight all the best guys in the world at 185 pounds, wants to fight all the best guys at 205 pounds, wants to fight every three months… uh, yah. It’s a little difficult for us to move things around, but when a guy has that mentality… I love it.”

I believe Silva’s win over Irvin means he is not done at 205.  I kmow Silva is very close to Machida and feels right now the belt is Machida’s at 205, I respect that and I really like Machida, however many people don’t like Machida.  The UFC’s worry about Machida is his marketability.  He has a upcoming bout with Thiago Silva, and a win there makes a title shot inevitable.  Perhaps Machida and Silva will never fight, but there are appealing fights out there for Silva, more than Silva-Cote.  We can think of a move of WEC middleweight champ Paulo Filho to the UFC and get a title shot, but he has to get through Chael Sonnen in September first.  We can think of a dream match at 205 between Liddell and Silva, but Liddell has to get through Evans first and he would call for a title shot if he does.  We could imagine Wanderlei vs. Anderson.  The list goes on and obviously there are more appealing fights for Silva at 205 than 185.  For now, it looks like it is right back to the grind for Anderson as he prepares for a possible Sept. 6 fight with Patrick Cote at middleweight, no sweat. 

UFC News: Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva at UFC 89

For a free SPIKE UFC show this is shaping up nicely.  UFC is confirming that Lyoto Machida will fight UFC up and comer Thiago Silva at UFC 89. 

Unbeaten light heavyweight sensation Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida (13-0) will look to keep the momentum going from his May victory over Tito Ortiz when he returns to the Octagon to face fellow unbeaten (and fellow Brazilian) Thiago Silva (13-0) in what should be an explosive clash on October 18th’s UFC 89 card at The National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England

The winner of this fight should be in serious title contention.  If Lyoto wins the UFC cannot avoid giving him a title shot.  If Thiago wins it throws the divison into more turmoil.  This should be an interesting fight to say the least.  I have to wonder though who does this leave for Wanderlei Silva?  The rumor was the Wanderlei was asked to choose between Thiago Silva and Lyoto Machida as to who he wanted to fight.  That may have been true, but he won’t get either yet.  That leaves one fight: Rampage Jackson.  Jackson’s legal troubles may throw a wrench into that idea now, but I have a feeling that was the idea.