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: Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson Official For UFC 93

I said I didn’t think this fight would happen and my speculation for that was first off that Dan Henderson would coach the Ultimate Fighter 9 and second that the fight would take place at middleweight.  I will say it…I was wrong.  UFC.com is reporting the event as the headliner of UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland.  This from Rich Franklin about the upcoming fight.

Dan Henderson has great credentials, and he is going to be one of the toughest fights of my career. That being said, I’m planning on winning the fight, and I’m looking forward to fighting in the main event and fighting in Ireland. I love the fans, and the way they react by singing and chanting makes it a unique experience for me.

The light heavyweight divison is stacked, and I guess Dan Henderson is not done with 205.  The fight will be huge in terms of battling for position for a title.

In addition to the Franklin vs. Henderson super fight, the Shogun vs. Mark Coleman fight was announced as well.  Stay tuned, there could be more as some have speculated that we will see Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra on one of the January cards.  This UFC 93 card is important,  First, because it very well could compete against the Affliction/Golden Boy card.  Also, because the UFC will have 3 pay per views in a short span; one being December 27, another January 17, and the super bowl card on January 31.  In a tight economy it will take a great card to sell 3 pay per views.  If the 3 cards are enough of a draw people may elect to not order the Affliction fights even if they occur in between UFC 93 and 94 on January 24th.  The UFC 93 card is not going to be able to compete with the mega fight between Penn and St. Pierre set for January 31, but with these names already announced it could be a huge draw.

Future UFC Hall of Famers

So, which UFC fighters are future hall of famers?  Currently, there are 5 hall of famers which include: Randy Couture, Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Royce Gracie, and Ken Shamrock.  So as you pan through current UFC fighters which guys are hall of fame calibur.  Let me tell you…

1. Chuck Liddell – Despite his recent struggles in the octagon, Liddell is the face of the UFC.  Not only that he has faired well in his career.  He was a very feared fighter and a dominant champion.  He boasts some big wins over the likes of Tito Ortiz, Babalu, Wanderlei Silva, and Randy Couture.  This is a no-brainer.  This is what baseball fans would call a first ballot hall of famer.

2. Matt Hughes-  Hughes is called the most dominant welterweight champion of all time.  He was dominant, and he may not be totally done yet.  He has coaches TUF two times.  He has been a force in the divison for years and held the belt it seems like forever.  Another first ballot guy. 

3. Tito Ortiz –  Let me begin by saying I despise Tito Ortiz.  I do not like him Sam I am.  However, no one can deny his dominance for a time.  I think he is done now, but he defended his belt a record number of times.  I don’t know if he will ever make it to the UFC Hall of Fame, but he should based on his in the octagon performance and popularity.  He lifted the sport when it was struggling.  He should be in, but like Pete Rose there are all sorts of other factors.

4. Rich Franklin –  The second best middleweight in the world.  People forget how good he is because of his losses to Anderson Silva.  He has been dominant otherwise.  He has a phenomenal record, he has been champ, he is incredibly popular, and he keeps getting better.  I love Rich Franklin and think he is surely hall of fame worthy no doubt.

5. B.J. Penn –  B.J. is really a prodigy.  He has been welterweight and lightweight champion.  He may be both at the same time come January.  He has cleaned out the lightweights and has fought the best welterweights.  He is one of the most popular fighters in the world and he is growing in talent and popularity.  He may not be a hall of famer today, but one more big win and he is a lock. 

6.  Anderson Silva – He may be the most dominant fighter ever.  He is the pound for pound best in the world.  He has changed the sport.  He is all around talented.  He can beat anyone and the scray thing is I don’t know if he will ever lose.  He is in.

7.  Georges St. Pierre–  He is not in yet, but he will be.  He has some work to do.  He has to keep the belt for a while to be hall of fame in my book.  He has hall of fame talent though.  He has the popualrity.   I have no doubts that by the time all is said and done St. Pierre will be a UFC Hall of famer.

8. Forrest Griffin – Overrated? I think so.  Popular? Undeniable.  Hard working? No one works harder.  The reason I would give Forrest the nod is what he did in the Ultimate Fighter.  He is one of the most popular UFC fighters, but mainly because he is considered the savior of the UFC.  Dana White has said that the Griffin-Bonnar fight saved the UFC.  Now he is a champ and is getting quite the resume with wins over Shogun and Rampage.  He is still growing too as a fighter.  He will be a hall of famer.

9. Evan Tanner– With his recent death I began to think about his hall of fame potential.  His popularity was huge.  However, Tanner had a lot of baggage outside the octagon which may have caused him to not reach his full potential in the octagon.  I think he could be a hall of famer.  In his prime he was beating a lot of guys.  He is a former champ, which is a must.  He very well could be a hall of famer if people can look past his struggles.

10. Tim Sylvia – I know, I know another guy I don’t like.  Tim is very polarizing.  He doesn’t have the popularity for some reason, but he was good in the UFC.  He beat tons of guys.  He held the title a couple times.  He could be, but may not be because he is not in the best standing in the UFC now that he left for Affliction. 

Other Candidates: Andrei Arlovski, Quinton Jackson, Frank Mir

Note: Many of the current UFC guys who were stars in PRIDE were left out such as Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Shogun Rua, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Who did I leave out?  Weigh in below in the comments section.

UFC News: Heath Herring vs. Brock Lesnar

When the UFC announced Brock Lesnar’s next opponent as Mark Coleman, I thought it was the UFC’s attempt to get a win for Lesnar over a proven fighter, but one he could beat because he was past his prime.  Lesnar needs that win to earn the respect.  I think Brock will be a great fighter as he is a great athlete.  In my opinion, they put him in against a top guy to quickly.   He almost pulled out a win against Mir.  He needs a guy he can take down and ground and pound.  Coleman is out with a knee injury, so he was going to replace him?  I predicted it would be Justin McCully.  However, it looks to be Heath Herring.  There is good and bad to this math up.  The bad: Heath Herring is experienced and has fought the best of the best in his career, Herring is tough and can hang with top guys.  Herring nearly beat Nogueira and he beat Kongo.  We will see how Lesnar does taking a kick and a punch.  Herring seems to be renewed andlooked great against Kongo.  The good:  Herring is a good fighter and a win catapolts him into a state of being legit.  If he can get Herring down and get on him and beat him I think he will win.  This is interesting.  Brock needs a win here.  The other good is Brock will nearly always be much, much bigger than his opponent and will out wrestle anyone.  Good match up I think if it holds true. 

    This is shaping to be a good card.  I expect one more televised card worthy fight to be added.  That would mean we would have St. Pierre vs. Fitch.  Lesnar vs. Herring.  Huerta vs. Florian and one more good bout at least. 

MMAWeekly.com has confirmed that Heath Herring has agreed to fight Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 on Aug. 9 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its debut in Minneapolis, Minn.

Lesnar was originally slated to face UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman in the main event of UFC 87. Coleman, however, suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in training, which will sideline him for at least six weeks. He was forced to withdraw from the bout with Lesnar due to the injury.

Herring has been on a roller coaster ride since his UFC debut in January of 2007. The former Pride heavyweight title contender has gone 2-2 in the Octagon, most recently defeating Cheick Kongo at UFC 82 in Columbus, Ohio.

I disagree with MMAweekly, where they said on their site that Lesnar had a “less than stellar performance against Mir”.  I think Lesnar looked great. he just got caught.  He was beating Mir badly and even through a loss showed he is for real.  With some more training he will be a force.  I think of him as one of the up and coming guys in the UFC Heavyweight divison.  The fight with Herring is important. 

UFC News: Lesnar vs. Coleman Scrapped

The Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Coleman fight scheduled to take place at UFC 87 in August has been scrapped. 

Mark “The Hammer” Coleman will no longer face Brock Lesnar in the UFC 87: “Seek and Destroy” co-main event after suffering a knee injury, according to UFC.com.

Minnesota product and former WWE wrestling superstar-turned mixed martial artist, Brock Lesnar, was to be showcased in a featured bout of the evening against Coleman, a recent Hall of Fame inductee and the first-ever UFC heavyweight champion.

Many fans groaned at the prospect of Lesnar taking on the elder statesman, seeing it as a mismatch to help Lesnar rebound from his submission loss during his debut against Frank Mir at UFC 81 back in February.

The UFC has promised to announce a replacement shortly.

The question will be who will face Lesnar.  I doubt they would willingly sacrifice Shane Carwin or Cain Velasquez.  Andrei Arlovski is most likely not going to be signed, but even if UFC did sign him I doubt he would fight Lesnar.  My bet would be on a guy like Justin McCully.  McCully was rumored to be fighting Lesnar a while back, but then was announced it would be Lesnar vs. Coleman.  Then McCully was rumored to be fighting Frank Mir at UFC 86, but that was scrapped due to Mir fighting Nogueira and coaching TUF 8.  Interesting…very interesting. 

Upcoming UFC Fights

I love to play the guessing game with what fights will be booked.  This summer has some good fights planned.  UFC 85 was pulled out of near failure by Matt Hughes and Thiago Alves.  UFC 86 will feature Jackson vs. Griffin for the title.  UFC 87 will have Lesnar vs. Coleman.  It was just announced that UFC 88 will take place September 6.  I thought that Lesnar vs. Coleman was going to be the main event of UFC 87, but UFC.com says otherwise.  There is apparently another bout to be announced.  That means between UFC 87 and UFC 88 there are two main event fights to be announced.  Here are the possibilities…

  • Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch – This fight is going to happen for sure it is just a question of when.  My bet is that this will be on one of the cards main event or co-main event.  I see this at UFC 88 the main event.
  • Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami –  This fight is also likely to happen.  I would predict this one to be a UFC 87 bout  because it doesn’t stand alone as a main event well because Yushin Okami is not that marketable, but you add it as a co-main event with Lesnar vs. Coleman and it has more draw.
  • Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson  –  This could be a UFC 88 bout, but not as the main event.  I look for this fight to happen.  It just makes sense. 
  • Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra – My guess is that this will be on the October card, along with the return of Chuck Liddell.  Matt Hughes says that win or lose he is fighting Serra next. 
  • Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – This fight seems like it could happen we just don’t know when these guys will recover.  Shogun mentioned maybe fighting in September, but I think that is a bit early.  I’d lean towards October or November for this fight.  The winner would be in title talk along with the winner of Jardine/Silva. 

Don’t be shocked if after UFC 84 of 85 one of the guys on that card will fight there.  There are some great fighters on the next two cards who could be featured on a main card by August or September.  I imagine outcomes of these fights may play a role.