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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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.

UFC News: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Mark Coleman at UFC 93

We had heard all sorts of swirling rumors about who Shogun would face next.  Many thought it would be a re-match with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, others speculated that it could be Chuck Liddell.  Shogun is coming off of a knee injury that has kept him out for a year.  He was last in action against Forrest Griffin, when he lost be a submission.  Mark Coleman is coming out of retirment to face Shogun.  Coleman was initally scheduled to come back and fight Brock Lesnar at heavyweight, but it now appears he will indeed fight Shogun at 205 on January 17 at UFC 93. Coleman owns a victory over Shogun, but it come due to Shogun breaking his elbow in the fight at PRIDE 31 in 2006.

This card is shaping up nicely.  MMAMania.com is reporting that the fight between Rich Franklin is more than a rumor, but that it is going to happen and that is is going to happen on the UFC 93 card in Dublin, Ireland on January 17.  Also, they are saying the fight will not be at 185, but rather at 205.

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.

The Title Picture in the UFC Light Heavweight Divison

In my previous post about the title picture in the UFC heavyweight divison I mentioned how the UFC’s match making has caused problems in the title picture.  The same is true of the light heavyweight divison.  Okay, Forrest Griffin is now the light heavyweight champion.  The question should be who gets the next title shot and what is the order of contenders.  The UFC made clear that if Chuck Liddell beat Rashad Evans at UFC 88 then he would fight Forrest Griffin in December for the title.  However, Rashad Evans played spolier and ruined the potential blockbuster fight.  Very quickly, the UFC gave Rashad the title shot for December.  Kudos to rashad for a big win, but most people would agree that even with the win over Liddell he was not the number one contender.  I believe that distinction has to go to Lyoto Machida who has notable UFC victories over Sokoudjou and Tito Ortiz.  I have no problem with saying Machida needs one more win, but he better not be ignored.  I have heard that he isn’t getting the shot first because guys don’t want to fight him and secondly because he has limited marketability.  So, what other options are there?  Here are my rankings in order of who I feel the contenders are right now.  I see 4 guys right now at the top of the heap that could get a title shot without much complaint from me.  Some like Rich Franklin may need one more win…

1. Lyoto Machida

2. Quinton Jackson

3. Wanderlei Silva

4. Rich Franklin

Needs one more win…

4. Rashad Evans

5. Thiago Silva

6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

7. Chuck Liddell

Guys who could earn their way into contention soon…

8. Brandon Vera

9. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

10. Keith Jardine

The problem is booking.  Several of these guys are booked for fights.  It seems Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva will square off November 15th, surely the winner of that fight will get a title shot.  Lyoto Machida was to face Thiago Silva, with the winner surely getting a title shot soon, however Silva pulled out leaving Machida opponent-less.  Shogun is waiting for a December opponent…possibly Chuck Liddell.  Keith Jardine is fighting Brandon Vera and Sokoudjou is fighting Luiz Cane at UFC 89.  That leaves Rich Franklin, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans available for the title shot in December.  The UFC chose Evans, the weakest of the possible opponents for Griffin.  The heap is big and growing.  Contenders need to keep winning.  It looked like 2009 will see Machida get his title shot, but he may need two more wins.  Wanderlei or Jackson may get the next shot in the spring of ’09.  Rich Franklin could work his way in the mix too.  The picture won’t clear up either with a lot of solid guys in the top 15.

UFC News: Rampage Jackson vs. Shogun Rua in December

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who many at one time considered one of the bets all around fighters in the world has been out with an injury since his loss to Forrest Griffin last year.  Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has been in the news for his legal troubles since losing the title to Forrest Griffin in July.  Reports have been swirling that a fight is in the works between Rampage and Shogun for December.  The source is Shogun.  I am not sure how definite those plans are.  Shogun also said he was fighting Mark Coleman of which Coleman said he knew of no such thing.  A Shogun vs. Rampage fight would be a re-match of a PRIDE fight where Shogun literally destroyed Quinton.  I just re-watched that fight and was super impressed with Shogun.  I bet Rampage ate over 20 hard knees to the face in that fight.  I am sure part of him wants a re-match, but part of him does not.  I was hoping for Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva, but I will settle for Rampage vs. Shogun.  This fight would have huge implications in the light heavyweight divison and is a fight Shogun needs to win and a fight Jackson needs to win.  Right now there is a host of contenders with fighters in serious title contention and another several in the mix.  As we speak the top contenders in the UFC 205 lb divison are: Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua.  A win for Lyoto in October would nearly cement his title shot.  A win for Chuck in September would be hard to skip over him for a shot.  Both Wanderlei, Shogun and Rampage could earn shots with one win.  I look forward to this re-march between Rua and Jackson.  The question will be: how is Shogun’s physical health and how is Rampage’s mental health. Wow, what a card the December 27th card could be. It could possibly look like this:

Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

B.J. Penn vs. Georges St. Pierre

Rampage Jackson vs. Shogun Rua

Wanderlei Silva vs. ?