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

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

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 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: Nate Marquardt vs. Martin Kampmann at UFC 88

It appears that a middleweight bout between Nate Marquardt and Martin Kampmann willt ake place on the televised portion of the UFC 88 card in September.  Marquardt is coming off of a cotnroversial loss to Thales Leithes and Kampmann looked impressive in his return against Jorge Rivera recently.  Both guys are top ten middleweights in the UFC.  The goal of both these guys is a title shot and both have a little ways to go to get there.  Marquardt has a loss to Silva aldready and many think Kampmann is a good contender.  I agree.  I think Kampmann is a better cotnender than Cote.  However, he likely must get in line behind Patrick Cote, Yushin Okami and Michael Bisping.  I would highly favor the winner of this fight facing the winner of the Bisping vs. Leben fight to clear up the mess around the top of the divison.  The winner of a Bisping/Leben vs. Marquardt/Kampmann fight would have to be considered the number 2 contender behind Okami.  That is assuming Cote gets bumped by Silva at UFC 90.

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.