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: 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

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: 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.

 

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.

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