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)

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

The UFC Light Heavyweight Possibilities

With rumors of Anderson Silva moving up to an already stacked light heavyweight divison this is what the divison could look like.  Anderson is not the only rumored guy to move to the divison. Not likely that this pans out like this, but it is possible.

1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

2. Anderson Silva

3. Chuck Liddell

4. Lyoto Machida

5. Wanderlei Silva

6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

7. Brandon Vera

8. Dan Henderson

9. Rich Franklin

10. Forrest Griffin

11. Thiago Silva

12. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

13. Keith Jardine

14. Rashad Evans

15. Matt Hamill

16. James Irvin

17. Goran Reljic

18. Wilson Gouveia

19. Stephan Bonnar

20. Andre Gusmao

21. Luis Arthur Cane

22. Jason Lambert

23. Houston Alexander

Talk about stacked full of contenders!

UFN 13 Thoughts

Matt Hamill is a serious contender

One of the things that stands out more than any other was how good Matt Hamill is.  He took some serious shots and he stayed with it.  His wrestling is superior and I believe he could beat nearly anyone in the light heavyweight divison.  I’d like to see Hamill vs. Rashad Evans.  A Evans loss to Chuck and it may happen. 

Nate Diaz is on the rise

Nate Diaz fought a very good Kurt Pellegrino and submitted him with a great triangle choke.  Nate Diaz is for real.  He wants better competition and he will get it.  He better improve standing up though.  Nate Diaz is no slouch, maybe even betetr than his brother.

Tommy Speer is tough, but not a welterweight contender

Tommy Speer has shown that he can take a likin and keep on tickin, but Anthony Johnson demolished him.  He doesn’t seem to have the desire to win.  He will not be a contender at welterweight in the UFC.  WEC anyone?

Gray Maynard is underrated

When the Frank Edgar fight was booked everyone thought it was the end of Gray’s win streak.  I knew it was a bad match up for Frank Edgar.  Gray Maynard is very underrated.  He will continue to rise.  He should continue to get solid competition now.  He moved into my top 15 lightweights, which is a great feat.  I am a Gray Maynard fan.

Joe Lauzon is here to stay

Okay so Joe Lauzon lost, but he looked great in round 1.  I think it was a hair early for the Florian fight.  Joe is still a top ten guy, and showed he can realyl fight.  He will be a star in the UFC.  I’d like to see him fight a Clay Guida, Spencer Fisher or Frank Edgar.

Kenny Florian is getting better and better…and that is scary

Kenny Florian has the worst elbows in MMA.  He is very good and in my opinion is a tough match up for B.J. Penn.  He wants Huerta and all I can say is the Huerta hype would stop there.  Kenny is getting better and better each fight.

Steve Mazagatti is a trigger happy fight stopper

You can complain about the Houston Alexander and Karo stoppage all day long.  I thought the stoppages were a hair early, but honestly Karo and Houston were on their way out anyways.  Steve just saved them the final blows.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  However, just like when a bad decision comes from the judges you have to finish fights.

Karo Parisyan is no longer in line for a title shot

The debate was who should get the Serra vs. St. Pierre winner.  It was between Karo and Jon Fitch.  Thiago Alves gave us the answer.  Jon Fitch will get the next shot and there cannot be any complaint from loud mouthed Karo.  He got caught thats all there is to say about it.  By the way, didn’t Thiago Alves look good?

The Houston Alexander love fest is officially over

A fast KO of Keith Jardine and one more KO and everyone jumps o the Houston train.  He cannot beat top competiton consistently.  Thiago Silva destroyed him and James Irvin KO’d him in 8 seconds.  The love fest is over.

UFN 13 Predictions

Tommy Speer vs. Anthony Johnson

Tommy Speer looked greated on TUF, however in the finale against Mac Danzig he didn’t look good.  If he can stand with someone and ground and pound them Tommy can beat anyone.  We will see how his training has come since TUF.  If he stick with Hughes it could really help him.  Tommy Speer by unanimous decision.

George Sotiropolous vs. Roman Mitchyan

This is a tough fight to pick because Roman Mitchyan didn’t stay around long enough on TUF due to an injury.  He seems tough as nails and he can beat anyone on the ground.  I almost picked him, but George seemed so good and so confident on TUF.  I pick George by unanimous decision

Manny Gamburyan (Ranked #18) vs. Jeff Cox (unranked)

Okay, well Manny was the TUF runner up and near winner if it wasn’t for an injury, why is he still fighting third tier guys.  All the others on TUF with him are fighting good guys.  Lauzon has Florian.  Maynard has Edgar.  Diaz has Pellegrino.  It is time for Manny to fight better competition.  A win here will force him to fight better people.  I pick Manny Gamburyan via submission late in round 1

Clay Guida (Ranked #9)vs. Samy Schiavo (unranked)

It is amazing how Guida can be beating Roger Huerta senseless for two rounds and then get caught and loose the fight and now Guida is on a UFN undercard fighting an unknown and Huerta is in the title talk.  Guida can fight with anyone.  I pick Guida by TKO in round 2.  He needs to show he can finish this fight.

Din Thomas (Ranked #12) vs. Josh Neer

This isn’t an easy fight.  However, Din Thomas is very good.   I think Din will win in round 2 with a KO.

Marcus Aurelio (Ranked #10) vs. Ryan Roberts (unranked)

The original fight was scheduled to be Aureilo vs. Spencer Fisher.  Obviously this is on paper an easier fight to Auerilo.  I will pick Marcus because he has fight much better competition.  I expect a unanimous decision win, although it is ideal for Marcus to stop the fight quick.  It gets him back in the top ten talk.

Frank Edgar (Ranked #7) vs. Gray Maynard (Ranked #20)

Frank Edgar looked good his last fight, but so did Gray.  I was shocked by this fight.  Gray Maynard has done very well in the UFC, but Edgar is a top five guy.  It seems like a bit too early for this fight for Gray.  That will hurt him, but I would not be shocked if Gray wins.  Both are great wrestlers.  Gray can hit really hard so can Edgar.  I nearly picked Gray for this, but I have to go with Frankie Edgar, who is in and will stay in the title picture with a win.

Nate Diaz (Ranked #16) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (Ranked #14)

Nate has looked really good.  That bite through this lip for Kurt his last fight was sick.  This is going to be a tough fight.  It will do two things.  It will show how good Nate Diaz is and it will show if Kurt Pellegrino belongs further up the rankings.  If Nate is like his brother he will be incosnsitent, however he has potential against anyone.  Both can grapple.  I don’t know how Nate will take a hit.  We will see.  I still pick Nate Diaz via submission in round 3.  Should be a good fight. 

Houston Alexander (Ranked #14) vs. James Irvin (Ranked #19)

The question is was Houston Alexander a fluke?  No doubt he can hit hard and can finish a fight.  It seems he is not a top ten guy yet as Thiago Silva destroyed him.  How will he do against another mid level fighter.  I think Irvin will go to sleep in the first round before the half way point.  So I pick Houston Alexander via KO in round 1.

Matt Hamill (Ranked #15) vs. Tim Boetsch (Ranked #20)

Tim Boetsch looked mean his last fight.  Matt Hamill got cheated his last fight.  I think Hamill is very good.  He has stand up.  He can wrestle better than anyone.  He is good.  I look for him to take Boetsch down and use some ground and pound on him.  Hamill by TKO or Ref Stoppage in round 1. 

Karo Parisyan (Ranked #5) vs. Thiago Alves (Ranked #11)

This may be a good fight.  Karo has looked so good against so many guys.  There is no doubt he is a top level guy.  Thiago Alves is no slouch.  With a win here he will be right there with Jon Fitch in the title shot discussion.  This won’t be a easy win though.  I think in the end though Karo wins by unanimous decision.

Kenny Florian (Ranked #3) vs. Joe Lauzon (Ranked #8)

The hardest fight to pick is the main event.  Both have some experience against elite fighters.  Both have good wins.  Both are long and thing.  Both can wrestle.  Both have great stand up.  Both have brutal elbows.  Both have jiu Jitsu skills.  Honestly, this could be a toss up and should be fight of the night.  Win or loose both these guys are around to stay in the top tier of the divison.  The winner should be in the title shot discussion.  If Florian wins he could get the next shot.  If Lauzon wins, Huerta will get the next shot and Joe will have to win one more.  Both these guys have great training.  I think in the end Joe Lauzon will pull out a win and will catch Kenny in round 2. 

Most possible upset(s): Gray Maynard over Frank Edgar.  Thiago Alves over Karo Parisyan.  Tim Boetsch over Mat Hamill

This fight night has huge implications for the lightweight divison and will sort out a lot of the rankings.  Winners move up, losers move down the rankings.  Nine of the top twenty fighters in my rankings are fighting from the lightweight divison including #3,7,8,9,10,12,14, 16, 20

UFC 81 Thoughts

  • Frank Mir looked solid.  Granted he got beat around for a minute or two, he pulled out a great submission and is a great ground fighter, especailyl for a heavyweight.  He is a real contender and could be anyone in this divison.  Tim Syliva doesn’t stand a chance redeeming this loss.  Frank Mir is back and will climb into title contention with one more win. Frank is back.  Maybe not pre-accident Frank Mir, but he is still solid. 
  • Brock Lesnar is for real.  He beat Frank Mir bad for a few minutes.  He still has a long way to go, but he can ground and pound.  For his sake I hope one of the big time gyms invotes him to train with them because with some training he will be a champ.  That was good for the sport, except it was weird seeing Stone Cold, Kurt Angle and The Undertaker at a UFC event.  Brock Lesnar is a force in the UFC, perhaps Mir was the worst match up for him style wise.  He would have killed Tim Sylvia.
  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is tough as nails.  He almost gets knocked out more than anyone.  I knew if he could get to the ground he would win.  Finally when he got Sylvia I was glad.  He is a serious champ in this divison.  He will be hard to beat because few other heavyweights have a ground game.  If Couture doesn’t want him, then it looks like Werdum will get him.  If Randy is all about fighting the best, he better look to Nogueira who is a top 2 or 3 heavyweight in the world behind only Fedor.  I don’t know why Randy wouldn’t want to fight him. 
  • Tim Sylvia has no ground game.  This was obvious before, but more so then. He ha s a lot of weaknesses including the clinch and the ground.  He is on his way out the door.
  • Chris Lytle is unerrated.  Chris “Lights Out” Lytle absolutley destroyed Kyle Bradley.  I was impressed.  He is under the radar in the welterweight divison.  If he fights like that against most fighters he will climb the ladder fast.  Everyone talks about Matt Serra, but don’t forget Serra won TUF on a split decision.  Lytle is a force and will geta  good fight next in the UFC.
  • Tyson Griffin has stand up.  Tyson Griffin got the best of Tibau.  Griffin has never impressed me too much and have always thought he was overrated.  Tyson Griffin is a good stand up fighter.  He is a serious top ten lightweight.
  • Nate Marquardt is a top 4 middleweight.  Nate Marquardt is not the most marketable fighter, but he is good.  He is a top four middleweight.  I would like to see him fight Rich Franklin.  He handled a great fighter in Jeremy Horn and endured a near submission.
  • Ricardo Almeida is back.  I do not know how good he is, but he looked good, real good.  That flip of Yundt sinking in the choke was great.  Alan Belcher is lucky he got sick.  Almeida is a contender and in my opinion Belcher backing out places Almeida higher ranked than Belcher now.
  • Tim Boetsch.  Wow!  He had no preparation time and he slaughtered a good fighter in David Heath.  He could be good.  He thre Heath like a rag doll.  I will be interested to see how he does in his next fight.  He should get a good mid-level fighter and have time to prepare and train.