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

 

Advertisements

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)

Poll Questions In Wake of UFC 89

Cast your vote on several questions that arose from UFC 89…

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. 

UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben Results

  • Michael Bisping defeats Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision
  • Keith Jardine defeats Brandon Vera via Split Decision
  • Luiz Cane defeats Rameau Sokoudjou via TKO (Strikes) in Round Two
  • Chris Lytle defeats Paul Taylor via Unanimous Decision
  • Marcus Davis defeats Paul Kelly via Submission (Guillotine Choke) in Round Two
  • Dan Hardy defeats Akihiro Gono via Split Decision
  • Shane Carwin defeats Neil Wain via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
  • David Bielkheden defeats Jess Liaudin via Unanimous Decision
  • Terry Etim defeats Sam Stout via Unanimous Decision
  • Jim Miller defeats David Baron via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • Per Eklund defeats Samy Schiavo via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • 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.

    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.