Continuing with the series of in-depth divisional breakdowns that started yesterday with a look at the Bantamweight division (read it here), Featherweight division (read it here), the Lightweight division (read it here), the Welterweight division (read it here) and the Middleweight division, (read it here) we move on to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight division.
With the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the middle of one of its longest stretches of down time in months, (and with the summer season jam-packed with events), I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to take an in-depth look at all the divisions to clearly identify who is in the title picture, who isn't, who is building themselves into a contender and whose jobs are on the line.
The UFC is essentially an endlessly on-going tournament, with two brackets: One for match winners and one for match losers. Just about the only time that Joe Silva and Dana White match up a guy coming off a win with a guy coming off a loss is if the guy coming off a loss was fighting for a title. Otherwise, it's almost always winner vs winner and loser vs loser.
It's a pretty sensible way of doing things, ensuring that there will always be guys with a few wins in a row and others with a couple of losses in a row, opening up the chance for new blood to enter into the company.
So anytime you are looking at a division and trying to see what the future will hold, it's mandatory to know who are the fighter's on win streaks and who are the fighters on losing streaks. As such, I've been organizing each division by wins and losses for a few months now and throughout today I'll be posting up my take on each division based on this data. I'm not going to be doing an in-depth feature on the flyweight division, as there has only been two fights in the division thus far.
Therefore, we move on to the Light Heavyweight division (205 pounds):
Six Wins: Jon Jones
Four Wins: Rashad Evans, Alexander Gustafsson
Three Wins: Stephan Bonnar, Anthony Perosh
Two Wins: Igor Pokrajac, James Te Huna, Ryan Bader
One Win: Dan Henderson, Lil Nog, Stanislav Nedkov, Brandon Vera
Rookies: Ryan Jimmo, Glover Teixeira, Jorgen Kruth
One Loss: Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, Thiago Silva, Vladimir Matyushenko, Luiz Cand, Cyrille Diabate, Kyle Kingsbury, Krzysztof Soszynski, Fabio Maldonado, Phil Davis, Nick Penner, Aaron Rosa
Two Losses: Tito Ortiz, Quinton Jackson
The smallest division in the company, with only 30 guys currently on the roster. After Jon Jones and his challenger Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson is just about the only fighter with the credentials to qualify for a title shot. Alexander Gustafsson might find himself in the spotlight quickly but I don't believe he has been seasoned enough. The division is pretty much the weakest in the promotion, which could end up driving Jones to heavyweight very quickly.
- Thiago Silva vs Alexander Gustafsson, UFC on Fuel TV 2
- Cyrille Diabate vs Jorgen Kruth, UFC on Fuel TV 2
- Jon Jones vs Rashad Evans, UFC 145
- Igor Pokrajac vs Fabio Maldonado, UFC on Fuel TV 3
- Kyle Kingsbury vs Glover Teixeira, UFC 146
- Tito Ortiz vs Forrest Griffin, UFC 148
Just six fights booked, with the championship fight being the only notable match on the books. I suppose Silva/Gustafsson could produce the next contender after Henderson but they surely would need another victory. Could it come against the winner of Griffin/Ortiz? I hope not. Slim pickings indeed.
Stephan Bonnar, Anthony Perosh, James Te Huna, Ryan Bader, Dan Henderson, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Stanislav Nedkov, Brandon Vera
I'd like to see Perosh and Bonnar face off, and Te Huna/Bader would be another good fight between guys on multiple win streaks. I'd be okay with Lil Nog and Brandon Vera hooking up for a battle of also-rans and Nedkov is probably going to have to wait for someone to come free before he gets a match. Ryan Jimmo is currently waiting to make his debut though, so that could be a good fight to make.
Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, Phil Davis, Vladimir Matyushenko, Luiz Cane, Krzysztof Soszynski, Quinton Jackson, Nick Penner, Aaron Rosa
Jackson and Shogun are set to have a re-match when Jackson heals up from knee surgery. I feel like Phil Davis vs Lyoto Machida is another fight that we are likely to get towards the end of the summer. Luiz Cane needs to bounce back and would do well to ask for Matyushenko or Soszynski, while Nick Penner and Aaron Rosa both lost on the same card, so could easily find themselves facing off soon.
For such a prestigious division, which has almost always been home to the consensus "best fighter in the world", there is precious few great fighters currently in the class. Jon Jones is a one of a kind talent, but he certainly isn't going to get the type of challenges that say, Georges St. Pierre will over the next two years, or what Jose Aldo is going to have to face in the next two years. I'm not sure where the talent is going to come from, as there just aren't as many prospects in this division rising up the ranks. I'm going to do some research to see what I can find out about the current crop of light heavyweights outside the UFC and I'll post the findings.
How long do you think Jones is going to be the champion of this weight class for? Will he leave the division or will he be beaten?