1. Jon Jones (19-1)
Heading into the UFC 165 main event, Jones viewed his showdown with Alexander Gustafsson as a chance to cement his place as the greatest light heavyweight champion in the promotion’s history. While “Bones” was able to surpass Tito Ortiz’s record for 205-pound title defenses, he learned that the 6-foot-5 Swede measured up to the challenge in more ways than just height. Twenty five hard-fought minutes against “The Mauler” arguably exposed more chinks in the New York native’s armor than his previous five title defenses combined, perhaps giving hope to an entire division.
2. Alexander Gustafsson (15-2)
Gustafsson had far more than height on his side at UFC 165, as he battled Jon Jones tooth-and-nail for 25 minutes in their light heavyweight title tilt. Although the Swedish “Mauler” emerged on the wrong side of a unanimous decision, he undoubtedly gained more than a few fans in the process. More importantly, another shot at 205-pound gold should be coming his way in the near future.
3. Rashad Evans (18-3-1)
Evans took care of business in the UFC 161 headliner, as he claimed a split decision over Dan Henderson in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The victory halted the first two-fight losing streak of Evans' career and put the former champion in position for another meaningful bout near the top of the light heavyweight division. That fight will come against Chael Sonnen in the UFC 167 co-main event in November.
4. Phil Davis (12-1, 1 NC)
Once regarded as one of the light heavyweight division’s most promising talents, Davis’ career path took a detour following a lopsided loss to Rashad Evans at UFC on Fox 2. “Mr. Wonderful” got back on track at UFC 163, taking a controversial unanimous decision against former 205-pound kingpin Lyoto Machida. While many were not pleased with the ruling, Davis figures to be in line to face another contender upon his return to the Octagon.
5. Lyoto Machida (19-4)
Machida was on the wrong side of a contentious decision at UFC 163, falling to Alliance MMA product Phil Davis. Machida countered Davis effectively throughout the contest and, for the most part, thwarted the takedowns of the former NCAA All-American wrestler. However, Machida’s light heavyweight title hopes were dealt a serious blow when the cageside judges ruled unanimously in favor of “Mr. Wonderful.” Machida looks for a fresh start when he makes his 185-pound debut against Tim Kennedy at UFC Fight Night 31 in November.
6. Dan Henderson (29-10)
After back-to-back split decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, Henderson's hopes of again challenging for UFC gold may have been put permanently on hold. The Team Quest founder will have to settle for playing the role of spoiler in his next outing, as he attempts to halt Vitor Belfort’s momentum at UFC Fight Night 32 in Brazil.
7. Glover Teixeira (22-2)
Teixeira needed an impressive performance at UFC Fight Night 28 in order to solidify his place as the UFC’s No. 1 light heavyweight contender, and he delivered in the form of a first-round technical knockout against powerful wrestler Ryan Bader. The Brazilian was momentarily stunned by a left hand from his opponent, but he eventually recovered to drop the Power MMA Team member with a two-punch combination before swarming with punches on the ground to earn the stoppage. Teixeira has now won 20 straight fights, including five in the UFC.
8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5)
Nogueira was set to face Mauricio Rua at UFC 161 in a rematch of a memorable 2005 Pride Fighting Championships clash between the two light heavyweights. A herniated disc forced “Minotoro” out of that matchup, and the Brazilian’s next move is currently unclear.
9. Ryan Bader (15-4)
For a moment, it appeared that Bader had a chance to derail Glover Teixeira’s run at light heavyweight gold after he rocked the Brazilian with a punch in their UFC Fight Night 28 encounter. That opportunity proved fleeting, however, as the former Arizona State University wrestler fell victim to Teixeira’s power 2:55 into the opening frame. The Power MMA Team representative travels Down Under to face 41-year-old Anthony Perosh at UFC Fight Night 33 in December.
10. Gegard Mousasi (34-3-2)
The former Dream and Strikeforce champion earned a handy decision in his April UFC debut against late replacement Ilir Latifi and subsequently underwent surgery for a torn ACL. Mousasi has commented on a possible drop to 185 pounds upon his return, though he recently challenged Vitor Belfort to a fight at any weight.
Other contenders:Emanuel Newton, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Thiago Silva, James Te Huna, Attila Vegh.
Continue Reading » MMA Middleweight Rankings