B/R Official MMA Rankings for May: The Top 10 Light Heavyweights in MMA
April was a huge month for the light heavyweight division, as it finally saw Jon Jones and Rashad Evans settle their year-long rivalry.
The UFC 145 main event was one of the biggest fights the UFC will put on this year, and it delivered in the eyes of most fans.
Jones made life miserable for Evans on the feet, controlling the distance and landing some vicious standing elbows that rocked his former training partner.
The win was Jones’ fourth straight in a title bout, and after taking out Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua in a little over a year's time, Jones is quickly making a case to be called the best fighter in the world.
10. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Last Fight: TKO victory over Tito Ortiz at UFC 140
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: NR
An impressive win over Tito Ortiz at UFC 140, along with the current fall of Rampage Jackson, has given Antonio Rogerio Nogueira the final spot in the light heavyweight rankings.
Nogueira has had an up-and-down UFC career, but it has been hampered by injuries as of late and he has had a hard time gaining momentum in a tough 205-lb division.
Nogueira was set to fight Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fuel 2, but he was forced off the card with an injury and we are still awaiting his return.
9. Forrest Griffin
Last Fight: KO loss to Mauricio Rua at UFC 134
Next Fight: Tito Ortiz at UFC 148
Previous Ranking: 8
The original Ultimate Fighter is still holding strong in the rankings over seven years since he won the reality show.
Granted, Griffin has done quite a bit since that time, defeating Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz.
Oh, and he did win the UFC light heavyweight title.
Griffin is now booked to fight a rubber match against Tito Ortiz at UFC 148 in July. While a win may not give him a boost in the rankings, it will at least get him a fight against a top fighter.
8. Phil Davis
Last Fight: Unanimous decision loss to Rashad Evans at UFC on Fox 2
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: 6
After getting his momentum cut out from under him by Rashad Evans, Phil Davis is still awaiting the date for his Octagon return.
Davis was the top prospect in the division going into his bout with Evans, but the former Penn State wrestler was easily controlled by “Suga” for the majority of the five-round fight and took home the first loss of his career.
Now, Davis is in need of a victory to get back into the mix at light heavyweight, but with most of the top fighters in the division locked up it will be interesting to see who he draws next.
7. Ryan Bader
Last Fight: Unanimous decision victory over Rampage Jackson at UFC 144
Next Fight: Lyoto Machida at UFC on Fox 4
Previous Ranking: 7
Going into Japan and fighting one of their most beloved fighters in Rampage Jackson can’t be fun, but Ryan Bader sucked it up and earned a career-defining victory at UFC 144.
Despite Rampage throwing him to the mat with a punishing slam, Bader was able to control the majority of the bout and use his wrestling to earn the win, moving him to the top of the 205-lb division in the process.
Bader will go from one former champion to another when he takes on Lyoto Machida this August on the main card of UFC on Fox 4.
6. Alexander Gustafsson
Last Fight: Unanimous decision victory over Thiago Silva at UFC on Fuel 2
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: 9
Jumping a startling three spots in the light heavyweight rankings is the hottest prospect in the division, Alexander Gustafsson.
Gustafsson recently won his fifth straight fight, defeating Thiago Silva by unanimous decision in his home country of Sweden, and the win has propelled him into title consideration.
At just 25 years old, (nearly the same age as current champion Jon Jones), Gustafsson is seen as the last hope the division has at defeating Jones if the champion is able to get past Dan Henderson.
5. Lyoto Machida
Last Fight: Submission loss to Jon Jones at UFC 140
Next Fight: Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4
Previous Ranking: 5
It’s been a rough few years for Lyoto Machida.
Ever since Machida lost his UFC title to Shogun Rua back at UFC 113, he has struggled to win inside the Octagon, losing two of his next three fights.
While his win over Randy Couture earned him enough momentum to get him in as a late replacement against Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, Machida had about as much luck as everyone else has against Jones, and found himself getting choked unconscious in the second round.
Now looking to rebound once again, Machida will fight Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4 this summer.
4. Shogun Rua
Last Fight: Unanimous decision loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 139
Next Fight: Thiago Silva at UFC 149
Previous Ranking: 4
Once the most feared man in the light heavyweight division, Shogun Rua has had an extremely inconsistent UFC career.
Shogun has, for the most part, traded wins and losses inside the Octagon and has a pedestrian 5-4 record in the UFC.
However, his record doesn’t reflect the high level of competition that Shogun has fought since entering the UFC, as all four of his UFC losses have come to a former UFC or Pride champion.
3. Rashad Evans
Last Fight: Unanimous decision loss to Jon Jones at UFC 145
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: 2
There was a ton of hype going into Rashad Evans’ UFC title fight against Jon Jones, and to his credit, Evans gave Jones more problems than any other opponent that “Bones” has fought in his young career.
Now looking to rebound from his loss to Jones, Evans is in need of a few victories in order to get back into title contention.
It is unclear when we will see Evans in the Octagon again, but after a few long layoffs it would be nice to see Evans return sooner rather than later.
2. Dan Henderson
Last Fight: Unanimous decision victory over Mauricio Rua at UFC 139
Next Fight: Jon Jones at TBA
Previous Ranking: 3
At 41 years old, Dan Henderson is next in line to fight for the UFC light heavyweight championship.
As crazy as that may sound, there is little doubt that Henderson has earned his opportunity, and his resume certainly supports that.
Henderson ran wild on the Strikeforce light heavyweight division, winning the belt in his first 205-lb fight in the organization. After defending the belt against Renato Sobral, he defeated Fedor Emelianenko and Shogun Rua in back-to-back bouts.
Now with Jones on the horizon, Henderson has a chance to solidify his spot as one of the greatest fighters of all time if he is able to score the upset and win the belt.
1. Jon Jones
Last Fight: Unanimous decision victory over Rashad Evans at UFC 145
Next Fight: Dan Henderson at TBA
Previous Ranking: 1
Jon Jones’ win over Rashad Evans has to be considered the biggest of his career, as it crushed all doubts that Evans had an edge over him due to their past as training partners.
With the win over Evans, Jones has taken out almost every single threat in the light heavyweight division, and the lone deserving challenger left is former UFC title challenger Dan Henderson.
If Jones is able to defeat Henderson later this year he will have taken out every single big name in the division and may be on his way to a superfight against a fellow champion.