This is part one of a five part series examining each of the most common weight classes including lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. See how your favorite fighters rank and offer your own opinions. Let the debate begin.
Light Heavyweight Rankings – 205 lbs
1) Mauricio (Shogun) Rua (UFC): 16 – 3 MMA Record
Rua is one of the most dynamic strikers in MMA. 13 of his 16 wins have come via knockout. Shogun is the face of the next generation of fighters coming from the Chute Boxe camp in Curitiba, Brazil. He is a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and Muoy Thai. His style is aggressive, coming forward, constantly putting pressure on his opponents, and he has knockout power with his hands and feet.
Shogun is coming off a loss to Forrest Griffin, however, it was his first fight in the octagon and he was understandably nervous. The octagon itself also takes some getting used to coming over from PRIDE. Rua largely dominated the Griffin fight and most likely would have won a decision until he made a mistake with 15 seconds left in the final round and was submitted.
I give him the nod over Quinton Jackson because he dominated a head-to-head match with Rampage in PRIDE that resulted in a first round knockout victory for Rua.
Rua was signed on to face Chuck Liddell at UFC 85 but he blew out his knee training and now he will be on the shelf for a while. The good news is he is only 26 years old and can only get better. When he is healthy I would put him up against anyone on this list and feel confident.
2) Quinton Jackson (UFC): 28 – 6, Current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
Rampage is essentially 1b on this list. He has won his last six fights against top level opponents including Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell and Matt Lindland. He has yet to be physically tested since joining the UFC.
His next opponent will be Forrest Griffin after The Ultimate Fighter season is complete. Expect him to beat Griffin. Rampage should rule this division in the UFC for a while until Rua is healthy, ready and deserving of a rematch.
3) Chuck Liddell (UFC): 21 – 5, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
Liddell has entered the twilight of his career and has lost two of his last three fights, however, he is coming off an impressive victory over Wanderlei Silva.
He is still as dangerous as anyone in this division in the UFC on his feet. He still has plenty to give. Expect him to defeat Rashad Evans at UFC 85 and get a rematch with Quinton Jackson.
4) Lyoto Machida (UFC): 12 – 0
Machida, in my opinion, deserves a title shot against Rampage before Liddell does, however, Liddell will be a big draw and Machida is a relative unknown even to some die hard MMA and UFC fans.
He is undefeated with impressive victories over former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin, Former UFC Welterweight and Current UFC Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn, Stephan Bonnar and Sokoudjou. He is a rising star in this weight class and will make a name for himself sooner rather than later.
5) Wanderlei Silva (UFC): 31 – 8, Former PRIDE Middleweight Champion
Silva, like Liddell, is entering the twilight of his career. He has lost his last three fights, however, they have been against top flight fighters Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson and Mirko Cro Cop.
Silva looked apprehensive, on his heels, and had a visibly smaller body type for the Liddell fight. All these characteristics are out of character for him. Silva is arguably the most exciting and aggressive fighter in the history of MMA.
I expect him to bounce back at UFC 84 and defeat Keith Jardine and I would take his experience and potential explosive power over any of the fighters ranked below.
6) Forrest Griffin (UFC): 15 – 4
Griffin is a great fighter, however, in my opinion he is slightly overrated due to his overwhelming popularity in the UFC. His victory over Mauricio Rua is his only victory over a top flight light heavyweight fighter in his entire MMA career.
I do believe he would win a rematch with Jardine. He is better on his feet and on the ground than Jardine. He will certainly get a chance to prove himself against Rampage for the Light Heavyweight Title, although I don’t believe he deserves a title shot at this point.
7) Rashad Evans (UFC): 11 – 0 – 1
Evans and Griffin are largely interchangeable parts on this list. Evans is undefeated but has faced second-rate light heavyweight talent.
He will get his first crack at light heavyweight stardom when he takes on Chuck Liddell at UFC 85. This could vault him ahead of Griffin and maybe even Silva on the list, but don’t expect him to beat Liddell.
8) Keith Jardine (UFC): 13 – 3
Jardine is a model of inconsistency. For every impressive victory (Liddell, Griffin) there are other fights (Alexander, Bonnar) where he makes you scratch your head.
He is a one dimensional fighter on his feet which could present more problems for him going forward. His UFC 84 match with Wanderlei Silva will be another big test.
9) Tito Ortiz (UFC): 15 – 5, Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
Ortiz’ fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 will be his last UFC fight due to his contract expiring. He is one of the best light heavyweights in UFC history, and in my opinion, he will fade away and be forgotten due to his broken relationship with Dana White whether he wins or not and that will be unfortunate.
10) Thiago Silva (UFC): 12 – 0
Silva is an up-and-coming star waiting in the wings. He is undefeated with 10 of his 12 victories coming by way of knockout. His knockout victory of Houston Alexander at UFC 78 made UFC fans take notice. Silva will only improve training at the Chute Boxe camp. Keep an eye on him going forward.
- All 10 fighters are in the UFC
- UFC 84 will be a great barometer for this weight class
- Numbers 5-8 were the toughest to rank
- I did not include Dan Henderson since he last fought at middleweight
- Brandon Vera or Anderson Silva could be very competitive at this weight
- How can you not feel bad for Mauricio Rua and his knee injury?