UFC 148: Top 10 Light Heavyweights in the UFC

Andrew Saunders@SaundersMMACorrespondent IIJuly 8, 2012

UFC 148: Top 10 Light Heavyweights in the UFC

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    Some big stories came out of the light-heavyweight division in the aftermath of UFC 148. Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz officially retired, former champion Forrest Griffin played the drama-queen card before the decision was read and Rashad Evans has announced his intentions to challenge Anderson Silva at middleweight.

    Here is a look at the top 10 light heavyweights in the UFC.

10. Rampage Jackson

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    Last Fight: Decision loss to Ryan Bader at UFC 144 
    Next Fight: TBD

    The once-great Rampage Jackson has lost his status after challenging Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight championship. Despite coming into the battle in terrific shape, Jackson would fall to the champion via submission.

    In his last performance, Jackson reportedly came into a fight with Ryan Bader sporting a knee injury. The former PRIDE star missed weight by six pounds and he was stifled by the Arizona wrestler en route to a decision loss.

    Since leaving to film The A Team, Jackson has put together a 2-3 record, and one of those wins came via controversial decision in a UFC 123 fight with Lyoto Machida. 

9. Forrest Griffin

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    Last Fight: Decision win over Tito Ortiz at UFC 148 
    Next Fight: TBD

    Forrest Griffin might just be the worst sport in MMA history. At the end of the third round, Griffin assumed that he had just lost a decision to The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, and he had absolutely no desire to be there when the scores were read.

    In what is becoming more commonplace than we'd like to acknowledge, Griffin left the cage in an emotional state and began hustling to the back. Were it not for Dana White chasing the former champ down and sending him back to the cage, Joe Rogan would not have been able to talk to the winner post-fight.

    Normally after a win over a Hall of Famer, the No. 9 fighter on this list would see a bump in the rankings. However, Griffin looked sluggish last night, and was lucky that Ortiz showed up out of shape.

8. Phil Davis

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    Last Fight: Decision loss to Rashad Evans at UFC on Fox 2
    Next Fight: vs. Wagner Prado at UFC on Fox 4

    Phil Davis is a rising star who took a big step up and failed miserably. Many believed that he could defeat former UFC champion Rashad Evans back in January, but the wrestling prodigy was steamrolled by Suga in the process.

    Fighters commonly learn more from their first loss than they do from most of their wins. Expect to see the best Mr. Wonderful we've ever seen when he takes on promotional newcomer Wagner Prado this month.

7. Alexander Gustafsson

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    Last Fight: Decision win over Thiago Silva at UFC on Fuel 3
    Next Fight: TBD

    The bottom half of the light heavyweight division has some hot prospects that are climbing the ranks. At No. 7 sits Alexander Gustafsson, who is currently riding a five-fight winning streak.

    Wins for the Swede have come over Matt Hamill, Vladimir Matyushenko and most recently against Thiago Silva. The Mauler utilized his jab and reach to outstrike his opponent en route to a unanimous decision win.

    Gustafsson was considered to be a top candidate to replace and injured Thiago Silva at UFC 149 in a battle with former champion Shogun Rua, but a report from BloodyElbow informs us that the Mauler is out until October with a broken hand.

6. Ryan Bader

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    Last Fight: Decision win over Rampage Jackson at UFC 144
    Next Fight: vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC on Fox 4

    When Ryan Bader suffered back-to-back losses against future champion Jon Jones and former champion Tito Ortiz, it appeared that he was nothing more than a prospect who would never live up to the high expectations that we had of him.

    At UFC 144, Bader was given another chance to show us his worth when he took on former champion Rampage Jackson. Bader would use his wrestling to control the PRIDE legend and collect the biggest win of his career.

    Bader also has wins over Lil Nog and Keith Jardine.

5. Lyoto Machida

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    Last Fight: Submission loss to Jon Jones at UFC 140
    Next Fight: vs. Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4

    The man who fights Bader next is none other than former UFC champion Lyoto "the Dragon" Machida.

    Machida has lost three of his past four contests; however, one of those is a controversial decision to Rampage Jackson. The other losses came at the hands of Shogun Rua and Jon Jones.

    Despite his rough string of luck, there is no question that Machida is an elite fighter who can challenge the best of the best. 

4. Shogun Rua

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    Last Fight: Unanimous decision loss to Dan Henderson at UFC 139
    Next Fight: vs. Brandon Vera at UFC on Fox 4

    The man known as Shogun most recently competed in what many are calling the greatest fight in UFC history when he battled Dan Henderson at UFC 139. The back-and-forth battle saw both men on the brink of defeat, but would ultimately go to Hendo is a close decision.

    Some argue that the fight should have been scored a draw. If you pair that with Rua's controversial decision loss to Lyoto Machida, an argument could be made that the former PRIDE GP champion should be 5-1-1 in his last seven Octagon appearances.

    Shogun returns next month to battle Brandon Vera in the main event of UFC on Fox 4.

3. Rashad Evans

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    Last Fight: Unanimous Decision loss to Jon Jones at UFC 145
    Next Fight: TBD

    Rashad Evans took to Twitter last night and called out reigning Middleweight champion (and occasional Light Heavyweight) Anderson Silva. After losing his championship opportunity against Jon Jones, Evans knows that a quicker road to title contention lies at 185 pounds.

    Evans previously hinted at a move to middleweight when his teammate Jon Jones won the light heavyweight championship in 2011.

    With no clear-cut contenders left at middleweight, a battle with Evans is the biggest money fight that is on the table for Anderson at this point. Could Evans leave this list all together and find himself in the middleweight rankings next month? We'll see what Joe Silva decides to do.

2. Dan Henderson

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    Last Fight: Unanimous decision win over Shogun Rua at UFC 139
    Next Fight: vs. Jon Jones at UFC 151

    When Dan Henderson left the UFC at the age of 39, many believed that his career was winding down. Who would have guessed that he would go on to capture gold in Strikeforce, knock out the greatest heavyweight in history and then put on one of the best fights of all time en route to earning another crack at a UFC championship.

    Hendo challenges Jon Jones at UFC 151 in what appears to be the last major challenger standing in the champ's way. 

    Can Hendo be the one to take Jones down? Will his legendary chin be able to stand up to the unorthodox power striking of Jones? Can his wrestling keep him on the feet or will he be forced to fight from his back?

1. Jon Jones

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    Last Fight: Unanimous decision win over Rashad Evans at UFC 145
    Next Fight: vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 151

    The reigning UFC champion has been climbing the pound-for-pound rankings since winning the belt. After victories over the top four fighters in his division, Jones is moving on to the sole contender who sits on the horizon: Dan Henderson.

    Jones has an impressive wrestling background along with peculiar striking that could make things tough for the former Olympian. If Bones can pull off the victory, he would have cleaned out the most storied division that the UFC has ever seen.