B/R Official Rankings for August: The Top 10 Light Heavyweights in MMA
While July didn’t feature many meaningful fights in the light heavyweight division, August started things off with a bang, as four 205-lb fighters looked to earn a shot at a UFC title.
Shogun Rua, Brandon Vera, Lyoto Machida and Ryan Bader all fought on the UFC on Fox 4 event, and while both Rua and Machida were able to stop their opponents in impressive fashion, it was “The Dragon” who earned the right to fight the winner of the Jon Jones-Dan Henderson bout set for next month.
Even though Jones has defeated half the fighters on this list, the light heavyweight division is still wide open, and anyone in the top 10 is just a big win or two away from a title fight.
These rankings are the combined efforts of some of Bleacher Report MMA's best writers, as we continue to try and provide you with the best content on the web
10. Rampage Jackson
Most Recent Fight: loss to Ryan Bader at UFC 144
Next Fight: Glover Teixeira at UFC 153
Previous Ranking: 10th
In just a couple of months, we may see Rampage Jackson’s final fight inside the UFC’s Octagon.
The former champion has been very critical of the organization since his loss to Ryan Bader at UFC 144, and now, it looks like the UFC may be prepared to let his contract run out after his UFC 153 fight against Glover Teixeira.
Rampage still remains a major draw amongst casual fans, but his mouth may make him a disposable commodity.
9. Forrest Griffin
Most Recent Fight: defeated Tito Ortiz at UFC 148
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: ninth
After winning the rubber match against Tito Ortiz at UFC 148, you would think things would be looking up for Forrest Griffin.
The former Ultimate Fighter winner didn’t exactly set the world on fire with his win over Ortiz, and his post-fight antics, (running out of the cage, stealing the microphone from Joe Rogan) didn’t sit well with a lot of MMA fans.
Now, UFC president Dana White recently came out and said he thinks Griffin should retire.
While Griffin may not have too much left in the tank, he obviously wants to keep fighting for the fans, and as long as he keeps winning, his spot on this list will be secure.
8. Ryan Bader
Most Recent Fight: loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC on Fox 4
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: sixth
Ryan Bader was riding high after defeating Rampage Jackson at UFC 144, but his momentum was just shattered by Lyoto Machida’s right hand.
Usually, Bader comes out with a solid game plan, but he looked lost from the start against Machida. The longer the fight went on, the more risks Bader was forced to take, and eventually, Machida made him pay.
Bader has fought against quite a few of the top guys at light heavyweight at this point, and his next fight against a big name could decide whether or not he’s an actual title threat.
7. Phil Davis
Record: 9-1 (1)
Most Recent Fight: No Contest vs Wagner Prado at UFC on Fox 4
Next Fight: Wagner Prado at TBA
Previous Ranking: eighth
Things haven’t gone so “wonderful” for Phil Davis in 2012.
The former Penn St. wrestling star was dominated by Rashad Evans in a unanimous decision loss at UFC on Fox 2 in January, and after an eight-month layoff, Davis was set to fight Wagner Prado at UFC on Fox 4.
Unfortunately, Davis accidentally poked Prado in the eye just moments into the fight, and when Prado told the ringside doctor he couldn’t see, the fight was stopped.
The bout ended in a no contest, and now, it looks like Davis and Prado will be rescheduled for UFC on FX 5 in October.
6. Alexander Gustafsson
Most Recent Fight: won vs. Thiago Silva at UFC on Fuel 2
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: seventh
The hottest prospect at light heavyweight since Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous fighters in the division.
The Swede showed off some excellent footwork and movement in his three-round dismantling of Thiago Silva in April, and he’s proved he can finish when he knocked out Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC 141 in December.
Gustafsson may be the biggest threat to Jones at this point, but the UFC is going to let him slowly work his way up the 205-lb ladder before throwing him into the deep end.
5. Shogun Rua
Most Recent Fight: defeated Brandon Vera at UFC on Fox 4
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: fourth
It wasn’t pretty, but Shogun Rua got the job done against Brandon Vera.
Shogun was forced into an exhausting slugfest with “The Truth” and the grueling pace took its toll on both men.
After battering Vera with punches all night long, eventually Shogun was able to land the combination to put his opponent away, and with the win, he enters title contention again.
With Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida already in line for title bouts, Shogun is going to have to fight at least one more time before he gets a shot at getting his belt back.
4. Rashad Evans
Most Recent Fight: loss to Jon Jones at UFC 145
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: third
Even though he hasn’t even gotten a fight scheduled since his loss to Jon Jones at UFC 145, Rashad Evans drops on our list.
The former champion has been hard at work as a broadcaster on Fuel TV, but we haven’t heard much from Evans as far as a return to the cage goes.
Evans recently brought up a possible move to middleweight and an eventual title fight against Anderson Silva, something that fans have talked about for a long time.
Whether he remains at 205 or decides to make the cut to middleweight, Evans is one of the best fighters in the sport, and when you throw in his popularity, he’s always a win away from a title shot.
3. Lyoto Machida
Most Recent Fight: Defeated Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4
Next Fight: N/A
Previous Ranking: fifth
Lyoto Machida jumps a few spots in this months ranking due to his complete destruction of Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4.
Machida seemed like he was toying with Bader on the feet, dodging his punches with ease and countering at will.
When a frustrated Bader rushed in on his opponent early in the second round, Machida just stuck out his right hand, and it connected cleanly with Bader’s face.
Now, all that’s left is to wait on the sidelines for the winner of Jones-Henderson to emerge, and we could see Machida fighting for the title by the end of the year.
2. Dan Henderson
Most Recent Fight: defeated Shogun Rua at UFC 139
Next Fight: vs. Jon Jones at UFC 151
Previous Ranking: second
It seems like a lot of people are already counting out Dan Henderson before his fight against Jon Jones, but you’re crazy if you think one of the five best fighters in the history of the sport is going to go down easily.
Henderson has an insane amount of power in his hands, and his world-class wrestling skills make him a formidable threat for any opponent.
While Jones will be the favorite heading into the fight, and deservedly so, he knows that he’s always one big right hand away from losing his belt.
1. Jon Jones
Most Recent Fight: Win vs. Rashad Evans at UFC 145
Next Fight: vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 151
Previous Ranking: first
The champ has dismantled half of the guys on this list already, and he’s looking to make it a majority when he fights Dan Henderson next month.
Jones and Henderson headline the UFC 151 event on September 1st, and Henderson represents the last of the old guard at 205 looking to take out Jones.
“Bones” has already dominated former champions in Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, and if he's able to defeat Henderson, he will have defeated nearly every big name left in the light heavyweight division.
At just 25 years old, Jon Jones could be sitting on top of these rankings for a very long time.