Gegard Mousasi had a great opportunity to make a statement in his UFC debut when he was scheduled to fight Alexander Gustafsson. Unfortunately for both light heavyweights, Gustafsson was unable to compete at UFC on Fuel TV 9 due to a cut over his left eye.
Instead of fighting one of the top contenders in the 205-pound division, Mousasi ended up meeting unknown UFC newcomer and Gustafsson teammate Ilir Latifi. While Mousasi came away with the win, it did little to move him toward title contention.
Still, Mousasi should meet a top-10 light heavyweight in his next appearance. Here are the elite 205-pound UFC fighters Mousasi should be asking to fight next.
Record: 20-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC
Glover Teixeira has emerged as a contender in only thee Octagon appearances, but there are still some doubters considering the Brazilian's biggest win came against a rapidly fading Quinton Jackson.
A bout with Ryan Bader would have given Teixeira a chance to take another step forward, but the TUF winner was forced out of the scheduled matchup due to injury. Instead, Teixeira will attempt to hold his ground in the top 10 with a win over James Te-Huna.
Teixeira's willingness to trade should make his bout with fellow light heavyweight slugger Te-Huna a very exciting one. Unfortunately, a win over Te-Huna won't do much to move Teixeira closer to a 205-pound title shot.
Record: 16-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC
Ryan Bader's bid to challenge for a UFC championship hit a wall when he met Lyoto Machida at UFC on Fox 4, but the former TUF winner bounced back quickly with a submission win over Vladimir Matyushenko.
A scheduled bout against Glover Teixeira would have given Bader a chance to return to serious title contention, but an injury spoiled that potential matchup.
With eight UFC victories, Bader has become one of the better products of The Ultimate Fighter series, but it's clear he has some work to do in order to become a real threat to win the title someday.
Record: 10-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC
It's taking Phil Davis time to build himself back up following a loss to Rashad Evans, but he is still a potential title threat should he continue improving.
Davis learned that MMA wrestling is a different animal than amateur wrestling in his bout with Evans, so he could take himself to another level as long as he takes that lesson to heart.
A win over fellow grappler Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 159 would put Davis back in a position to be fighting against elite light heavyweights.
Record: 22-3-1 MMA, 12-3-1 UFC
Prior to his title shot against Jon Jones, Rashad Evans was widely considered the clear No. 2 light heavyweight in the world.
He is now quickly headed in the wrong direction.
Following his loss to Jones, Evans turned in one of the worst performances of his career against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. That defeat bumped Evans out of the immediate title picture, but he could turn things around in a hurry with a win over Dan Henderson at UFC 161.
Record: 21-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC
After losing back-to-back fights to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis, it was beginning to look as though Antonio Rogerio Nogueira's stay with the UFC would be cut short.
However, Nogueira turned things around with a win over Tito Ortiz and now finds himself ranked above both Bader and Davis by beating Rashad Evans, who picked up a win over Davis more recently than Nogueira's loss to the NCAA champion wrestler occurred.
There is still some doubt regarding Nogueira's proximity to the light heavyweight division's elite due to Evans' lack of urgency in the bout between the two veterans. However, Nogueira will have the chance to prove he really is an elite 205-pound fighter when he meets Mauricio Rua at UFC 161.
Record: 21-7 MMA, 5-4 UFC
The road hasn't been made easy for Mauricio Rua since he joined the UFC roster. Aside from Alexander Gustafsson and Brandon Vera, all Rua's UFC opponents were champions at one point or another.
That tough path has left Rua without consecutive wins in the past four years.
Slipping away from the peak of the light heavyweight division, Rua now finds himself in a rematch with fellow Brazilian Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In June 2005, Rua met Nogueira under the Pride FC banner and won via decision.
Record: 29-9 MMA, 6-3 UFC
It's hard not to feel for Dan Henderson. The 42-year-old was lined up for one last shot at a UFC championship, but he had that chance ripped away by a knee injury and is now multiple wins away from being the top contender again following a loss to Lyoto Machida.
Henderson is now lined up with a fight against a fellow fading contender in Rashad Evans. Should he lose that bout, the former Pride FC champion could be left to make a decision between retiring and moving to the 185-pound division for one last run.
Then again, a win over Evans would put Henderson back in the hunt and could even position him for a title shot eliminator.
Record: 19-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC
Lyoto Machida has separated himself as the top light heavyweight contender in the eyes of many. However, Alexander Gustafsson is hot on his tail and may end up being Machida's next opponent should 205-pound champion Jones Jones beat Chael Sonnen and get set up with an Anderson Silva superfight.
While Machida's knockout of Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4 was jaw-dropping, his recent victory over Dan Henderson was lackluster to say the least. Aside from those wins, Machida's only other triumph over the past three years came against a now-retired Randy Couture.
Machida did give Jones one of his toughest tests, but the Brazilian doesn't have as much upside as Gustafsson and has only won half of his past six fights.
Record: 15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC
Alexander Gustafsson suffered an unfortunate cut over his left eye that forced him out of the UFC on Fuel TV 9 main event against Gegard Mousasi. While not ideal, the injury could actually work out for Gustafsson by setting up a bout with Lyoto Machida, who is currently considered to be next in line for a light heavyweight title shot.
While Machida is considered closer to the top of the 205-pound division by UFC brass, Gustafsson has been more impressive lately.
Though he hardly embarrassed Mauricio Rua, Gustafsson recently defeated "Shogun" more comfortably than both Henderson and Machida could in their meetings with the former champion. Gustafsson is also riding the momentum of a much longer winning streak than Machida's back-to-back victories.
Record: 17-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC
At only 25 years old, Jon Jones has already matched Chuck Liddell's UFC light heavyweight title reign with four straight title defenses. When he meets Chael Sonnen at UFC 159, Jones will have a chance to match Tito Ortiz's 205-pound record of five consecutive title defenses.
While things in MMA can change in a hurry, it sure is beginning to look like Jones is on his way toward becoming one of the best to ever step inside the Octagon.
Should he beat Sonnen later this month, a superfight with long-reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva could become a possibility. A move to heavyweight is also potentially in Jones' future plans.