UFC 161 Results: Top 10 Light Heavyweights in the UFC
On Saturday night, light heavyweights collided in a major way at UFC 161.
In the evening's main event, former world champions Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans did battle for 15 closely contested minutes. At the end of the bout, it was anyone's guess whose arm would be raised. When the night was over, Henderson found himself on the wrong end of a split decision for the second time this year.
How did the clash of contenders impact the UFC light heavyweight rankings?
Here is a look at Bleacher Report's top 10 light heavyweights after UFC 161.
10. Ryan Bader
The 10th spot in our countdown of top light heavyweights came down to either Ryan Bader or Strikeforce import Gegard Mousasi. With Mousasi contemplating a move to middleweight, the slight advantage goes to the Ultimate Fighter winner.
Ryan Bader is currently 8-3 inside the Octagon, with all three losses coming to men who have held UFC gold. The biggest win of Bader's Zuffa tenure came at UFC 144, where he defeated Rampage Jackson via decision.
Darth suffered a major setback at UFC on Fox 4 when he was knocked out by Lyoto Machida in violent fashion.
Earlier this year, Bader set a UFC record for fastest submission in 205-pound history when he choked out Vladimir Matyushenko in only 50 seconds.
9. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Having not seen consecutive wins since 2009, the Mauricio "Shogun" Rua who once held the UFC light heavyweight championship seems to have vanished. In fact, in his last trio of bouts, Rua's sole victory came during a winded performance against unranked Brandon Vera.
At UFC 161, Rua was hoping to get himself out of that funk by taking on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Unfortunately, the bout fell to the wayside when "Lil Nog" dropped out due to injury.
Now, Rua is slated to fight Chael Sonnen in the main event of UFC on Fox Sports 1. A win would get the PRIDE standout back on solid footing. A loss would send him torpedoing from the rankings.
8. Phil Davis
Phil Davis had a chance to prove himself as a legitimate title contender last year when he met Rashad Evans at UFC on Fox 2. It ended up being a hard lesson for the NCAA standout to learn, as Evans dominated the five-round affair from pillar to post.
Undefeated in his three appearances since that time, Davis is getting a major step up in competition at UFC 163, where he will meet Lyoto Machida in the evening's co-main event.
Let's hope that he says lots of prayers between now and then.
7. Glover Teixeira
Glover Teixeira is one of those cases where fans are ready to count their chickens before they hatch. Pegged as the man to dethrone Jon Jones since his sophomore UFC appearance, Teixeira is one of the most exciting prospects in the light heavyweight division.
That being said, his biggest career win came against Rampage Jackson, a guy who was ranked No. 9 at the time of their matchup. For that reason, the No. 4 contender ranking awarded by the official UFC rankings is an absolute joke.
Hopefully, the UFC will put together a Teixeira versus Rashad Evans matchup later this year. That will give us an opportunity to see how good Teixeira really is while giving him a chance to make a case for a title shot.
6. Dan Henderson
What a crazy year it has been for Dan Henderson. The dual-division PRIDE champion finally earned his long-awaited crack at a UFC championship, but he blew out his knee. Then he dripped consecutive decisions that honestly could have gone either way, which dropped him completely out of the title picture.
Depending on how you scored Henderson's 2013 appearances, the beholder of the H-Bomb could still be the No. 1 contender or he could have fallen out of the top five entirely. Personally, I scored the Machida fight against Dan and Saturday's bout for him.
In any case, the fact remains that Hendo is on a two-fight losing streak on the back of his eighth and ninth career split decisions. For that reason, he could not be allowed to keep a spot in the top five.
5. Rashad Evans
On Saturday night, Rashad Evans returned to the win column for the first time since early 2012. Although he failed to get Dan Henderson to the ground, he was able to use superior speed and movement to gain a slight edge.
I'd love to bump Evans into the No. 4 spot on this countdown, but with losses in two of his last three appearances and a razor-thin margin of victory in his most recent fight, the former champ doesn't have the momentum that warrants the ranking.
Evans will hopefully be paired up with Glover Teixeira later this year. Cross your fingers, because that matchup will either give the division a new title contender or see Evans derail a massive hype train.
4. Alexander Gustafsson
Due to the peculiar tendency for MMA fans to immediately embrace European fighters who score wins over above-average talent, I'm preparing for incoming shrapnel now.
Sure, Alexander Gustafsson is on a six-fight win streak, but let's not forget that only one name on that list is, or has ever been, a top-10 light heavyweight.
Other wins came against:
— Thiago Silva: one win in last five fights
— Vladimir Matyushenko: first-round losses in three of his last five
— Matt Hamill: unranked, retired immediately after the fight
— James Te-Huna: far from ranked
— Cyrille Diabate: never close to being ranked
Give the guy credit where it is due: He is winning at a time when other light heavyweights struggle to build momentum. That being said, he is not ready for a title shot, and he is going to be absolutely destroyed at UFC 165.
3. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Personally, I don't care what you think about how high I rank Lil Nog. In the words of the immortal Ric Flair, "To be the man, you've got to beat the man." And guess what? Nogueira beat Rashad Evans at a time when "Suga" was the No. 3 light heavyweight on the planet.
Sure, he has had trouble with ranked wrestlers in the past, but MMA rankings are a snapshot of where we are now. By over-valuing the results of fights more than two years old, we are ignoring the development that a fighter makes over time.
Say what you want about Nogueira coming in at No. 3, but there is no man on this list below him with equal-caliber wins who aren't either in a skid or recently exited one.
For those reasons, I have no problem putting Nogueira in the No. 3 spot of the light heavyweight division.
2. Lyoto Machida
Lyoto Machida doesn't budge in our countdown. The Dragon is the rightful top contender to Jon Jones' title, and he has won two important fights to earn that distinction.
After knocking Ryan Bader into a coma last summer, Machida returned at UFC 157, where he was able to outpoint then-No. 1 contender Dan Henderson.
Next on his plate is a co-main event affair against Phil Davis at UFC 163. While the NCAA standout is no easy challenge for any man, Machida has yet to have any trouble with wrestlers, and he will have a field day with Davis if the fight remains standing.
1. Jon Jones
The champion got out of a twice-earned rematch with Lyoto Machida and will instead face Alexander "I have no business being ranked so high" Gustafsson at UFC 165.
Fans and oddsmakers alike aren't giving Gustafsson much chance to upset the champion—and for good reason. Jones has manhandled some of the light heavyweight division's most proven entities. He surely won't have much trouble picking apart an unproven commodity whose only win over a ranked opponent came against a washed-up version of Shogun Rua.
With one more win, Jon Jones will break the record for most title defenses in UFC 205-pound history. Considering that this is a division that was considered home for the likes of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz, that is a major feather to stick in his cap.