UFC Fight Night 26 Results: Top 10 Light Heavyweights in the UFC
Chael Sonnen may be headed back to the middleweight division, but he wasn't going to make the move without leaving his mark on the 205-pound class.
At UFC Fight Night 26, Sonnen submitted Mauricio Rua. With that result, Rua is nearly out of title contention altogether, while Sonnen could probably make a run at a light heavyweight title shot if he wanted to.
Regardless of where Sonnen ends up, his win on Saturday shook up the light heavyweight division significantly.
Here are the top 10 fighters in the weight class.
10. Glover Teixeira
If only because he hasn't fought Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira is one of the most intriguing contenders in the light heavyweights division.
Still, Teixeira has some work to do to prove he's one of the very best in the division. Teixeira hasn't lost in years, but his biggest win came against Quinton Jackson, who is no longer with MMA's top promotion.
Teixeira will fight Ryan Bader in September. If he dominates that fight like he has dominated others, then it will be time to start considering Teixeira for a title shot.
9. Mauricio Rua
Although he's only 31 years old, Mauricio Rua is looking like a fighter whose career is winding down.
Following his submission loss to Chael Sonnen, Rua has lost three of his past four fights. Rua's lone win during that span came against a low-ranked Brandon Vera.
Unless he can get things turned around soon, Rua may be looking at an early retirement from MMA.
8. Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson will challenge Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title, but his resume continues to look less impressive as Mauricio Rua plummets.
While Gustafsson's six straight wins are impressive, Rua is the only top-10 light heavyweight he's beaten, and "Shogun" is now barely hanging onto a spot in the 205-pound rankings.
We will soon find out if Gustafsson is biting off more than he can chew with Jones. Either way, Gustafsson has easily secured a spot among the top 10 light heavyweights.
7. Chael Sonnen
Chael Sonnen may have fought his last 205-pound fight on Saturday. If so, he'll leave the division as one of the top light heavyweight contenders.
After losing to Jon Jones in a money-making title fight, Sonnen didn't appear to have much of a future at 205 pounds. However, Sonnen's submission win over Mauricio Rua at UFC Fight Night 26 leaves him with options.
Sonnen is much more of a title threat in the middleweight class, but he can make noise at light heavyweight if he wants to.
6. Dan Henderson
Dan Henderson remains competitive with elite light heavyweights, but the 42-year-old may never see another UFC title shot.
Following a knee injury that robbed him of a championship bout against Jon Jones, Henderson has dropped back-to-back decisions against Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida.
Henderson is still a contender, but every passing day puts him closer to retirement.
5. Rashad Evans
Rashad Evans recently picked up an important win over Dan Henderson, but he may have a better shot at earning a title shot at 185 pounds than he will in the light heavyweight division.
Prior to his win over Henderson, Evans lost back-to-back fights and appeared to be on the decline. Even with his win over Henderson, Evans no longer looks like a fighter capable of challenging former teammate and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
A move to middleweight would reignite fan interest in Evans and could put him on the fast track toward another UFC championship.
4. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira picked up the right win at the right time and is now one of the top contenders in the light heavyweight division.
After back-to-back losses to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis, Nogueira caught Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans at low points in their careers and defeated both to skyrocket upward in the 205-pound rankings.
The 37-year-old will have to make the most of this short title contention window he's earned. Nogueira is likely to fight a top-10 light heavyweight again in his next outing. A win would arguably put him in title shot conversation, but a loss could erase all his hopes of ever fighting for a UFC championship.
3. Lyoto Machida
Lyoto Machida was supposed to receive title shots after his past two wins, but he now has some decisions to make after losing in a controversial decision to Phil Davis.
Before his loss to Davis, Machida had defeated Ryan Bader and Dan Henderson in back-to-back fights. With those victories, Machida was widely considered the second-best light heavyweight in the world.
Now, though, Machida may be forced to make a move to middleweight to find his quickest path to a title shot.
2. Phil Davis
A controversial win over Lyoto Machida has pushed Phil Davis to the top of the list of light heavyweight contenders.
Even after his loss to Rashad Evans, Davis was considered a contender in the 205-pound class. However, a bout with Machida was seen as undeserved after rebounding with only two wins.
Davis did not mount much offense against Machida, but late takedowns appeared to make the difference on the scorecards and earned him an important win, no matter how debatable.
1. Jon Jones
Jon Jones isn't only the best light heavyweight today. He may already be the best light heavyweight ever.
At 26 years old, Jones has already tied Tito Ortiz's record for most consecutive UFC light heavyweight title defenses. He's also defended his belt against tougher competition than Ortiz did despite his bouts with middleweight contenders Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen.
If Jones beats Alexander Gustafsson in September, the arguments against him being the best 205-pound fighter ever may vanish.