UFC 165 Results: The Top 10 Light Heavyweights in the UFC
Jon "Bones" Jones defended his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship for a record sixth time inside the Octagon.
Alexander Gustafsson, ranked No. 1, came in as a steep underdog but gave the champion all he could handle. The razor-thin fight ended with a 48-47, 48-47, 49-46 decision for the champion, but Gustafsson certainly made his presence known.
His performance made the division a lot more interesting. No. 2-ranked Glover Teixeira kicked off the month of September with a decisive victory over former Top 10 fighter Ryan Bader. The contenders are starting to mount, and Jones has plenty of challengers for his gold.
These are the UFC's top 10 light heavyweights.
No. 10: Gegard Mousasi
Mousasi made his long-awaited UFC debut in April against Ilir Latifi. He was dominant against an overmatched opponent.
The fight was supposed to be against Alexander Gustafsson, but the commission in Sweden didn't allow that to happen because of a cut to "The Mauler." It was unfortunate for Mousasi, who took a significant step down in competition.
Mousasi may drop down to middleweight again, but there has not been definitive word on his next move.
He is on a seven-fight unbeaten streak. He should get recognized as one of the best fighters in the world, but the fans need to see him more often. Here's to hoping he graces the Octagon soon.
No. 9: Dan Henderson
After a Fight of the Year against Shogun Rua in 2011, Henderson was supposed to get a title shot, but injuries kept that from happening.
Henderson then met Lyoto Machida in a contender's bout, and the fight was nothing to write home about. Henderson lost a split decision in a fight where little happened. He would return against Rashad Evans in June.
Evans was more open than Machida, but Henderson was still unable to do much. He suffered another split-decision loss. Two straight losses dropped him in the rankings, but the setbacks don't move him out of the top 10 just yet. He was close to winning in both fights.
Henderson may not be in a position to challenge for a title immediately, but it will only take one or two big performances to move him back into the title picture.
No. 8: Chael Sonnen
Chael Sonnen is 1-1 since his return to the light heavyweight division, but he has already done enough to be ranked in the top 10.
Sonnen was on a two-fight losing streak entering his fight against Shogun Rua, but those two defeats were to the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC. There is no shame in losing to Anderson Silva and Jon Jones.
Shogun was ranked in the Top 10 and looking to rejoin the talk for title contention. Sonnen submitted the former champion in the first round in a stunning performance.
MMA is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and Sonnen has done a lot for the sport lately. His latest contribution was a swift and convincing victory over one of the legends of the sport.
No. 7: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Nogueira has only fought three times in the last three years, but the fights have all been against quality competition.
He is 2-1 in those fights and a winner in his last two: a stoppage over Tito Ortiz and a lackluster decision against Rashad Evans.
If Nogueira had been more convincing in his win over Evans or was more active in the division, he would likely be higher in the rankings. Regardless, he is a top-10 fighter. If he can get back in the cage before the end of the year against another quality opponent, it will thrust him back into the talk of potential challengers.
We will see whom he gets matched up against, but it would be fun to see a rematch against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
No. 6: Glover Teixeira
Glover Teixeira is the No. 2-ranked light heavyweight in the official UFC rankings, but he doesn't deserve the high ranking.
Teixeira is 22-2 overall and 5-0 in the UFC, but his low level of competition holds him back from the top five. He has yet to fight a single fighter ranked in the official Top Five. Yes, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Ryan Bader are quality fighters, but Bader wasn't even in the Top 10 when they fought.
Bader had been exposed by the elite of the division, and he gave Teixeira trouble early on. His overaggressiveness after hurting Teixeira led to his downfall when Teixeira connected flush. Who knows how that fight would have played out if Bader didn't attack recklessly.
Teixeira will get his chance to get a premier win in his next outing. He may not get a title shot, but he will fight a big name. Until then, I cannot put him in the top five.
No. 5: Rashad Evans
This will be the most controversial placement on the list, but hear me out.
After losing his title to Lyoto Machida, Evans won four straight fights. All four were against tough competitors. Thiago Silva, Quinton Jackson and Tito Ortiz were unable to topple the former champion. Then he had a title eliminator against Phil Davis, where he completely dominated the prospect.
Evans would go on to lose a decision against Jones, but he was the first to drag the champion to the scorecards in a title fight. Evans would return against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a very lackluster fight. Nogueira picked up the win, but neither fighter did much of anything.
Evans then returned to action against Dan Henderson. Evans did enough to pick up the split-decision win. The level of competition he has faced is second to none, and he has won more often than not. The win against Henderson should keep him up in the rankings.
No. 4: Lyoto Machida
Lyoto Machida is a former UFC light heavyweight champion, and he has been in the Top Five for a long time. He is moving to middleweight to battle Tim Kennedy, but until that bout officially takes place, he will be ranked in the light heavyweight division.
After dropping a title bid against Jones, Machida won two Top 10 fights against Ryan Bader and Dan Henderson. He was supposed to get title shots after both, but those never came to fruition.
Machida's last fight was a contentious decision loss to Phil Davis. Due to the nature of the loss, it is hard to drop him in the rankings. He still showed he is one of the best in the world in the weight class.
Watching Machida at 185 will be interesting, but should he return to the light heavyweight division, he would remain in the top five.
No. 3: Phil Davis
Phil Davis defeated Alexander Gustafsson in 2010, and then the title challenger moved to the U.S. to train alongside Davis. It paid off.
Meanwhile, Davis continued his ascent up the light heavyweight ladder. He had a setback against former champion Rashad Davis, but he rebounded to post three straight wins over Wagner Prado, Vinny Magalhaes and Lyoto Machida.
The Machida win was controversial, but it went down in the records books as a W over the then No. 1-ranked light heavyweight. It was his second Top 10 light heavyweight victory, and he also has the aforementioned win over Gustafsson before the Swede was ranked.
Davis doesn't get as much hype as others, but he is at the top of the division.
No. 2: Alexander Gustafsson
Gustafsson proved a lot of his critics wrong on Saturday, and I have to admit I am one of them.
I expected the champion to mow through Gustafsson like he has done to everyone else in the past, but low and behold, Gustafsson emerged as Jones' biggest threat. He not only won rounds against the champion, but he battered and bruised him throughout the fight.
I was wrong about "The Mauler."
He has improved dramatically during his time in the UFC, and should he continue that trend, he could be wearing gold in 2014.
No. 1: Jon Jones
Jon Jones is without question the top light heavyweight in the world right now. He is the greatest 205-pound fighter of all time. Hands down.
He finally set the new record for light heavyweight title defenses, but it came in his first competitive fight as champion. He steamrolled his way to the top of the mountain, but Gustafsson climbed up to challenge him on Saturday.
Jones is ranked No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings ever since Anderson Silva tasted defeat in July. Jones got to show his resolve at UFC 165 on Saturday, and that only goes to enhance his legacy.
Gustafsson closed the gap on Jones, but the champion keeps his seat.