The Best Division in all of MMA: The UFC Light Heavyweight Division

Frank Sanchez@frankiefrankoCorrespondent IJune 6, 2008

The UFC is already the best of the best as it comes to MMA in the fastest growing sport in the America and is not about to tap anytime soon. It’s no secret that this division, being the most dominant, has no dominant fighter like every other division. If you need a better explanation on that go read Tim Mann’s May 28th article on Division Killers. That being said, let me re-acquaint you with the absolute best division in all of the UFC that boasts 9 of the top 10 of all of MMA on, all of the top 10 on, and all 10 on Derek Bolenders March 10 Rankings (which would be great if he did one every quarter, hint hint ).


That being said I will run down a short list of UFC Light Heavyweights with records, previous and upcoming fights. Please note that there are 26 listed Light Heavyweights on so I will only get to the top 15 in a compiled order of the above mentioned lists along with, and



Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (27-6 Overall,      3-0 in the UFC)

The Undisputed UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

Last Fight:        UFC 75 (09/08/07) Dan Henderson – W – Unanimous Decision

Next Fight:       UFC 86 (07/06/08) Forrest Griffin – Light Heavyweight Title

- Rampage is currently the champ after winning a 5 round war over the last PRIDE Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson at UFC 75 and currently one of the coaches on the Spike series The Ultimate Fighter opposite his next opponent at UFC 86 Forrest Griffin. Currently #1 on everyone’s list since his beat down of Chuck Liddell in a grudge match and the victory over Henderson to unify the titles. He holds wins over Henderson, Matt Lindland, Murilo Rua, Kevin Randleman, and 2 wins over Liddell.



 “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell (21-5 Overall, 16-4 in the UFC)

Former Light Heavyweight Champion

Last Fight:        UFC 79 (12/29/07) Wanderlei Silva – W – Unanimous Decision

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- The Iceman has been the sports most recent big name and face of the UFC. He had 4 title defenses before dropping it to Rampage and has had a hall of fame career. Even at 38, his age is not an issue. Chucks fight history reads like the who’s who of MMA. He holds victories over Wanderlei Silva, Babablu Sobral, Jeremy Horn, Vitor Belfort, Kevin Randleman, Monson, and 2 over Tito Ortiz and Randy Couture.



Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida(13-0 Overall, 5-0 in the UFC)

Last Fight:        UFC 84 (05/24/08) Tito Ortiz – W – Unanimous Decision

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Lyoto is creeping up the UFC ladder and may soon be on the short list for a title shot. After 13 wins, 2 by submission and 3 by KO, Lyoto looks crafty and elusive. Although he may go to decision more often than not, all but 1 have been unanimous. He holds victories over Ortiz, Sokoudjou, Kazuhiro Nakamura, B.J. Penn, Rich Franklin and Stephen Bonnar.




Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (16-3 Overall, 0-1 in the UFC)

2005 PRIDE Grand Prix Tournament Middleweight (Light Heavyweight by US Standards) Champion, 2005 Fighter of the Year (Sherdog), 2007 # Fighter in the World (MMAWeekly)

Last Fight:        UFC 76 (09/22/07) Forrest Griffin – L – Submission (Choke)

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Shoguns reputation precedes him even today even though he had a tough loss to Forrest Griffin he still manages to stay near the top on most ranking boards. Hopefully for MMA & UFC fans, Shogun, and Chuck, they can all get healthy and reset the match that was to happen at UFC 85 a little later this year. Shogun will be looking to demonstrate the explosion he has shown with victories over Nakamura, Randleman, Ricardo Arona, Lil Nog, Rampage Jackson, Akihiro Gono, and Alistair Overeem twice.



Forrest Griffin(15-4 Overall, 6-2 in the UFC)

The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Champion (Light Heavyweight)

Last Fight:        UFC 76 (09/22/07) Mauricio Rua – W - Submission (Choke)

Next Fight:       UFC 86 (07/06/08) Quinton Jackson – Light Heavyweight Title

- Forrest, one of the highest profile guys in the UFC without a nickname is none for being a show-stealer ever since his Ultimate Fighter 1 Championship over Stephen Bonnar which was MMAWeeklys fight of the Year for 2005. His role on the current Ultimate Fighter 7 show as coach and recent victory over who Rampage himself called the BEST fighter in MMA, Shogun Rua, has propelled Griffinto the most visible and well known fighter in the UFC and MMA. A win over Jackson should solidify Griffinas the new face of the UFC. He holds wins over Mauricio Rua, Chael Sonnen, Jeff Monson and 2 over Bonnar.



Dan “Hendo” Henderson(22-8 Overall, 2-2 in the UFC)

1stever fighter to hold 2 titles at 2 different weight classes at the same time, Former PRIDE Middleweight (Light Heavyweight by US Standards) Championship, 2005 PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix Winner, Former PRIDE Welterweight Championship (Middleweight by US Standards), and UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament Winner 1998

Last Fight:        UFC 82 (03/01/08) Anderson Silva – L – Submission (Choke)

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Hendo has been an accomplished and feared fighter for most of his career. Even with back to back losses in the UFC, both for titles, Hendo remains up near the top of both the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight division. It is unclear which division he will compete in but whichever he does decide on, he will put on one heck of a show and look to get back on top. Hendo has wins over Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, Akhiro Gono, Nakamura, Murilo Rua, Renzo Gracie, Carlos Newton and Allan Goes.




“The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva (32-8-1 Overall, 2-3 in the UFC)

PRIDE FC World Middleweight Champion (2001-2007), 2003 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Winner, Former IVC Light Heavyweight Champion

Last Fight:        UFC 84 (05/24/08) Keith Jardine – W – Knockout

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Wanderlei Silva is determined to get a shot at Liddell and continue forward toward UFC gold. His 36 second destruction of up and comer Keith Jardine was evident of that. He also holds victories over fighters that includes the who’s who of the sport. Silva has wins over Jardine, Arona, Nakamura, Dan Henderson, Guy Mezger, and 2 over current Champion Rampage Jackson.



“The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (13-5-1 Overall, 5-3 in the UFC)

Last Fight:        UFC 84 (05/24/08) Wanderlei Silva – L – Knockout

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Jardine was coming up in the UFC world when he was stopped by a motivated Wanderlei Silva in the 1stround. Jardine, an Ultimate Fighter alumnus (Season 2 - Loss to Rashad Evans in the Semi-Finals by Unanimous Decision), will no doubt be looking forward to get back up the ladder. Regardless of his loss against Silva, he has recent victories Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin.



“The African Assassin” Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou (5-2 Overall, 1-1 in the UFC)

Last Fight:        UFC 84 (05/24/08) Kazuhiro Nakamura – W – TKO

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- The Cameroonian has ventured over to the Octagon and has found success with a win over Nakamura. He has been one of the more exciting fighters to watch and with so little experience comes great promise. Even though he has only 5 wins under his belt, already he has beaten the likes of Ricardo Arona and Lil Nog along with Kaz Nakamura.



“Sugar” Rashad Evans (16-0-1 Overall, 6-0-1 in the UFC)

The Ultimate Fighter 2 Champion (Heavyweight)

Last Fight:        UFC 78 (11/17/08) Michael Bisping – W – Split Decision

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Evans was scheduled to fight Thiago Silva at UFC 84 which would’ve threatened both fighters unbeaten streak but the UFC pulled Rashad so that he could fight Chuck Liddell in the Main Event of UFC 85. However, due to injury, Liddell was forced to pull out and the UFC substituted him with James Irvin. Irvin had just come off a record 8 second victory over Houston Alexander and looked to be a tough match-up for Evans. Irvin also suffered injury and Evans was removed from the card. Evans holds victories over Bisping, Jason Lambert, and Stephen Bonnar.



Thiago Silva (13-0 Overall, 4-0 in the UFC)

Fury Fight Grand Prix Champion 2006

Last Fight:        UFC 84 (05/24/08) Antonio Mendes – W – Submission (Strikes)

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Thiago was all set when he had that match-up set up with Rashad Evans to showcase why he was being overlooked. They both boasted undefeated streaks heading into the fight and both were looking to get up on that short list for championship contenders. Then Evans was pulled to headline UFC 85, but in the end, nothing came of it. Thiago then made waste of Mendes instead in Mendes’ debut in the UFC. Honestly, I am not sure why more ranking systems don’t have Thiago ranked a couple spots higher than this. Only 1 of his fights ever went to decision, 10 wins by knockout and 2 by submission. He holds wins over Houston Alexander and James Irvin.



Jason “The Punisher” Lambert (23-7 Overall, 4-2 in the UFC)

Former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion, Gladiator Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion

Last Fight:        UFC 80 (01/19/08) Wilson Gouveia – L – KO (Punch)

Next Fight:       UFC 85 (06/07/08) Luiz Cane

- Lambert was once in the Heavyweight Division before dropping to Light Heavyweight Before being derailed by Wilson Gouveia, Lambert had won 9 of his last 10 fights, with the other loss courtesy of Rashad Evans. Lambert has had 12 wins by knockout and 7 by submission. He has had some big name wins and looks to get back on track at UFC 85. He has beaten the likes of Babalu Sobral, Terry Martin and Marvin Eastman.



Goran Reljic (8-0 Overall, 1-0 in the UFC)

European Gracie Jiu Jitsu Championship (93 kg and absolute categories)

Last Fight:        UFC 84 (05/24/08) Wilson Gouviea – W – TKO

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Reljic comes over with high expectations and an unbeaten record plus a TKO win in his UFC debut in what proved to be a very exciting match that see-sawed throughout versus Gouviea. Although he has no proven victories with well known names on this side of the pond, his record and either submission or Knockout finish in 7 of 8 (1 decision) have proven to be the catalyst. He also trains with his fellow countryman Mirko Cro Cop.



The American Psycho” Stephen Bonnar (14-4 Overall, 5-3 in the UFC)

The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finalist (lost to Griffinin a war but was still awarded a contract by the UFC) Former Ironheart Crown light heavyweight champ, Former Total Fight challenge light heavyweight champ

Last Fight:        UFC 77 (10/20/07) Eric Schafer – W – TKO

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Bonnar has proven to be a tough competitor for every opponent and has been in all out wars. His 4 losses come only to fighters ranked above him on this list, he lost to Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin twice. Bonnar was to square off versus up and comer Matt Hamill at UFC Fight Night 13 in April when he was forced to withdraw due to a serious knee injury. 7 of Bonnars victories have come by submission, with 2 by knockout and 2 by decision. He holds victories over Keith Jardine and James Irvin.



James “The Sandman” Irvin (14-4-1 Overall, 3-4 in the UFC)

Former WEC Heavyweight Champion

Last Fight:        UFC Fight Night 13 (04/02/08) Houston Alexander

Next Fight:       - none officially announced –

- Irvin’s last win over Alexander tied him for the fastest knockout ever in the UFC with only 8 seconds. Irvin was scheduled to face Rashad Evans at UFC 85 but a foot injury in training benched him. He goes out to finish or be finished as all of his 14 wins have either been by knockout or submission with only 1 decision. He has victories over Alexander, Terry Martin, Scott Smith and Doug Marshall.


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