The Light Heavyweight division is considered one of the most competitive division in all of MMA. Here are the top ten Light Heavyweights in my eyes.
No. 1 Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (19-4)
I gotta give it to the champ. Shogun had a rough start in the UFC after he lost to Forrest Griffin at UFC 76. After that match, he had to have extensive knee surgery and was out for a significant time. Once he came back from the knee surgery he had a lackluster performance against Mark Coleman, whom which Shogun TKOd in the 3rd. In his last 3 fights he has looked like the dominant Shogun we were used to seeing in Pride FC. After a controversial decision loss to Machida he was granted an automatic rematch and dominated Machida in the 2nd fight.
No. 2 Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (30-7)
Even though Rampage took more than a year off from fighting I still feel he is as good as ever. I think his hatred for Rashad Evans has pushed him to train the hardest he ever has. Rampage is easily the most powerful fighter in the Light Heavyweight division, and you can see from his slams in Pride, especially his KO slam of Ricardo Arona. Although he does not show it that often he is a very talented wrestler, a great example of that is when he held his own on the ground against olympic wrestler Dan Henderson.
No. 3 "Sugar" Rashad Evans (14-1-1)
Rashad has greatly improved his striking since winning the second season of TUF. He has proven he has KO power, and if you don't believe me just look at what he did to ol' Chuck. He has been showing off his standing game recently but the best aspect of his game is his wrestling. He was an All American wrestler for Michigan State University.
No. 4 Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida (16-1)
Lyoto is coming off of the first loss of his career after being dominated by Shogun Rua at UFC 113. Lyoto has a unique fighting style where he lunges in and out of his opponents way in a counterpunching style. Lyoto's ground game is overlooked but his submission defense is very good. Look at how deep of a triangle Tito put him in and he was able to get out. It's no doubt though that Lyotos strength is his striking.
No. 5 Randy "The Natural" Couture (18-10)
I may have him ranked higher than most but I still believe he can put a beat down on just about everyone in the division. The 46 year old puts together some of the best game plans in MMA which is one of the reasons he is still so successful at such an old age. He is great at using his wrestling to push his opponents against the cage and physically wear them down until they give up or he grinds his way to a decision. His next fight will be against former Boxing Heavyweight Champion James Toney. Expect him to either use his wrestling and put a beat down on Toney or get caught early in a fistfight and lose. My money is on him dominating Toney.
No. 6 Antonio "Minotoro" Rogerio Nogueira (18-3)
Lil' Nog has a black belt in BJJ and showed phenomenal boxing ability in his last fight against hard hitting Luiz Cane. Lil' Nog was supposed to fight Forrest Griffin at UFC 114 but Griffin had to back out due to injury. Lil Nog is only 1 or 2 wins away from a shot at the title and has a great chance of winning the belt before his career is over.
No. 7 Forrest Griffin (17-6)
Forrest hasn't impressed me since he took Rampage's belt. He was beating Rashad in the first round then Rashad turns it around and TKO'd him in the 3rd. Then he got absolutely dominated by Anderson Silva. Then he fought an old washed up Tito Ortiz and squeezed out a decision. He is still ranked top 10 because I feel he will turn this around and make another title run.
No. 8. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (7-0)
His lack of big name fights have put him low on my list. He wasn't even ranked in my eyes until he put that 5 round beat down on Gegard Mousasi. King Mo has phenomenal wrestling and demonstrated it when he basically had Mousasi on his back for 25 minutes. Right now I feel he isn't well rounded enough to be considered top 5 but he will continue to learn and should become a serious contender.
No. 9. Jon "Bones" Jones (10-1)
This kid is something special. He has not even had his 25th birthday yet and hes already put a beat down on 3 UFC vets: Vera, Hamill, and Bonnar. He should be 11-0 but was DQ'd against Hamill for illegal 12-6 elbows even though the fight should have been stopped well before Jones started throwing the elbows. Jones is a phenomenal wrestler with a wild and flashy striking game. I truly believe his ceiling is in the stratosphere and I think he has the potential to be one of the best fighters ever. If he keeps improving there's no doubt in my mind he will be one of the greats.
No. 10. Ryan "Darth" Bader (11-0)
Bader is another one of those young talented fighters in the Light Heavyweight division who has a lot of potential. Bader was a fantastic Divison 1 NCAA wrestler at Arizona State University. Bader has shown he has improved his boxing and is becoming a well rounded mixed martial artist. Bader has a way to go before he is considered one of the best fighters in the world but he is on his way.
I will be ranking every division but decided to start with the Light Heavyweights. All your feedback is encouraged.