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We've taken a look at the UFC's heavyweightlightweight and welterweight divisions. Today, we move down to what has historically been considered the UFC's marquee division: the light heavyweights. Like the heavyweight division, 205 is ruled by a title holder with an iron fist.

But there are plenty of challengers waiting in the wings and even a few interesting prospects who could make some noise over the next few years.

Let's take a look.

 

The Title Picture

Jon Jones

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Mark D. Smith/USA Today

Nate Marquardt and James Te Huna will make a piece of inauspicious history on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 43.

According to statistical wizard Mike Bohn at MMAJunkie.com, Te Huna vs. Marquardt will be the first UFC main event ever to feature two fighters coming off back-to-back losses in the promotion.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but this is probably not one the MMA bards will immortalize in song and story.

The last time we saw Te Huna he was being sacrificed at the altar of Shogun Rua, playing the role of stepping stone at a Fight Night event in Australia, so Rua could go on to lose a rematch against Dan Henderson at a Fight Night event in Brazil. Before that, he fought Glover Teixeira as an injury replacement for Ryan Bader, suffering a first-round submission loss to the eventual light heavyweight No. 1 contender.

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USA Today

We've already taken a look at the state of the UFC's welterweight and lightweight divisions. Today, we turn our eyes to the big boys in the heavyweight division.

Barring another injury, we'll see champion Cain Velasquez defend his belt one time in 2014. That is disappointing, but it's pleasing to know that the rest of the division is continuing to evolve in his absence. If Velasquez beats Fabricio Werdum later this year, he'll have a plethora of contenders waiting on him. 

Let's take a look at a few of those contenders, from those already in the title picture to the prospects who need a bit more seasoning. 

 

The Title Picture

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USA Today

Last week’s Nevada State Athletic Commission meeting didn’t quite turn out to be the star-studded circus we all expected.

Unfortunately, even this card was subject to change.

At one point, it was thought that Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva might all appear—forced to face the music for a variety of drug-related infractions. In the end, Belfort got bumped, Sonnen attended briefly via phone and only Silva showed up in person to take his medicine (pun fully intended).

Officials issued Sonnen a temporary suspension and put Silva off until later, and so the most anticipated local committee meeting in MMA history fizzled—just like the idea that any combination of this terrible trio might actually fight at UFC 175 next month.

Still, the NSAC didn’t let the occasion slip by without delivering a message.

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USA Today

The UFC's Lightweight Championship has been on ice for nearly a year due to recurring injuries suffered by champ Anthony Pettis, and it could be another year before anyone not named Gilbert Melendez earns a title shot.

But still, the division chugs along. Today, we take a look at the state of the division as a whole, from the title picture all the way down to two prospects who could make loud noise in 2015 and beyond. 

 

The Title Picture

Anthony Pettis

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AP Images

They didn't hire him for his conference calls, that’s for sure.

Scott Coker was suddenly back in our lives on Wednesday, re-emerging as one of MMA’s most influential powerbrokers after the ouster of Bellator executives Bjorn Rebney and Tim Danaher. The former Strikeforce honcho had been flying under the radar since his lame-duck UFC contract expired earlier this year, but rest assured very little has changed with him.

At least that much was clear when Coker appeared alongside Spike TV President Kevin Kay on a late afternoon media call, officially becoming Bellator’s new president and taking over the fight promotion’s day-to-day operations.

The point of the call was to announce what Coker called "Bellator 2.0," but there was a nostalgic element to it as well. We hadn’t heard much from him since he sold Strikeforce to the UFC in March 2011 for a reported $40 million bailout.

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Retired mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen was handed a temporary suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Tuesday, and a hearing will be held on a future date to determine his official punishment.

The commission hearing was streamed worldwide on UFC Fight Pass. Bleacher Report attended the meeting via conference call.

Sonnen failed a drug test for clomiphene and anastrozole. He was informed of the failed test results and the complaint against him on June 9. Both drugs are anti-estrogens that counteract the effects of performance-enhancing drugs like testosterone and help to start up the body's natural production of testosterone after the synthetic version is eliminated.

Sonnen used testosterone replacement therapy for years before the commission banned it earlier this year.

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Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today

Demetrious Johnson did it again on Saturday at UFC 174, leaving yet another highly ranked challenger choking on his exhaust fumes with astonishing ease.

This time it was Ali Bagautinov starting out game but ending the fight down 50-45 on all three scorecards. The 29-year-old Dagestani fighter came in undefeated in the Octagon and riding an 11-fight overall win streak, but by the end of 25 minutes with Johnson, he looked as helpless as the rest.

Dominance is becoming a habit for the UFC’s 27-year-old flyweight champion. Johnson's unique brand of excellence hasn't yielded monster ratings, but so far opponents have been powerless to reckon with his blend of mobility, versatility and quickness.

Johnson has been the 125-pound titlist for less than two years, and he's already cleaned out the rest of the division’s Top Five. His ability to chew up and spit out top contenders only feeds our view of the flyweight class as a work still in progress.

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Stephanie R. Sylvanie/USA Today

Georges St-Pierre's decision to walk away from the Ultimate Fighting Championship may have been met with groans from fans and from the halls of the UFC's office. But for the rest of the fighters inhabiting the division, it has been a blessing.

No longer are they faced with the prospect of slowly rising up the divisional ladder, only to be smothered and sent packing by St-Pierre's win-at-all-costs wrestling style.

Now, there's a new champion, and the division is interesting once again. More importantly, there are opportunities aplenty for new challengers to rise through the ranks.

Today, we take a look at the state of the welterweights, from the top of the heap to a prospect that could make some noise over the next 24 months.

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Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today

Demetrious Johnson was pretty close to flawless on Saturday in his destruction of Ali Bagautinov.

The champ swept Bagautinov on all three scorecards at UFC 174, looking so dominant in his fourth consecutive flyweight title defense that saying he pitched a shutout doesn’t quite do it justice. It was more like a no-hitter and closer to a perfect game.

So why did it feel like something was missing?

Johnson was partly a victim of circumstance. His unanimous-decision win (50-45 x 3) came at the tail end of an uninspired night of fights in Vancouver, Canada. The last four bouts on the pay-per-view main card went the distance, and despite a split verdict in the evening’s halfhearted heavyweight fight, none was competitive.