Top 10 Light Heavyweight Rankings

nullAfter having released my pound-for-pound and heavyweight top 10 rankings, it is time to unveil my first light heavyweight top 10 list.

1. Jon Jones (13-1): Jones is the easy pick as he has destroyed everyone in his path on his way to the UFC championship. Media pundits are quick to label Jones as an unstoppable champion, but those same words were spoken about Lyoto Machida two years ago. Jones has been unbelievable thus far, but we have still yet to see him overcome adversity in the octagon.

2. Rashad Evans (15-1-1): I put Evans in my No. 2 spot as he has just one loss in his career. It was an embarrassing loss to Machida, but I think it was more due to a poor game plan as opposed to the lack of skills to beat him. Evans has quickness with his hands and feet and has a sturdy base with great wrestling ability. He is a hard opponent to game plan for and really his only weakness may be his confidence in his hands. He is next in line to try to figure out the Jones puzzle and reclaim his spot on top of the division.

3. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (31-8): Rampage has been a hard guy to figure out over the last few years. He seems to be suffering slightly from the evolution of MMA into more of a wrestling style. His grappling skills cost him a decision to Evans and were still lacking in his win over Machida. Jackson still has arguably the most powerful hands in the division and his aggressive nature makes him difficult for anyone. Rampage takes on another wrestler next in Matt Hamill at UFC 130, and a win could put him in line for a title shot.

4. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-5): Despite being the guy that dethroned Machida, I still haven’t seen anything real special from Rua in his time at the UFC. He has certainly not been the guy that fought his way to the PRIDE championship. Rua has really struggled with his conditioning in the octagon, and that was a big problem in his loss to Jones. Rua’s edge on Machida may be more about fighting style than talent.

5. Lyoto Machida (16-2): Machida had started to become a victim of his own style. His loss to Jackson was a close call, but it is because he refuses to move forward and attack. His counter-striking is second to none, but opponents are refusing to fight his style anymore. Machida must evolve with the sport and look to sharpen his game if he hopes to get back to the UFC title. His next fight is with Hall of Famer Randy Couture, who will certainly bring the fight, which plays into Machida’s hands.

6. Phil Davis (9-0): Perhaps a little high in my rankings, I see a lot of potential in Davis, who has just nine pro fights in his career. At 26, he picked up his biggest win to date by beating Antonio Rogerio Nogueira last month. Davis has also shown some impressive submission skills and he continues to progress with his striking. Up next for “Mr. Wonderful” should be a top-10 opponent to see just where he ranks.

7. Ryan Bader (12-1): We shouldn’t judge Bader too harshly for his poor showing against Jon Jones. After all, everyone has looked bad against Jones. Bader is still one of the promising light heavyweights in all of MMA and his wrestling background will be tough for most strikers to stop. If Bader can develop better technique to his boxing, he can become a real force in the division.

8. Forrest Griffin (18-6): The fan favorite of the light heavyweight division comes in at No. 8 for my list. Griffin is a tough guy but he lacks one area of real expertise. His striking is technically sound, but he lacks a lot of power. His wrestling is good, but not great. His submission skills are under rated, but he doesn’t often showcase them. Griffin’s scrappiness allowed him to win the UFC title, but the days of him wearing the gold are long gone and unless he develops some new skills, I don’t see Forrest climbing much higher on this list.

9. Dan Henderson (27-8): Perhaps it is his legacy that allows him to make my list, because Henderson appears to be on the downside of his career. He still has great power in his hands and a great wrestling background, but he is a step slower and a little bit weaker than he used to be. While he has found success in Strikeforce (outside of a loss to Jake Shields in his debut), he isn’t facing the best talent. There appears to be plans for a super fight between he and Fedor Emelinanenko this summer, which will be a good draw. But that is a fight that had much more appeal five years ago than it does today.

10. Matt Hamill (10-2): Matt Hamill is kind of that “oh yeah” guy that you can forget about completely. He has quietly amassed an impressive record and beaten the likes of Tito Ortiz, Keith Jardine, and Mark Munoz. He also technically has a win over Jon Jones, but I don’t think he will ever brag about a DQ victory where he was a bloody mess. Hamill has a solid wrestling game and he has been improving his striking, working in a nice jab to mix in with his takedown attempts. I think he can give Rampage some trouble at UFC 130, but it will be a big test of his nerves. If Hamill is able to pull of the upset, he has to be considered one of the top contenders to Jones’ title.

  

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