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Sunday, June 28, 2009

MMA Light Heavyweight Ranking

The light heavyweight division’s title won’t be up for grabs at UFC 100 in a few weeks, but there is a rumored fight for the title at UFC 104 in October 2009 between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and current champ Lyoto Machida.

While many fans wanted to see Quinton “Rampage” Jackson take a few swings at “The Dragon,” he will instead take on Rashad Evans in a grudge match after coaching Kimbo Slice and other heavyweights on The Ultimate Fighter TV show this fall.

So where does that leave the UFC’s most stacked division? Read on to find out who’s the best of the best right now in the league:

1. Lyoto Machida (15-0)

It was pretty much assumed that Machida would defend the light heavyweight title for a long time but the Shogun matchup seems to have many analysts and fans intrigued. Machida would be the favorite in that matchup, however, and he has the ability to make a run at the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world if he keeps winning.

2. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (30-7)-

His match with Keith Jardine at UFC 96 was a bit needlessly close and many feel he will need to work on some of his flaws in order to beat Machida some day. But Jackson is still diversifying his game with the Wolf’s Lair training camp in England and still is one of the most powerful and intimidating fighters the UFC’s ever seen.

3. Rashad Evans (13-1-1)-

There’s no shame in losing to Machida but Evans seemed totally outclassed. He’ll be the underdog going into the Rampage Jackson fight but Evans’ smarts and knockout power shouldn’t be underestimated in that fight.

4. Forrest Griffin (16-5)-

With a fair size advantage and his heart and all-around skills, Griffin could make things very interesting against living legend Anderson Silva at UFC 101 in Philadelphia. He will make Silva earn the victory this time around, that’s for sure, and you can’t say that about Silva’s last opponent Thales Leites.

5. Shogun Rua (18-3)-

Is his easy victory over Chuck Liddell enough proof that Shogun is back among the division’s elite? Possibly. If he can at least survive five rounds against Machida in their rumored upcoming fight and maybe do what no one else in the UFC has done and actually win a round, that would be proof enough.

Up-and-comer to watch: Jon Jones (8-0)

Jones is still raw in a lot of ways but he is a creative striker and an explosive wrestler who made a win over UFC vet Stephan Bonnar look easy in his last fight. If he tightens up his striking and jiu-jitsu game and improves his cardio, he will shoot up in the UFC light heavyweight rankings.

Former Ultimate Fighter Ryan Bader is another one to watch in this weight class.

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