State of the Light Heavyweights

State of the Divisions: Part II.

The Light-Heavyweights

First off, let me announce that we are going to be doing our pick’em shows a bit differently, with the massive expansion of the MMA roster of the UFC, I personally just do not have the time to go in a research the 2-3 debuting fighters on each show, especially when there is going to be a half dozen guys cut after every card as well, I’m sure guys like Joao can, but to be honest, I still love my NFL, NBA and the unpaid minor leagues, not to mention the fact that there are a half dozen minor league MMA promotions a quick drive from my house.

So what we have come up with is we are splitting up the divisions, each writer will take a division or two to concentrate on and hopefully be more of an expert on, as we are unpaid (for now) its not exactly right to expect Collin to spend his weekends watching 15 hours straight of the Smashes season II for a roundtable, while Joao has been watching the show weekly as it came on. Hopefully going forward if you have a question about some 12-1 185er that is coming to the UFC, Roni has seen him fight once or twice on Youtube, and we can all look to him for expert opinion.

I am going to be taking on the Heavyweights and the Light Heavyweights, since those two don’t have a ton of fights right now in the UFC. I also come from a boxing background, so the big guys are the ones I like. Since no one had any objections. MINE!

What I plan on doing is giving a bit of a breakdown of where I see the Divisions and where they might be going in the future. Let me also state this is not a RANKING of the divisions, in a world where Sonnen got back to back title shots in two divisions, Diaz get a shot over Hendricks, Fitch looked like he was going to have to win 20 fights to get a rematch, its obvious that Frank Mir will get another title shot before Barnett, no matter where they are ranked.

So with the New Year- Lets get to the January Status!

Heavyweights

Next up, lets look at the Light Heavyweights: The 205 division is one of the most interesting, with a SERIOUS Strata, as I’ll go into, there is a pretty steep drop between the levels, and to be honest, Sonnen has only made it worse, taking out Jones for a half year.

Champion: sonnen vs jones

Jon Jones
Jones has a major problem, he likes to fight so much that he has almost legitamately cleared out the division, and there is simply not anyone coming into the promotion that he could fight. The  only man left, almost literally, is Hendo. Hendo got hurt, no one else wanted the fight, so he gets stuck with Sonnen. Since for some odd reason, he didn’t want to fight Sonnen, he gets put on TUF, and goes on the shelf for a bit. Normally thats a great thing for a divsion (See GSP-WW division) but in this case? Not really, the only two guys that have come along are both raw and not really draws. Jones is going to get stuck looking at Heavyweights sooner than Greg Jackson wants to, if he’s not careful.

Up Next
Chael Sonnen.
Ok, so coming off a loss, you tick off the Champion, and since you sell PV tickets more than anyone else in the division, you get an undeserved title shot.
But enough about Nick Diaz. Sonnen has done everything Dana has asked him to do other than win a title. TUF needs a draw, and Jones needs a foil to gain more fans. Sonnen can do that. Is he a threat to Jones? Only if Jones shows poor balance on a sprawl or Sonnen puts some major mass on his legs to power the thinner man over. Lets keep in mind Sonnen can draw on Hendo and Randy, two of the smartest wresters to ever enter the cage. That has to help. Is he going to win? No. Are you going to watch? Yes.

Next level

Rashad Evans
Welcome to Fitchland. Rashad looked like poo vs Jones, but then again, he lasted all 25 (dull) minutes. The Problem is, he looked boring vs Phil Davis, too. Evans should have been screaming to get the shot at UFC 151. He needs to get a dominant STOPPAGE or move to 185, no one wants to fight him because he’s too good, and he’s too popular to ignore. He needs to get mad at someone and start calling people out. I understand he wants a microphone job in the next few years, but Ken-Flo called out BJ for a year and didn’t tick off the fans.

HENDO
Dan can whine all he wants about Sonnen, but if he’s opening a trash-talk school, he needs to enroll, not teach. He is the last guy left for Jones to fight, but the problem is, I HATE the Lyoto fight for him. I think he has a better chance to beat Jones than Lyoto. Bottom line, until he faces Jones, he’s going to be there for a shot.

Next Level

Lyoto Machida

Lyoto was wise to turn down the fight at UFC 151. He loses to Jones and he will NEVER get another chance, no matter how good he does. I like Machida over Hendo, but never count Hendo out of any fight.

Phil Davis
Looked Horrid vs Rashad, and not much better vs Wagner. If Mr Wonderful is going to be a star, he has to dominate one-trick guys like Wagner. Davis needs to pull a Sean Salmon on someone, or he’s going to get stuck as a gatekeeper, but to be honest, as raw as he is, that might be the best thing for his career.

Alexander Gustafsson
Guffy has a problem. He is Jones 2.0 The Problem is, Jones got to go through the Janitor, Vera, etc before getting a title shot. He had Rashad and Greg Jackson. Guffy has blown by all that, and is right there for a title shot. Sonnen, Rashad and Hendo are all in the way. He dominated Shogun, and that puts him at the top of the pile. The Question is, if he gets a title shot, should he take it? I think he’s better off facing Bader and Rampage to work on his ground game, but he may not get that chance.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Needs a win. Shogun has been in some wars, but might be more successful to hardcores than with casual fans. Rua is an excellent guy to hang out a fight from a title shot. Problem is, I just don’t think he has the speed to catch Jones. Shogun seems like he should be Hendo’s age, but he’s pretty young for the wars he’s been in.

Next Level

Gegard Mousasi

Mousasi is in a perfect postion, in addition to be ing my Podcast partner Jack’s man-crush, he not only hasn’t fought Jon Jones yet- he hasn’t fought ANYONE in the upper escholon yet. He win his UFC debut, especially in convincing fashion, and he could pull a Jake Sheilds and get a quicker title shot than maybe he should. Say he comes in, beats say Te Huna or Vera, then beats Machida, he could very easily be in the upper mix for a shot. The problem I see is Dana might use him to keep Rashad or Phil busy. I could see him losing and to either man and looking bad in the process. The other problem is Mousasi could look really bad in a few fights and easily be forgotten.

Glover Teixeira
Keep in mind that the levels are the same, I’m not stating Mousasi is above Glover, they are the same level. Glover, to me is in a PRIME spot right now. He beats Rampage on Big Fox, he jumps a level. He stomps a mudhole in the future Hall-of-Famer and he could be right up there looking at a title shot as well. I do think Glover could get a title shot by winning in convincing fashion vs Rampage, then taking out Shogun, then getting in line, of course the question becomes when will Jones be able to do this? Jones has Sonnen next, then DC is looking for him, as is the Hendo/Lyoto winner, Rashad and Guffy. There is a solid chance that if Hendo wins, he gets the next shot, if Lyoto wins, we might get 2 of these matched up. Glover could very well get to face Guffy, in a Jones/Bader situation, or he could face Rashad in a “revenge for Chuck” fight or could get to the front of the line if he has two mudhold stompings and Dana does Rashad/Lyoto II and Guffy has already had his shot. If Glover loses, he’s almost done as a title contender at his age, but can earn some good money maineventing Fuel knocking out Vera and the Janitor.

Next Level

James Te Huna
WHAM.
We just dropped. In the Heavyweights, this is NOG. See what I mean by Strata? JTH is a solid fighter, but tell me what he does better than ANYONE above him? He could be a solid gatekeeper for the upper division, and to be honest, could pick off quite a few Strikeforce guys coming over. Don’t laugh about him being this high, he’s 9-1 in his last 10, and the only loss was to Guffy.

Next Level

Ryan Bader
I like Bader, but sadly, does he win the Bellator belt? He’s got serious issues, but remains popular, but I think he’s going to take part of the Stephan Bonner role of win a few, lose a few, but more of a wrestling challange than anyone at this level.

Vladimir Matyushenko
Solid journeyman, See Bader.

Rampage Jackson

You tell him he's not on the Mount Rushmore

Not yet

Yeah, I’ve got him this low. Let me ask you a question. Who in the levels above is behind him for a title shot? If Rampage wins this weekend, is he closer than Shogun or Hendo or anyone else? Exactly, look at his last few fights, and tell me the last time he was impressive. Rampage is running on his name alone, and considering his performance vs Jones and Rashad, its going to be a LONG time before he gets close to a title shot, even if he re-signs.
I see him losing to Glover, then taking a 1-off fight vs Mo in a year or two to promote A-team. I’d love to see him in Japan with Josh Barnett as a tag-team.

Forrest Griffith
Good for him he got out of the Sonnen fight, then even better he got out of the Phil Davis fight, those are both losing fights for him, and to be honest with you, he’s also riding on his name and goodwill from Dana White. I’d love to see him face Rampage one more time, or even Wandy, since he’s moving up to 205, then go away and take Rogan’s job as backstage goofball. He could also Host TUF.

Rafael Cavalcante
Newcomer to the division, can move up quickly, almost a less unknown version of  Mosasi. He does have a loss to HENDO, but lets be honest, no crime there, even in Strikeforce.

Lil Nog
Always in the shadow of his brother, Nog has a problem getting staying on cards. He’s a valuable member of the roster, with his name value and his hands, but I wonder how far he will ever reach. I’d still rather face the lesser

Next Level

Matt Hammill
Nice fighter, but not exactly a contender at any level, 205 gatekeeper.

Wandy
Also a bit of a gatekeeper on his name, but he brings it, and is popular in the front office and with fans.

I now feel dirty having Hammill in the same sentence with Wandy

205 has a TON of guys that are far out of a title shot, you have a dozen guys that are on a 2/3 fight win streak that arn’t on PPV or even the radar yet. Stay Tuned!

Jan 19th – UFC on FX
Roger Hollett vs Wagner Prado

Jan 26th – UFC on FOX
Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira
Ryan Bader vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

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