Top 10 Light Heavyweights in the UFC
Here are my current Top 10 UFC Light Heavyweight rankings. Jon Jones (suspension) and Rashad Evans (Inactivity over 18 months) are excluded from these rankings. I still struggle with placing Shogun and Minotoro in the Top 10, but Manuwa has done little to prove himself in order to take their spot. Hopefully, the UFC will start signing and elevating new talent into the division because the roster of fighters in the 205 lbs. division is severely lacking compared to others.
For the time being, Cormier is the Light Heavyweight champion until Jon Jones returns. Cormier will likely never be viewed as the true champion until he defeats Jones, but he is gaining valuable experience preparing himself for 5-round title fights against the division’s elite. Should Jones return and defeat Cormier again, I would not be surprised to see Cormier return to Heavyweight as long as Cain Velasquez is not the champion.
Anthony Johnson’s out of the cage actions have overshadowed his career as of late. Johnson is still a top talent that has truly become one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport. Johnson’s conditioning is still his biggest question mark. Although his weight issues seem to be under control, one has to wonder if he ever will truly take the right steps to controlling his conditioning issues.
Alexander Gustafsson has a lot to prove as much of his current Top 5 status is based off his title loss to Jon Jones two years ago. Gustafsson still has all the potential in the world to be a future champion, and at just 28 years old, has time on his side to figure it out. Fans are still clamoring for a Jones-Gustafsson rematch, so even should Gustafsson lose to Cormier, he’s likely just one big win away from fighting Jones once he returns from suspension.
Ryan Bader is on a 4-fight winning streak and is likely on the verge of fighting for his first title. Bader has fallen short in his fair share of high profile fights, but he seemed to turn the corner with his last 2 wins over Phil Davis and OSP.
Glover Teixeira bounced back from consecutive defeats to save his Top 5 status. Glover is 3-0 against fighters currently active in the UFC’s Top 10. Cormier will need new challengers, and Glover seems to be the next man up after the Bader/Evans winner.
OSP has been one of the true breakout stars in the Light Heavyweight division. He came back to earth a bit following losses to Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira, but the potential is still there to eventually fight for a title. OSP has still resisted attempts at training at one of the bigger camps that has produced a champion. He has obviously defied the odds to get where he is today, but the time may come where for him to take the next step in his career he may have to venture over to ATT, Jackson’s, or AKA.
Rampage is back in the UFC, but his immediate career looks to be on ice as he is locked in a bitter battle between the UFC and Bellator. Jackson’s career was revitalized in his brief run with Bellator. Jackson has made it no secret that he did not like the UFC’s matchmaking practices of placing him against wrestlers. Fresh matchups against Anthony Johnson or Alexander Gustafsson could thrust Rampage back in the title picture, but that all hinges on him getting the green light to compete again.
Rua got back in the winning column, but signs are still not trending towards Shogun reclaiming his place amongst the top of the Light Heavyweight division. Shogun has reunited with Rafael Cordeiro, but his years of wars and injuries have left him a shell of his former self. Shogun is still capable of winning fights outside the Top 3 of the division, but it will be a tall task at this stage in his career.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s UFC run has been a bag of mixed results. Evidenced by his .500 record (4-4) in the UFC, Nogueira’s days of ever challenging for a title are likely finished. With an extremely thin LHW division, Nogueira still has relevancy and the likelihood to still be involved in high profile fights.
Patrick Cummins’ improbable rise in the UFC should prove to be inspiration for any prospect grinding away on the independent circuit. Cummins has fallen short against Cormier and OSP, but his wrestling has thus far earned him 4 wins in the UFC. Cummins still lacks elite finishing skills and his lack of striking can also come back to haunt him if he cannot ground his opponents early. Nonetheless, with an aging Top 10, Cummins has the chance to work his way into Top consideration should he win his next couple of fights.
On the bubble: Jimi Manuwa (15-2, 4-2), Fabio Maldonado (22-8, 5-5), Tom Lawlor (10-5, 6-4), Gian Villante (13-6, 3-3), Corey Anderson (6-1, 3-1)
Photo credit: www.sherdog.com/Dave Mandel