To start, I hope everyone is as excited as I am in the news that we will NOT have to evacuate due to Hurricane Ike. It’s looking like he’s heading toward south Texas, so as well as being relieved myself, my prayers now go out to everyone in that region who is about to deal with what we’re still dealing with here.

Now… on to the topic at hand.

Today I’m going cover solely the status of the UFC’s light-heavyweight division, which is going to be VERY INTERESTING for the next few months.

The UFC Light-Heavyweight Division

So coming off of this weekend’s victories by Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin, and Dan Henderson, the UFC’s LHW picture is a bit different than predicted.

Most were expecting a Liddell victory over Evans to set up a Griffin-Liddell championship fight, but Evans didn’t seem to like those plans too much, and instead snuck into Chuck’s spot.

Also, Rich Franklin moved back up to 205 and had a very dominating showing in a win over Matt Hamill, as well as a victory for Dan Henderson over Rousimar Palhares while moving back down to 185 lb.

These all factor into what’s becoming the most interesting weight class in the UFC. Let’s look at the top 10.

  1. CHAMPION: Forrest Griffin (16-4; 7-2 in the UFC)
  2. Rashad Evans (17-0-1; 7-0 in the UFC)
  3. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (28-7; 3-1 in the UFC)
  4. Lyoto Machida (13-0; 5-0 in the UFC)
  5. Wanderlei Silva (32-8-1, 1 NC; 2-3 in the UFC)
  6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (16-3, 0-1 in the UFC)
  7. Chuck Liddell (21-6; 16-5 in the UFC)
  8. Rich Franklin (16-3; 8-2 in the UFC)
  9. Keith Jardine (13-4-1, 5-3 in the UFC)
  10. Anderson Silva (22-4; 7-0 in the UFC)

Now, before I get started, I know there are some guys you may on your list higher/lower than mine, as well as a guy I may have omitted. Understand this is purely my opinion and my decision made after seeing the fights I have.

Let’s start with the fights that have already been scheduled.

Evans (2) has earned himself a title shot against Griffin with his KO victory of Liddell, and that fight is expected to take place at the December UFC pay-per-view. Most would argue that Quinton Jackson (3) deserved an immediate re-match with Griffin, but I’ll have to say I’m against that notion.

For starters, despite what some think, Griffin won that fight without dispute. He clearly controlled the fight over Jackson, scoring points striking, on takedowns, and controlled the octagon. Also, Liddell did not receive an immediate re-match after his loss to Jackson, so I think nothing warrants Jackson an immediate re-match. Also, Jackson’s recent legal troubles did not help his situation as his future in MMA as a sport was/is in limbo with his legal situation not resolved yet.

Lyoto Machida (4) is considered by some to have been next in line for a shot following his victory over Tito Ortiz, but I’ll also have to disagree on that. While both he and Evans both have undefeated records, Evans holds the KO victory over Liddell, and many people have a problem with Machida’s fighting style, claiming he does as little as possible to win, while some see it as smart, technical counter-striking. Regardless of style, he’s still 13-0, and that puts him in line for a title shot within a year as long as he wins his next fight.

Next up at the middle mark, I have Wanderlei Silva (5) standing as the man fighting for a shot, but also keeping others from getting their own shot. Why Wandy you ask? Well, if you look on paper, he doesn’t even break .500 in the UFC. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that 3 of those fights took place over 8 years ago, so it’s safe to say we can go with his more recent record, with has him 1-1 with a loss to Chuck Liddell and a devastating KO victory over Keith Jardine (9). Jardine was poised to be higher on this list, possibly even at the #5 spot with wins over Chuck Liddell and current champion Forrest Griffin, but losses to Houston Alexander, whose proving that he might not even be UFC worthy, and Wanderlei Silva knock him back near the bottom.

I don’t have much to say about “Shogun” Rua (6) because frankly, I’ve only seen him fight once, and he got worked over and then submitted by a guy who supposedly “wasn’t ready for him” in Forrest Griffin. The Griffin fight was his last fight and that was a year ago. Recent comments from Rua have him stating that he would like to be the 1st to beat Rashad Evans, but I neither want to see nor believe Rua deserves that fight. He needs a win in the Octagon before I see him fighting anyone in the top 3. I would personally have him at #10 maybe even off the Top 10 altogether, but talking with experts in the sport, they assure me he’s the real deal. We’ll see.

You can’t deny talent or history and for that matter, I STILL have Chuck Liddell (7) in my Top 10. To be honest, the guy’s a former light-heavyweight champion, and despite losing in horrendous fashion a few days ago, he’s still got KO power, still moves well, and could take out any one of the other guys on this countdown on any given day. It’s the beauty of the sport. Chuck’s next fight should be the true decision maker for him. A win and he continues to chase the title one last time. Another loss? Well, then he ought to just get that retirement/Hall of Fame inductee speed ready.

Now the only two guys I haven’t mentioned yet are real enigmas in this situation. Rich Franklin (8) is the number one contender for the 185 lb title. Problem is, he can’t beat the 185 lb. champion Anderson Silva (10), who also makes our light-heavyweight list with his recent movie-like knockout victory over James Irvin, fighting at 205 lbs. For Franklin, it’s got to seem like a walking nightmare, with his biggest obstacle Silva following him up to 205, but luckily for him, Silva has already stated he is going to defend his 185 lb. title, as well as fight a super-fight against GSP.

For Franklin, the 205 lb. division makes sense. The transition back to 205 lb. was pretty seemless for him, and with another quality win at 205, he’s easily in the hunt for a title shot. The fight I’d like to see is Franklin vs. Machida, which I think would be a great match-up for Franklin.

I confidently put Anderson Silva at #10 in our countdown because frankly, while he could probably he higher, he’s staying at 185 lb. so I can’t rule him out, but I can’t move him up either.

Also, rumors have been stirring that Rampage may get a fight on the November pay-per-view, but it would not be a re-match with Forrest Griffin, instead a 3rd fight against Wanderlei Silva. Silva holds two crushing victories over Jackson when they were both fighting in Pride. A win over Silva could solidify that Jackson hasn’t lost his edge at all despite recent events, but a win for Silva could catapult him into the immediate title picture as most think Jackson is next in line behind Evans for a title shot.

So with everything stated considered, the match-up’s I’d like to see are:

Griffin v. Evans for the Title (confirmed)

Jackson v. W. Silva (rumored HEAVILY)

Franklin v. Machida

Rua v. Jardine.

and… the best for last.

Liddell vs…… Anderson Silva.

Chuck wants the Silva fight and I don’t blame him. In the immediate future, there is no one in that top tier that is open for a fight (Griffin, Evans, Jackson, Wandy) and the open guys would benefit from fighting other fights (Franklin v. Machida, Rua v. Jardine). I mean, imagine if Chuck Liddell does the unexpected and not only beats Silva, but KO’s him? It would throw Chuck straight to THE TOP of the Light-Heavyweight Division.

As far as Silva goes, the only fight really worth considering with him that’s even on the radar right now is  a Dan Henderson re-match, but I see that one going the same way the 1st one went, maybe quicker. And until the B.J. Penn v. GSP superfight takes place, we can’t even consider a GSP v. Silva fight, so what better way than to market the best fighter on the planet than by matching him with the best KNOWN fighter on the planet.

Alot to think about, I guess we’ll see how the rest of the year unfolds.

Well, that’s all for today.

Next time, Couture vs. Lesnar.