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411 MMA Rankings 03.26.13: Light Heavyweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 03.26.2013





Welcome to the home of the 411 MMA Rankings, where each Tuesday, a compiled list of the best 15 fighters in a particular division are posted for your amusement. Today, we check in on the light heavyweight division which happens to be smack in the middle of its busy season.

UFC champion Jon Jones is four weeks away from what will be his fifth title defense when he fights Chael Sonnen. Perhaps more important, muggers in Newark should be on the lookout for the 6'4 beast more than two years after he helped subdue one such criminal on the streets of Jersey. Based on Sonnen's performance on April 27 will dictate whether he returns to our rankings as a light heavyweight or if he's long gone figuratively and literally as a main event fighter.

Speaking of main events, April 6 in Sweden marks a potentially key fight in the division as Alex Gustafsson welcomes Gegard Mousasi to the UFC with his own hopes of challenging Jon Jones at stake. Mousasi will compete not to be a repeat of Hector Lombard, who's lackluster run in the company leaves plenty to be desired.

Others vying for the next UFC title fight include Lyoto Machida (who spent February sticking and moving against Dan Henderson, and winning) and not to be easily dismissed, heavyweight Daniel Cormier. Of course, Cormier first must stop Frank Mir on FOX next month before he pulls the trigger on a weight cut down to 205-pounds, but keep him in mind as we enter April.

Finally, how about Bellator's 205 division so far this year, between their ongoing tournament to crown a new contender and a their recently crowned new champion. In the tournament, a field that included poster boy "King Mo" Muhammed Lawal has been trimmed to Emanuel Newton and Mikhail Zayats. Yes, despite marketing the whole season around Lawal, he was abruptly knocked out in the semifinals by Newton and is back to training. As a matter of fact, Newton and Zayats will have their $100,000 fight in 48 hours at the University of South Florida.

The winner will take on new champion Attila Vegh following his win against Christian M'Pumbu. Despite holding title for 21 months, the Frenchman was never able to successfully defend it. He went 3-0 to become champion but is 0-2 since then, ironically (a non-title loss to Travis Wiuff from 2011 is in the mix). Vegh now has a nine-fight winning streak across Europe and the United States and we'll get to see whether a Bellator light heavyweight champion can even win a fight, later this year.


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RANKINGS FROM ONE YEAR AGO
(02.21.12)


1. Jon Jones

2. Dan Henderson

3. Rashad Evans

4. Shogun Rua

5. Rampage Jackson

6. Lyoto Machida

7. Phil Davis

8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

9. Gegard Mousasi

10. Alexander Gustafsson

11. Forrest Griffin

12. Rafael Cavalcante

13. Ryan Bader

14. Stanislav Nedkov

15. Vladimir Matyushenko







411's MMA Ranking Rules

- Which fighters are eligible for these rankings? They must meet the following qualifications: fight at least once in the past 365 days or if they have not, be officially scheduled for an upcoming fight.

- A fighter serving a disciplinary suspension will not be ranked. They can return when they have served their suspension or in the event it is rescinded. This includes fighters who may disregard their suspension locally to fight overseas.

- If a fighter appears on just one single ballot, and in the top ten, five points will be deducted to balance between other fighters who may be ranked lower, but appear on a greater amount of ballots.

- Want to complain about a fighter's ranking in the comments section? Please include an objective reason why you despise the list, and try your best to bring the rest of us to your way of thinking.






411's Official MMA Rankings: Light Heavyweight Division


Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs)





1) Jon "Bones" Jones (17-1)


Height: 6'4

Birthday: July 19, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Vitor Belfort - Win via submission (americana) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Rashad Evans - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans - April 21, 2012

- vs. Lyoto Machida - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida - December 10, 2011

- vs. Quinton Jackson - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage - September 24, 2011

- vs. Shogun Rua - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 128: Shogun vs. Bones - March 19, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Chael Sonnen - UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen - April 27, 2013

Comment: 32 days away we are from what should be a hell of a dominant performance from Jon Jones, no? After all, Chael Sonnen's only means of attack appear to be storming forward and securing takedowns and there doesn't appear to be much of a chance he'll succeed against the champ there. If that's indeed how the fight develops, it won't be much different than other light heavyweight title fights with the lone exception of Vitor Belfort's near successful armbar.




2) Lyoto Machida (19-3)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: May 3, 1978

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Dan Henderson - Win via decision (split) - UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche - February 23, 2013

- vs. Ryan Bader - Win via KO (punch) - UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera - August 4, 2012

- vs. Jon Jones - Loss via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida - December 10, 2011

- vs. Randy Couture - Win via KO (KICK) - UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields - April 29, 2011

- vs. Quinton Jackson - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida - November 20, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Machida fought safely against Dan Henderson, staying away from the explosive overhand right hand and earned himself a decision win in the process. With the victory, he appears to be in the catbird seat waiting for a rematch with Jones, although there may be plenty of events to interfere with that plan. For one, the possibility remains Jones may fight Anderson Silva in a super fight in the fall, or Alexander Gustafsson could be named the new contender if he's successful in a couple of weeks.




3) Alexander Gustafsson (15-1)


Height: 6'5

Birthday: January 15, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

vs. Shogun Rua - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz - December 8, 2012

- vs. Thiago Silva - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Gustafsson vs. Silva - April 14, 2012

- vs. Vladimir Matyushenko - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem - December 30, 2011

- vs. Matt Hamill - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz - August 6, 2011

- vs. James Te-Huna - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 127: Fitch vs. Penn - February 27, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Gegard Mousasi - UFC on Fuel: Gustafsson vs. Mousasi - April 6, 2013

Comment: The UFC's most famous Swede returns to his country in less than two weeks, looking for his seventh consecutive win. Unless Jones does go the super fight route, I know I'd much rather see him earn the title fight next, but whether UFC brass agrees remains to be seen. Of course, there's no guarantee he'll even be able to hand Gegard Mousasi a loss in the former Strikeforce champion's debut.




4) Dan Henderson (29-9)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: August 24, 1970

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Lyoto Machida - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche - February 23, 2013

- vs. Shogun Rua - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson - November 19, 2011

- vs. Fedor Emelianenko - Win via TKO (strikes) - Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson - July 30, 2011

- vs. Rafael Feijao Cavalcante - Win via TKO (punches) - Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson - March 5, 2011

- vs. Babalu Sobral - Win via KO (punches) - Strikeforce: St. Louis - December 4, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Rashad Evans - UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland - June 15, 2013

Comment: Hendo was upset with how his UFC 157 turned out, feeling Machida was not aggressive and didn't deserve the win. In fact, he believed Lyoto spent more time running away than engaging, which is not exactly a blatant lie. With his title fight thrown out the window, he'll now have to avoid his first losing streak since losses to Rampage Jackson and Anderson Silva in 2007 and 2008. Up next is an intriguing match-up against former champion Rashad Evans, who may be at a crossroads in his career, in Calgary.




5) Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: June 2, 1976

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Rashad Evans - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

- vs. Tito Ortiz - Win via TKO (body strikes) - UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida - December 10, 2011

- vs. Phil Davis - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis - March 26, 2011

- vs. Ryan Bader - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 119: Mir vs. Cro Cop - September 25, 2010

- vs. Jason Brilz - Win via decision (split) - UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans - May 29, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Shogun Rua - UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland - June 15, 2013

Comment: By the time Lil Nog steps back in the octagon, he'll be 37-years-old and he'll look to avenge a 2005 decision loss to Shogun Rua at Pride Critical Countdown 2005. Almost eight years to the day later, their careers have ended up on opposite spectrums with Nogueira now contending for a title fight while Rua has been trading wins and losses for over three years.




6) Rashad Evans (17-3-1)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: September 25, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar - February 2, 2013

- vs. Jon Jones - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans - April 21, 2012

- vs. Phil Davis - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox 2: Evans vs. Davis - January 28, 2012

- vs. Tito Ortiz - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz - August 6, 2011

- vs. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans - May 29, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Dan Henderson - UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland - June 15, 2013

Comment: Evans talks like a man who knows the end may be creeping up on him. After a rough loss last month, he wants to avoid the first losing streak of his career at all costs. He doesn't appear to be willing to walk off into the sunset as a fighter just yet and he'll have a large test in front of him in June. Rashad could look to box with Dan Henderson or he may try to test his takedowns as he eventually did against Thiago Silva, Quinton Jackson and Phil Davis. Either way, someone's flying back to the United States with a pair of losses in their last two fights.




7) Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (21-7)


Birthday: November 25, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

vs. Alexander Gustafsson - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz - December 8, 2012

- vs. Brandon Vera - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera - August 4, 2012

- vs. Dan Henderson - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson - November 19, 2011

- vs. Forrest Griffin - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami - August 27, 2011

- vs. Jon Jones - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC 128: Shogun vs. Bones - March 19, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira - UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland - June 15, 2013

Comment: Will Shogun's name continue to be used to promote others up the UFC ladder? The last three to do so include Jon Jones, Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson and now Rogerio Nogueira will look to do the same. Plus, if he should lose again, he'l be 3-5 in his last eight fights with plenty of injuries thrown into the equation. Not even 32-years-old yet, are we closer to the end of Shogun's historic fighting career than we may imagine?




8) Phil Davis (10-1, 1 No Contest)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: September 25, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Wagner Prado - Win via submission (anaconda choke) - UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar - October 13, 2012

- vs. Wagner Prado - No Contest (eye poke) - UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera - August 4, 2012

- vs. Rashad Evans - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox 2: Evans vs. Davis - January 28, 2012

- vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis - March 26, 2011

- vs. Tim Boetsch - Win via submission (Kimura) - UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida - November 20, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Vinny Magalhaes - UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen - April 27, 2013

Comment: Davis has been a sort of lost soul of late because he's coming off the two fights with Wagner Prado after losing decisively to Rashad Evans. However, he can get back on track in Newark next month fighting submission ace Vinny Magalhaes and all the momentum he brings into their fight.




9) Glover Teixeira (20-2)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: October 28, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

vs. Quinton Jackson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox 6: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

- vs. Fabio Maldonado - Win via TKO (many, many strikes) - UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar - October 13, 2012

- vs. Kyle Kingsbury - Win via submission (arm-triangle choke) - UFC 146: dos Santos vs. Mir - May 26, 2012

- vs. Ricco Rodriguez - Win via submission (strikes) - MMA Against Dengue - November 27, 2011

- vs. Marvin Eastman - Win via KO (punch) - Shooto Brazil Fight for BOPE - August 25, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. James Te-Huna - UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Big Foot 2 - May 25, 2013

Comment: Original opponent Ryan Bader pulled out with an injury and now Teixeira will clash with slugger James Te-Huna in a match that has epic brawl written all over it.




10) Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2)


Height: 6'0

Birthday: August 1, 1985

Currently Fighting With: Strikeforce

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Mike Kyle - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine - January 12, 2013

- vs. Ovince St. Preux - Win via decision (unanimous) - Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal - December 17, 2011

- vs. Hiroshi Izumi - Win via TKO (strikes) - DREAM 17 - July 16, 2011

- vs. Keith Jardine - Draw (majority) - Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley - April 9, 2011

- vs. Tatsuya Mizuno - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - DREAM 16 - September 25, 2010

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Alexander Gustafsson - UFC on Fuel: Gustafsson vs. Mousasi - April 6, 2013

Comment: The UFC debut for one of the most talented fighters in the world is just about here with former Strikeforce and Dream champion Gegard Mousasi putting the final touches on his training camp for Alex Gustafsson. What makes this bout all the more interesting is the fact that Mousasi has not fought a top 10 fighter since he knocked out middleweight Jacare Souza in 2008.




11) Ryan Bader (15-3)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: June 7, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Vladimir Matyushenko - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson - January 26, 2013

- vs. Lyoto Machida - Loss via KO (punch) - UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera - August 4, 2012

- vs. Quinton Jackson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - February 26, 2012

- vs. Jason Brilz - Win via KO (punch) - UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson - November 19, 2011

- vs. Tito Ortiz - Loss via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC 132: Cruz vs. Bader - July 2, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown




12) James Te-Huna (16-5)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: September 29, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Ryan Jimmo - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. MacDonald - February 16, 2013

- vs. Joey Beltran - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fuel: Munoz vs. Weidman - July 11, 2012

- vs. Aaron Rosa - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC on FX: Alves vs. Kampmann - March 3, 2012

- vs. Ricardo Romero - Win via KO (punches) - UFC 135: Bones vs. Rampage - September 24, 2011

- vs. Alexander Gustafsson - Loss via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch - February 27, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Glover Teixeira - UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Big Foot 2 - May 25, 2013




13) Vinny Magalhaes (10-5, 1 NC)


Height: 6'3

Birthday: July 2, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Igor Pokrajac - Win via submission (armbar) - UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort - September 22, 2012

- vs. Mikhail Zayats - Win via TKO (head kick and punches) - M-1 Challenge 27: Magalhaes vs. Zayats - October 14, 2011

- vs. Viktor Nemkov - Win via submission (mounted gogoplata) - M-1 Challenge 25: Zavurov vs. Enomoto - April 28, 2011

- vs. Jake Doerr - Win via TKO (strikes) - M-1 Challenge 24: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa - March 25, 2011

- vs. Robert Scott - Win via submission (armbar) - MMA Xplosion: International Team Challenge - January 29, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Phil Davis - UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen - April 27, 2013

Comment: Magalhaes has the opportunity to knock off a legitimate top 10 light heavyweight and make a statement in the UFC, something he has yet to do in his career. No pressure...




14) Attila Vegh (29-4-2)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: August 9, 1985

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Christian M'Pumbu - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 91 - February 28, 2013

- vs. Travis Wiuff - Win via KO (strikes) - Bellator 73 - August 24, 2012

- vs. Emanuel Newton - Win via decision (split) - Bellator 72 - July 20, 2012

- vs. Zelg Galesic - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 71 - June 22, 2012

- vs. Dan Spohn - Win via decision (split) - Bellator 66 - April 20, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Emanuel Newton or Mikhail Zayats - Bellator - TBA

Comment: The NEW Bellator champion beat M'Pumbu over five rounds and left no doubt in the minds of judges. The Slovakian fighter took five years since turning professional to win his first championship and he'll have a stout test in his first defense, no matter who it may be.




15) "The Hardcore Kid" Emanuel Newton (20-7-1)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: January 2, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Bellator Fighting Championships

Last 5 fights:

- vs. King Mo Lawal - Win via KO (spinning backfist) - Bellator 90 - February 21, 2013

- vs. Atanas Djambazov - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 85 - January 17, 2013

- vs. Attila Vegh - Loss via decision (split) - Bellator 72 - July 20, 2012

- vs. Roy Boughton - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Bellator 71 - June 22, 2012

- vs. James McSweeney - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - Superior Cage Combat 3 - November 4, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Mikhail Zayats - Bellator 94 - March 28, 2013

Comment: UPSET! Newton scored the biggest upset of the year so far with his spinning backfist knockout against King Mo last month. He will fight in the season eight tournament finals this Thursday night and he'll have to beat Mikhail Zayats to get the opportunity to avenge a previous loss to Vegh.




Final Notes: Quinton Jackson received an honorable mention.


Rafael Cavalcante and Thiago Silva are each ineligible due to their respective suspensions stemming from positive drug tests. Each man will be eligible again when those suspensions expire (April 10, 2013 for Thiago and May 19, 2013 for Rafael).






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