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411 MMA Rankings: Light Heavyweight Division
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 08.19.2014





Just when we thought we were weeks away from seeing the biggest fight of the year, the MMA gods take it away from us.

This is the 411 MMA Rankings and this week we take a peek at the light heavyweight division and the spectacular matchup we must wait another four-plus months to see -- Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier.

Jones injured his knee and ankle, underwent knee surgery and attended WWE Summerslam in Los Angeles two nights ago. Cormier is avoiding surgery (again) for his lingering knee injuries and we must be patient waiting for January 3 to roll around (consider it the MMA version of Christmas) to HOPEFULLY see the two put over four years of insults aside and finally square off inside the octagon.

Now this division is extremely top heavy when you realize besides the two men above, we have Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson while everyone else can be criticized for one thing or another. Fighters like Phil Davis or Ryan Bader have not yet proven they can take that next step in their careers and be considered elite contenders while former champion Rashad Evans is still on the shelf and on the mend from his knee injury. The top Bellator 205-pounders such as champion Emanuel Newton and Rampage Jackson are always in another light because of where they compete. While I believe Newton can legitimately be considered among the likes of Davis & Bader, others have their doubts.

Thanks to the return and quick loss suffered by Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, he was dismissed from our rankings with just one voter believing he remains at top 15 fighter. With his absence, a spot opened up and was filled by former Bellator champion Attila Vegh. What the ATT fighter has going for him is the fact he is 9-1 in his past ten fights and is 1-1 in fights against Newton (both were decided by split decisions).

Tossed in the mix near the bottom of our rankings are legends like Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua (the 2011 fight they had remains the best in the history of the sport to many) as they continue along in their careers based mostly on name value.

The point is where are the big contenders for 2016, for either the UFC or Bellator? Next year we hope to see Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson or Anthony Johnson in UFC championship fights. Rampage Jackson should get a Bellator title fight but it's not even certain that he'll return to the promotion to begin with. Ironically, if you go back four years ago to our August 2010 light heavyweight rankings, the only fighters who remain on this list today include Shogun Rua, Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson, Jon Jones and Ryan Bader.

In August 2018 I'm not even sold that four of the fighters below will be ranked at light heavyweight.

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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 (20-1)


Height: 6'4

Birthday: July 19, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Glover Teixeira - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

- vs. Alexander Gustafsson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson - September 21, 2013

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen - April 27, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Daniel Cormier - UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier - January 3, 2015

Comment: Jones underwent successful surgery last week to repair his torn meniscus in his left knee. He suffered the injury while training with Alistair Overeem last Monday along with a sprained ankle. The best fighter in the world hopes to be able to begin training by October with his upcoming title fight now set for January 3.




2) Alexander Gustafsson (16-2)


Height: 6'5

Birthday: January 15, 1987

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jimi Manuwa - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa - March 8, 2014

- vs. Jon Jones - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson - September 21, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Gustafsson is not a happy camper. He was passed over, (due to a a torn meniscus of his own, ironically) by the UFC when he was originally scheduled to have a rematch with Jones, so Daniel Cormier could get the big fight. He should be able to start training sometime in September, assuming there are no setbacks in his physical rehab. In the meantime, Gustafsson wants the rematch with Jones before the champion matches up with Cormier, going so far to say that he wants to sit on the sidelines until his title fight. The likelihood of that happening however is slim. He has not fought since March and sitting idly by would mean he's inactive until next spring or summer. Besides, there is another top contender just coming off a fight who needs a fight for early 2015 -- his name is Rumble.




3) Daniel Cormier (15-0)


Birthday: March 20, 1979

Height: 5'9

Weight: 239

Currently fighting with: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Dan Henderson - Win via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw - May 24, 2014

- vs. Patrick Cummins - Win via TKO (punches) - UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann - February 22, 2014

- vs. Roy Nelson - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 166: Velasquez vs. JDS 3 - October 19, 2013

- vs. Frank Mir - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez - April 20, 2013

- vs. Dion Staring - Win via TKO (strikes) - Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Seffiedine - January 12, 2013

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Jon Jones - UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier - January 3, 2015

Comment: All of it is crazy when you stop and consider that days before Jones suffered his knee injury, both he and Cormier had their press conference brawl in Las Vegas. If anyone was going to get a serious injury, you would imagine that would have been the time with both men toppling over a stage. But, not so. Cormier has been dealing with knee injuries forever it seems and maintains he will not undergo the knife despite his fight being pushed to January. The one time U.S. Olympic wrestler sustained a tear to his LCL about a week before his fight with Dan Henderson, while the ACL in his right knee is damaged as well. On a Fox Sports 1 appearance last week, he said he is choosing to avoid surgery so he can focus on a long training camp on his terms (he can have a full three month camp now instead of a rushed 8-week camp).

His ACL has deteriorated over time going back to his amateur wrestling days and I assume he's going through physical rehab to keep the LCL injury manageable.




4) Rashad Evans (19-3-1)


Height: 5'11

Birthday: September 25, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks - November 16, 2013

- vs. Dan Henderson - Win via decision (split) - UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson - June 15, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Speaking of injuries, this former UFC champion is closer to a return - expected to be early in 2015. He tore his ACL (prior to a scheduled bout with Cormier, of course) last February and is targeting February 2015 for his next fight. We last saw him finish Chael Sonnen last year and many people have forgotten about Rashad Evans. He will turn 35-years-old next year and there's no telling how well he'll fight with the knee injury behind him, so there will be lots of questions when he steps back inside the octagon. But, one fight you will definitely not see is a match-up with Anthony Johnson and the two work together in the Blackzilians camp.




5) Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (18-4)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: March 6, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira - Win via KO (strikes) - UFC on Fox - July 26, 2014

- vs. Phil Davis - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

- vs. Mike Kyle - Win via KO (punch) - WSOF 8 - January 18, 2014

- vs. Andrei Arlovski - Win via decision (unanimous) - WSOF 2 - March 23, 2013

- vs. D.J. Linderman - Win via KO (punch) - WSOF 1 - November 3, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: It was not a fight anyone particularly wanted to see but the UFC made it anyway and as expected, Rumble Johnson destroyed Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on the last Fox show about a month ago. All it took was 44-seconds and Lil' Nog was out of it as Johnson continues to cement his position as one of the best in the division.




6) Glover Teixeira (22-3)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: October 28, 1979

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Jon Jones - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

- vs. Ryan Bader - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Bader - September 4, 2013

- vs. James Te-Huna - Win via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Big Foot 2 - May 25, 2013

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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Phil Davis - UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes 2 - October 25, 2014

Comment: Glover will look to avoid the first losing streak of his career in October when he fights Phil Davis in his native Brazil.




7) Phil Davis (12-2, 1 No Contest)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: September 25, 1984

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Anthony Johnson - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 172: Jones vs. Teixeira - April 26, 2014

- vs. Lyoto Machida - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 163: Aldo vs. Korean Zombie - August 3, 2013

- vs. Vinny Magalhaes - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen - April 27, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Glover Teixeira - UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes 2 - October 25, 2014

Comment: Davis is in the same boat as Glover in two months because "Mr. Wonderful" lost to Anthony Johnson in April (the same show as Jones/Teixeira) and he has not been back in the cage since then. He will celebrate his 30th birthday next month and a win over the Brazilian would be huge as it would keep the former Penn State wrestler near the top of the division.




8) Ryan Bader (18-4)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: June 7, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Ovince St. Preux - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. St. Preux - August 16, 2014

- vs. Rafael Cavalcante - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov - June 14, 2014

- vs. Anthony Perosh - Win via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Bigfoot - December 7, 2013

- vs. Glover Teixeira - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Teixeira vs. Bader - September 4, 2013

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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Some people believed Bader was going to lose to OSP Saturday night and begin his fall into gatekeeper status (not elite but a test for rising fighters to see if they can emerge into legitimate title contention) in the UFC's light heavyweight division. However, Bader decisively outclassed St. Preux over the course of their five round fight. The win gives him his first three-fight win streak since 2010 (since then he is 6-4 with losses to Jon Jones, Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida and Glover Teixeira).



9) Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (35-11)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: June 20, 1978

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- - vs. King Mo Lawal - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 120 - May 17, 2014

- vs. Christian M'Pumbu - Win via KO (punch) - Bellator 110 - February 28, 2014

- vs. Joey Beltran - Win via TKO (strikes) - Bellator 108 - November 15, 2013

- vs. Glover Teixeira - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC on Fox - January 26, 2013

- vs. Ryan Bader - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson - February 26, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: Rampage won the Bellator light heavyweight tournament earlier in the year but has not returned to the cage since. In fact, he appeared to be considering his future outside the company when founder Bjorn Rebney was fired by Viacom and replaced with Scott Coker. I believe Rampage met with Coker last month to discuss the future but we know nothing as to if or when he will return to Bellator.




10) Ovince St. Preux (16-6)


Height: 6'3

Birthday: April 8, 1983

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Ryan Bader - Loss via decision (unanimous) - UFC Fight Night: Bader vs. St. Preux - August 16, 2014

- vs. Ryan Jimmo - Win via submission (injury) - UFC 174 - June 14, 2014

- vs. Nikita Krylov - Win via submission (Von Flue choke) - UFC 171 - March 15, 2014

- vs. Cody Donovan - Win via KO (punches) - UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen - August 17, 2013

- vs. Gian Villante - Win via decision (split) - UFC 159 - April 27, 2013

- vs. T.J. Cook - Win via KO (punch) - Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman - August 18, 2012

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: OSP's fight with Bader over the weekend was built as the former Tennessee Volunteer's first big fight with a top 10 opponent and a test to see if he was going to rise up the rankings himself. Well, the fight didn't go so well for Ovince as he fell short on scores of 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46 in Maine.




11) "The Hardcore Kid" Emanuel Newton (23-7-1)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: January 2, 1984

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Attila Vegh - Win via decision (split) - Bellator 113 - March 21, 2014

- vs. King Mo Lawal - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 106 - November 2, 2013

- vs. Mikhail Zayats - Win via decision (unanimous) - Bellator 94 - March 28, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- vs. Joey Beltran - Bellator 124 - September 12, 2014

Comment: If you would like the reasoning behind Joey Beltran getting a title fight with Bellator champion Emanuel Newton, I have no clue. Beltran won his last fight in Bellator, back in April when he choked out Vladimir Matyushenko. However, before the win his record was 1-4 and one no contest since 2012. Maybe Scott Coker (or whomever booked the fight) just needed a body to put in with Newton so they could have a title fight main event the second show of their upcoming season. Newton will win the fight and it will not be close. Beltran is a veteran of the sport who has been in countless wars, but if you are the people behind a major MMA promotion in 2014, you cannot have Joey Beltran challenging for one of your championships.



12) Dan Henderson (30-12)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: August 24, 1970

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

vs. Daniel Cormier - Loss via submission (rear naked choke) - UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw - May 24, 2014

- vs. Shogun Rua - Win via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Hendo 2 - March 23, 2014

- vs. Vitor Belfort - Loss via KO (head kick) - UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Belfort - November 9, 2013

- vs. Rashad Evans - Loss via decision (split) - UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson - June 15, 2013

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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown

Comment: In recent weeks, Wanderlei Silva has called out for a third fight with Dan Henderson (Hendo seems cool with the idea), but whether Wand will be able to fight anytime soon remains to be seen. Without getting into the whole story here, Silva is facing a suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for literally running away from a representative when he was asked to submit a urine sample for drug testing purposes. Now will Silva definitely be suspended? No, we know the commission in Nevada can be a bit corrupt at times, so maybe they'll do Wanderlei a favor and ask him when he wants to be drug tested in the future.




13) Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (22-9)


Birthday: November 25, 1981

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Dan Henderson - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Hendo 2 - March 23, 2014

- vs. James Te-Huna - Win via KO (punch) - UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Bigfoot - December 7, 2013

- vs. Chael Sonnen - Loss via submission (guillotine choke) - UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen - August 17, 2013

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown



14) Jimi Manuwa (14-1)


Height: 6'1

Birthday: February 18, 1980

Currently Fighting With: UFC

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Alexander Gustafsson - Loss via TKO (strikes) - UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa - March 8, 2014

- vs. Ryan Jimmo - Win via TKO (injury) - UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Munoz - October 26, 2013

- vs. Cyrille Diabate - Win via TKO (injury) - UFC on Fuel: Barao vs. McDonald - February 16, 2013

- vs. Kyle Kingsbury - Win via TKO (doctor stoppage) - UFC on Fuel: Struve vs. Miocic - September 29, 2012

- vs. Anthony Rea - Win via TKO (did not answer bell) - BAMMA 8 - December 10, 2011

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown




15) Attila Vegh (29-5-2)


Height: 6'2

Birthday: August 9, 1985

Currently Fighting With: Bellator MMA

Last 5 fights:

- vs. Emanuel Newton - Loss via decision (split) - Bellator 113 - March 21, 2014

- 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

Next scheduled appearance:

- Unknown






Final Notes: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ilir Latifi received an additional votes.





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