After a full month of April, in which we saw a UFC card each weekend, these last three weeks have felt much longer. But this Saturday the UFC is back in Brazil with the first of four events in the coming month. The main event will welcome the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold into the Octagon against a mainstay of the UFC in Vitor Belfort. And with the fight in Vitor’s backyard, Rockhold will certainly have his work cut out for him.
With this being a TV card (and one that isn’t on Fox) the number of big-name fighters is pretty low. But there is still some potential for movement up the UFC Ladder (which you can view here). These fighters have the best chance to climb the ranks of their weight class with a win. Read More…
When I put out the first UFC Ladder last year, my intent was to update the rankings every month. But soon after, I realize how impractical that was. Simply put, every weight class doesn’t have marquee fights each month, so I wanted each ladder update to reflect actual change. So after updating a few weight classes in February, here we are again.
While every ladder update may not be three months in between one another, I certainly wouldn’t expect the next update to come before August. I want to put out ladder updates as the UFC begins a break from title fights, as they are for the month of May. And judging by the schedule of future events (though largely unannounced), the beginning of October seems like a good spot at the moment.
But all of that will be sorted out in the coming months. This month, every weight class has been updated, including the flyweight division for the first time. Also of note is that the entire ladder will now be in one post, because the whole eight separate posts thing was a huge hassle.
We’ll begin with heavyweight…
Seeing as this is only my second time giving a preview of potential ladder movement at a UFC event, I’m not sure if the amount of fighters on each list can tell us anything about the quality of the event, on paper. But I am willing to make the argument that this Saturday’s card, while it should be very exciting, is one of the more inconsequential that we’ve had in the past few months. Read More…
With a UFC events on all four weekends in April, I’m kicking myself for not writing about the first two events. But as a consolation, I thought I’d give a little preview of what to expect on the next UFC Ladder coming out in May. Here’s a look at the fighters on today’s card with the best chances of moving up their divisional ladder with a win. Read More…
He doesn’t have the hype of the Jon Jones’s or Jose Aldo’s of the world, but Benson Henderson’s reign over the lightweight division has been just as impressive. The 29-year old easily dispatched Nate Diaz en route to a unanimous decision win this past December and will follow it up with a clash against Strikeforce-import Gilbert Melendez.
New to the Ladder is T.J. Grant, who is fresh off a knockout win over Matt Wiman at UFC on Fox 6 a few weeks back. Dropping off the ladder is Donald Cerrone, who in a very lethargic performance, was knocked out by Anthony Pettis on the same card.
Anthony Pettis was on the Ladder, but with a featherweight title matchup coming up in August, I’m removing him until he returns to 155. And once he does, he’ll be right back in the contender spot.
Champion: Benson Henderson
The champ is 6-0 in the UFC, yet is still relegated to headlining Fox cards. His upcoming bout with Gilbert Melendez will receive similar treatment. The one future fight that could be a solid PPV draw for Henderson would be a rematch with Anthony Pettis, who has moved down to 145 to face Aldo.
Contenders: Gilbert Melendez
Not fighting since May and getting an immediate title shot upon entering the UFC just shows how highly-touted Gilbert Melendez is among the lightweight division. “El Niño” will have his work cut out for him, but even with a loss, he’s a great addition for the UFC and the weight class; a tough bout for anyone.
In The Discussion: Jim Miller
Coming off a unanimous decision win over Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller is right back in the discussion for a title shot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: his only losses are to Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz. It’s tough to knock the New Jersey product. In April, he’ll square off against Pat Healy to move one step closer to the champion.
On The Rise: Khabib Nurmagomedov, T.J. Grant
Thiago Tavares was just recently outed as the fighter who tested positive for banned substances at UFC on FX 7. But even with the extra boost, the Brazilian was still throttled by Khabib Nurmagomedov in the first round. Nurmagomedov is in desperate need of a fight against a top opponent. With his 19-0 professional record and second finish since entering the UFC, he’s certainly earned it.
Since dropping to lightweight in October 2011, UFC veteran T.J. Grant has gone 4-0 with a finish by knockout and submission each. After alternating wins and losses in his six bouts at welterweight, Grant may have found his calling at 155. Like Nurmagomedov, the Canadian deserves to fight a top lightweight next.
Daron Cruickshank vs. John Makdessi – UFC 158 (March 16)
Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez – UFC on Fox 7 (April 20)
Rustam Khabilov vs. Yancy Medeiros – UFC 159 (April 27)
Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy – UFC 159 (April 27)
And then there was Weidman.
Anderson Silva’s camp has seemed willing to give everyone a shot at the title except the man most deserving of it. First it was Michael Bisping, until he was knocked out Vitor Belfort last month. So maybe Vitor gets a rematch? Or maybe not – he seems more interested in avenging his loss to Jon Jones at 205.
Last week it was Rashad Evans, who was all but guaranteed a shot at the title with a solid performance at UFC 156. But after his unanimous decision loss, he isn’t getting a shot any time soon. Maybe Hector Lombard? Maybe, but a single win over Rousimar Palhares won’t get it done.
Looks like it’s Weidman or bust for the champ. He’s not the most lucrative option, but he’s the most deserving at the moment. I expect the match to be announced later this month. After Weidman and Belfort, there aren’t many challengers. Tim Boetsch lost to Costa Phillipou, but Boetsch only had a place on the Ladder because of his split decision win over Lombard. Alan Belcher lost to Yushin Okami and Okami isn’t anywhere close to the Ladder. Read More…
While his coaching career on this season of The Ultimate Fighter has gotten off to a rocky start, Jon “Bones” Jones is still the king of the light heavyweight division.
The 25-year old has an April meeting with Chael Sonnen in his future and should he pass the test (when he passes the test), his next opponent will likely be the winner of Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida’s bout later this month.
Behind those four, there’s an unfamiliar void thanks to Rashad Evans’s unanimous decision loss to Antonio “Minotoro” Nogueira last week. While he has only lost three professional bouts and was inches from a title shot against Anderson Silva, he’s now off the UFC Ladder.
Also moving onto the Ladder since its last update, Glover Teixeira and Phil Davis.
Champion: Jon Jones
Jon Jones has been flirting with a move to heavyweight, and who can blame him? Outside of an armbar attempt from Vitor Belfort in his last fight, he’s coasted through some of the sport’s greatest fighters. He needs tough matchups and Chael Sonnen isn’t one of them.
Contenders: Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Lyoto Machida
But regardless, Chael will get his chance to dethrone the light heavyweight champ at UFC 159. Sonnen is coming off of a loss in his rematch to middleweight king Silva and hasn’t fought at 205 since 2003. But the fight, coupled with his coaching stint on TUF, should net him a decent PPV draw.
Meanwhile, Dan Henderson is looking to earn the title shot that he lost out on due to injury late last year. To do it, he’ll have to get past Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, who is vying for a rematch with Jones. In their first fight, Jones finished the Brazilian via standing guillotine in the 2nd round. Also notable is the fact that Henderson hasn’t fought since his Fight of the Year clash with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139…in 2011. Ring rust could be a factor.
In The Discussion: Alexander Gustafsson, Phil Davis
With his ladder-climbing win over “Shogun” this past December, Gustafsson is now riding a six-fight win streak in the UFC. Next up, he’ll return to his home country to fight Strikeforce import Gegard Mousasi in April. Should he get past Mousasi, he could be one fight away from a title shot.
“Mr. Wonderful” has been flying under the radar since his loss to Rashad Evans, but he’s rebounded quite nicely with two solid performances against Wagner Prado. Should he beat Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 159, he’ll surely be matched up against another top light heavyweight.
On The Rise: Glover Teixeira, James Te Huna
While his win against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has some throwing Glover Teixeira’s name in the discussion for the title, he’s not quite ready yet. Even against a washed up Jackson, Teixeira looked far from impressive. While I agree that his next bout should be against a fighter in their prime, he’s still a few wins away from legitimate contention.
James Te Huna is in a similar position for his fight later this month. Should he beat the highly-touted Ryan Jimmo convincingly, he could find himself moving up the ladder. But a loss could clear the way for Jimmo, who’s coming off a seven-second knockout of Anthony Perosh.
James Te Huna vs. Ryan Jimmo – UFC on Fuel 7 (February 16)
Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida – UFC 157 (February 23)
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Gegard Mousasi – UFC on Fuel TV 9 (April 6)
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes – UFC 159 (April 27)
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen – UFC 159 (April 27)
The UFC is off to a phenomenal start in 2013, giving us good cards and exciting fights. UFC 156 was no different. Let’s review:
No Controversy Here
Once Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar finished five rounds of back and forth action, I could feel the tension of those watching the fight from around the country. But there was no controversy surrounding the final scorecards: two judges scored the fight 49-46, while a third scored it 48-47 all in favor of Aldo. The result was, by all professional accounts, correct (most had it 48-47, as did I). Read More…
As a whole, UFC on Fox 6 delivered some great fights and impressive finishes for fighters looking to move their way up the UFC Ladder. Let’s review:
Demetrious Johnson Cleans Out Flyweight Division
With his first title defense, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has cleared out the 125-lb. division. No, seriously.
Since dropping down from bantamweight after his title loss to Dominick Cruz, “Might Mouse” has gone 3-0-1 in the UFC’s newest weight class, with wins over Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez, and John Dodson. With only 13 flyweights currently on the roster and nine with a flyweight win in the UFC, the division seems to be suffering from the same issue that plagued the bantamweights early on: a lack of depth. Read More…
Jose Aldo’s motorcycle accident put him on the shelf for a little over a year, but I, for one, am ready to see him back in the Octagon.After his scheduled bout with Eric Koch fell through (and thankfully – Koch isn’t nearly ready yet), he now draws former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in what should be an early candidate for 2013 Fight of the Year.
Now with Aldo’s inactivity and Edgar’s possibly permanent drop to 145, the featherweight division is stacked with talent.
Note to the bantamweight division: this is how you carry on during a champion’s absence.
Champion: Jose Aldo
He’s one of the best P4P fighters in mixed martial arts and he has a huge test coming on Super Bowl weekend. We finally got a glimpse of just how dangerous the Brazilian can be in the Octagon with his knockout of Chad Mendes just before the bell back at UFC 142. Hopefully the long layoff hasn’t slowed Aldo down too much.
Contenders: Frankie Edgar, Eric Koch, Ricardo Lamas
Dana White had promised Frankie Edgar an immediate title shot should he drop down from lightweight and with Koch’s injuries, Edgar finally seized on the opportunity. Edgar performed so well against the bigger guys of 155, I can only imagine what he’ll do against fighters his size.
A former WEC import, Eric Koch is 2-0 in the UFC. While it may be enough to put him into contention, he hasn’t fought since September 2011. The only reason that he’s a contender as opposed to just being “in the discussion” is because of his scheduled title fight with Aldo late last year. He needs to fight more, so a tilt with Ricardo Lamas later this month makes a ton of sense.
Lamas is 3-0 since coming to the UFC and scored a nice win over Hatsu Hioki last June. With his Eric Koch fight coming a week before Aldo-Edgar, the winner could find themselves fighting for the title later this year.
In The Discussion: Chad Mendes, Dennis Siver, Chan Sung Jung
Chad Mendes hasn’t fought anyone of consequence since losing to Aldo, but he’s blasted through everyone that the UFC’s placed in front of him in the first round. Hopefully after he punishes Manny Gamburyan in February, he can get more high-profile fights in the division.
Since dropping down to featherweight, Dennis Siver has handily defeated Diego Nunes and Nam Phan. He draws Cub Swanson next, in a fight that could really vault him into title contention.
“The Korean Zombie” is still riding the fumes of his “Fight of the Year” win over Dustin Poirier back at UFC on Fuel TV 3. He was expected to fight in Macau last November, but decided to have shoulder surgery in July. There’s still no timetable for his return, but I expect Chan Sung Jung to have a fight scheduled within the next month or so.
On The Rise: Max Holloway, Rony Mariano Bazerra, Robbie Peralta
Max Holloway is on a three fight win streak, after a split decision over Leonard Garcia last weekend. And with Robbie Peralta’s 23-second knockout over Jason Young in September, he’s another fighter to watch out for in 2013.
TUF Brazil featherweight tournament winner Rony “Jason” Bazerra followed up his reality show-winning bout with a knockout of Sam Sicilia at UFC 153. I’m not sure how many Americans watched TUF Brazil, but Bazerra is a hit in Brazile. If he can keep adding wins, he could find himself amongst the division’s best in 2013.
Eric Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas – UFC on Fox 6 (January 26)
Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar – UFC 156 (February 2)
Cub Swanson vs. Dennis Siver – UFC on FX 7 (February 16)
Chad Mendes vs. Manny Gamburyan – UFC 157 (February 23)