The top of the light heavyweight rankings could see a serious re-shuffling next month when #1 Rua defends his belt against #3 Jon Jones.
Yeah, Rua was supposed to face Rashad Evans, but that all changed after Evans suffered a knee injury in training and Jones decimated Ryan Bader at UFC 126 earlier this month.
Let’s take a look at February’s rankings, shall we?
1. Mauricio Shogun Rua
Shogun had his UFC 128 opponent switched on him at the last second, going from Rashad Evans to Jon Jones in a matter of 24 hours. He also went from being a favorite over Evans to the underdog to Jones. All in a day’s work for the Pride legend, right?
2. Rashad Evans
“Sugar” is paying the price for his decision to wait around on a title shot. Evans injured his knee in training and was forced to the shelf, so the UFC decided to give his title shot to teammate Jon Jones. Which means that, should Jones win, Evans will have to vacate the decision, because he’s not going to fight Jones.
3. Jon Jones
Jones was given the chance of a lifetime after easily defeating Ryan Bader at UFC 126. He’ll go into his first world title bout as the favorite to bring home the belt. That’s heady stuff for such a young fighter, but we have no reason to believe that Jones won’t respond in the mature fashion he’s known for.
4. Rampage Jackson
Jackson went from fighting Thiago Silva to fighting Rashad Evans to fighting Matt Hamill. No matter the opponent, Jackson is just a win or two away from another title shot. Hamill’s a tough kid, though, and Jackson will have his hands full with the kind of kryptonite wrestler that has given him problems in the past.
5. Forrest Griffin
His UFC 126 win over Rich Franklin was nothing to write home about, but Griffin will always be a perennial contender due to his popularity. If Antonio Rogerio Nogueira beats Tito Ortiz next month in Seattle, he’d be the perfect opponent for the popular former Ultimate Fighter.
6. Lyoto Machida
Machida may feel like the odd man out in the light heavyweight division, but a win over Randy Couture at the biggest UFC show of all time in Toronto should go a long way towards rehabiliating his image with the fans.
7. Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva’s UFC 125 drug screening is clouded in mystery. We know he was supposed to face Rampage Jackson in May but was removed from the bout due to concerns about his drug test results. Silva could find himself on the shelf for a year or more if he tested positive for PED’s.
8. Ryan Bader
Bader certainly didn’t look like the top light heavyweight prospect everyone thought he was against Jon Jones. But, let’s be real: he was facing Jon Jones, a fighter with the ability to make great fighters look merely average.
9. Rafael Cavalcante
The Strikeforce light heavyweight champion meets Dan Henderson next month. After that? Your guess is as good as ours.
10. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Nogueira finds himself in desperate need of a win over Tito Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 24 next month. We’re not going to say that Nogueira will be released from his contract if he loses to Ortiz, but let’s just say that it won’t look good on his record.
Check out previous HeavyMMA rankings