1. Mauricio Rua knocked out unhittable Machida
The former PRIDE stars owns one of the last defeats on Alistair Overeem’s record, made his debut in the UFC against Forrest Griffin September 2007, and got choked out. He didn’t fight again for nearly 16 months and many fans were worried that he left his skills in Japan. In the Mark Coleman fight, he looked rusty, but won by TKO in the third round. He knocked out Chuck Liddell in the first round and was ready for a title shot. He lost by unanimous decision in one of the worst decisions I have ever seen to Lyoto Machida. The Ultimate Fighting Championships agreed and gave him a rematch, where he knocked out Machida in the first round to win the title. We haven’t seen him fight since, but he’s the top guy in the top company in the world.
Last Fight: Knockout victory over Machida at UFC 113
Next Fight: Jon Jones at UFC 128
2. Rashad Evans – 10 – 1 – 1 UFC Record
Evans is 4 – 1 over his last five fights with huge victories over Quinton Jackson, Thiago Silva, Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell. His lone loss was his lone title defense against Machida. Those fights go back to September 2008, so it has to be hard for Evans to stay sharp with only five fights in that span. He had a title shot for UFC 128 lined up, but had to pull out with a knee injury.
Last Fight: Unanimous decision victory over Jackson at UFC 114
Next Fight: TBD
3. Jon Jones – Impresses all in victory of Ryan Bader
Jones looked like ten year professional in his victory over Bader. The win, coupled with Jackson rejecting the plan to replace Evans in the title fight next month put Jones in the driver seat for his dream. With a 12 – 1 career record and the lone loss coming by disqualification, Jones has been the most exciting fighter the sport has seen in years.
Last Fight: Submission over Bader at UFC 126
Next Fight: Rua at UFC 128
4. Rampage Jackson still at the top tier of Light Heavyweights
At 31 – 8 in his career, Jackson has done it all in the sport. He’s beaten the best the mixed martial artists we’ve ever seen. Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, and Dan Henderson have all gone down to Jackson. However, over his last five fights, he is only 3 – 2, with losses to Evans and Griffin, while defeating Keith Jardine, Silva and Machida. The fight with Machida could have gone either way. Jackson thought Machida won the fight, but UFC President Dana White disagreed.
Last Fight: Split decision victory over Machida at UFC 123
Next Fight: Hamill at UFC 130
5. Forrest Griffin wins gritty bout with Rich Franklin
One of the most popular fighters in the UFC, Griffin, the former Light Heavyweight Champion has only had two fights since November 2009. When he fights again is a question mark as he broke his foot in the win over Franklin. He holds a 9 – 4 record in the UFC and aside from his loss to Jardine, his other losses were to former and current UFC champions. Can’t hold those against him.
Last Fight: Unanimous decision victory over Franklin at UFC 126
Next Fight: TBD
Who’s Coming – Matt Hamill. With a 10 – 2 career record, Hamill is one of the most unheralded fighters in the sport. The MMA god’s gave him back the win that was stolen from him by Michael Bisping, with the disqualification win over Jones. A win over Rampage at UFC 130 will push him into the top 5 and possibly within a fight or two from a title shot.
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