An undisputed champion currently dominates all but one weight class in the UFC. At heavyweight, Brock Lesnar has solidified himself as a dominant champion after capturing the belt from Randy Couture and defending it against Frank Mir in devastating fashion. Anderson “The Spider” Silva has sat atop of the middleweight division for nearly four years now and looks to continue that dominance at UFC 112 when he faces an experienced grappler in Demian Maia. The king of the welterweights and the man who is widely considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world is Georges St. Pierre. Since his loss to Matt Serra in April of 2007, St. Pierre has become a completely different fighter. After winning the belt back from Serra, he has dismantled every opponent put in his way. Last but certainly not least is the lightweight “Prodigy” BJ Penn. Every time we see a challenger emerge at 155 lbs., Penn’s title seems to be up for grabs, yet every time he fights he continues to prove himself and show us all why he is the greatest lightweight champion in history.

 So we see that one fighter is controlling all of these weight classes, though that’s not the case in the light heavyweight division. Since “Rampage” Jackson dethroned Chuck Liddell, there has been no champion to hold the belt for more that one fight. Jackson defended his title once against Dan Henderson but fell short in his next fight with Forrest Griffin as the coaches from The Ultimate Fighter squared off. Griffin then failed to defend against Rashad Evans. Evans then fell to current titleholder, Lyoto Machida. After his destruction of Evans, Machida appeared to be the next long time champ, however, when he faced off against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, he appeared on the verge of defeat as the two traded blows for five razor close rounds. In the end, Machida won the very controversial decision, but the two are set for a rematch in May. With Machida’s dominance is now in question, let’s take a look at possible future champions and when we can expect to see them at the top on the division.

Jon Jones: Since his fight with Matt Hamill, everyone has kept an eye on Jones. He did what no one else has been able to do to Hamill. No one has ever had success fending against Hamill’s superior wrestling, but Jones handled it well and even took Hamill down with ease and quickly finished him with ground strikes. The problem was that the final strikes Jones used were illegal 6-to-12 elbows. The fight ended in a questionable disqualification but Jones found redemption in his fight with Brandon Vera where again, he used his ground strikes to put his opponent away. Dana White has spoken publicly that he wants Jones to get another year under his belt before he gets into title contention. Expect to see some big fights involving “Bones” in the near future.

Ryan Bader: Since winning season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, Bader keeps improving his game with every fight. His biggest win to date came at the expense of Keith Jardine when he knocked out “The Dean of Mean” at UFC 110. With another big win, Bader may be close to the top as well.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: Little Nog has only one fight in the UFC, but that win made a statement. At UFC 106, Minotouro joined his brother and made his highly anticipated Octagon debut against Luiz Cane. At the end of the night, Nogueria’s arm was raised and earned him Knockout of the Night. Holding wins in Pride over Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem, Little Nog is a force to be reckoned with in the UFC. He is scheduled to face Forrest Griffin at UFC 114. A win for either fighter will keep them in the mix at 205, but will catapult Minotouro up the rankings.

A fight between TUF 10 coaches Rashad Evans and “Rampage” Jackson will determine the next contender to face the winner of the Machida/Shogun rematch. The future of these prospects will be known by the end of this year so keep an eye out for them.

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