2011 Year End Report: Light Heavyweights

| December 27, 2011 | 6:09 pm | Reply

In a division that has birthed some of the most recognizable and popular faces in the UFC and MMA all over the world, light heavyweight fighters are some of the most impressive, dangerous and naturally talented athletes in the sport today. Zuffa has always been able to promote the best of the best in any weight class but it’s most familiar alum is among the likes of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz.

As the sport has grown and new men have become thrust into the limelight, others fade and the cycle continues. Here are MMA Valor’s best, worst and who to watch in the light heavyweight division for 2011.


Jon Jones (15-1) Clocking in a perfect year (4-0) the New York fighter has gone from the next big thing to the biggest thing. Destroying three legends (all former UFC champions) and finishing another rising star, “Bones” has been steam rolling everyone put up against him. Strikes from all angles, world-class wrestling and a submission skill set that can submit from any position, he shows no indication of losing the belt soon.

As 2012 approaches and his title defenses continue, Jones is poised to keep the belt until it is his time to relinquish or have we seen the evolution of the sport again? Many say he cannot be beaten, much like Anderson Silva – a match between the two is a dream for any fan but is it going to happen? Probably not. While enjoying new cars and accolades that come with his fame, perhaps we will see another Fedor-esque saga, where a man “nobody can beat” will be upset by the underdog and their mortality will be revealed.

Dan Henderson (29-8) One of the oldest men to achieve championship status in an MMA promotion (Strikeforce), Hendo has caught second wind in his career and is ready to go after what he’s yet to win – a UFC championship. Before returning to Zuffa this year,Henderson was matched against former PRIDE champion and heavyweight phenom Fedor for a slugfest that almost saw the Russian victorious;Henderson has the ability to weather a storm and land a brutal short right, slaying the “Last Emperor”

San Jose,CA– Nov 19, 2011; Hendo v Shogun. Promised on paper to be a war turned into one of the greatest MMA fights in history. Five rounds of blood, sweat, tears and heart as both men gave it their all from opening second to last call.Hendersonwalked away battered and the winner, looking to next fight for another shot at UFC gold.


Ryan Bader (13-2) Starting off the year undefeated and fighting for a title shot, Bader was outclassed and submitted by Jon Jones in Feb 2011. Fast forward to UFC 132 where he called out former champion Tito Ortiz in what many thought to be the “easy road” back for Bader. Not so fast, Ortiz dropped him with punches before choking him out and handing “Darth” another loss.

Back against the wall, Bader is returning to his winning ways, most recently knocking out Jason Brilz @ UFC 139 in less than two minutes. His road to the title is filled with challenges he cannot avoid, first on task will be Rampage Jackson in Japan at UFC 144.

Photo Courtesy of Sherdog.com

Rampage Jackson (32-9) Since losing a decision loss to nemesis Rashad Evans, Jackson has seemed to lose the killer instinct that gave him his popularity and wins early in the career. Going 2-1 since UFC 114, he was not impressive in a split decision win over Machida (the win shocked even him) and a unanimous victory over Matt Hamill, who he could have put away in the first round.

Jon Jones was the only thing to stand in the way of “his” belt and when the show started in Denver this past September, Jackson was his own biggest enemy. Not engaging for the fight, it was target practice for the champ who later became the first man in the UFC to submit Jackson and send him back to the dressing room confused.


The division inside the UFC is home to the best 205lb fighters in the world today and the people to watch next year are the former champions looking to get their belt back and other veterans making a claim for themselves. No single fighter is better than the other and the landscape is becoming similar to the middleweight division, the challengers are all top-level but not able to be on the same level as their respective champion.

Check the past Year End reports here

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