Cleat Geeks

The UFC Light Heavyweight Class (187 lbs.-206 lbs.)

 

April-9-Forrest-and-BonnerThis weight class pretty much defines the UFC. Most people forget that Diego Sanchez won the first season of The Ultimate Fighter by defeating a 185 lb. Kenny Florian. This was due to the war between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar (photo) to decide the light heavyweight winner for the show’s inception. This was the first time the UFC went to local television, airing on Spike TV. Both guys wanted the UFC contract so badly, that neither would quit, even after being hit repeatedly by the other. In this franchise’s defining bout, we had both ends of the spectrum competing in the cage. Bonnar stepped into the octagon with an engineering degree from Purdue University, and Griffin was the guy who had his arm broken during a fight, only to knock his opponent out with his other arm. It showed future fighters that it didn’t matter where you came from, or how you learned your craft, this sport welcomes all mixed martial artists,

FrankShamrockOne of the coaches during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter has since become an MMA icon; Chuck Liddell. This man used to own the division, until he was forced into retirement. It was sad to see Chuck’s career end in the fashion that it did. Liddell’s storied career ended with three consecutive KO/TKO losses. This sport has a very wide revolving door, but this weight class has been known to chew a fighter up, and spit them out, more often than others. Frank Shamrock (photo) was the first to hold the light heavyweight belt, and Tito Ortiz did his best to pick his shots in order to retain the belt after that, but everyone’s party was ruined by two-division champion Randy Couture. Randy famously halted the furious charge of Chuck Liddell, in what would become the first in a trilogy of fights. Chuck ultimately won the rubber-match, putting to rest any doubts anyone might have as to who was the better fighter. After the Chuck Liddell era, the belt changed hands five times in seven total fights. This is an amazing stat when you realize that Jon Jones was able to defend his title eight times before being stripped of the honor for out-of-the-cage antics.

BonesJumpKickJon “Bones” Jones’ (photo) cocaine issue, and hit-and-run incidents are all very well documented. He is the greatest champion that this division has ever seen, but I was glad that the UFC stepped up and took his title. They not only ripped the gold away from Jones, but they let his most hated opponent (the latest fighter that he defended his belt against) challenge for the interim belt. Daniel Cormier was placed in a very good position, when he defeated Anthony “Rumble” Johnson to see who would be the new champion. As strange as it sounds, I believe that “Rumble” stood a better chance of winning had he faced Jones. Cormier’s Olympic caliber wrestling is best utilized against heavily muscled, brawlers like Johnson. Tall, long technicians like Jones have an advantage over Cormier’s style, which was very apparent in his fight with Jon. DC is now slated to fight the 6′ 5″ Swede Alexander Gustaffson. The man who many believed out pointed Jones in his title fight attempt. The very fight that landed both men on the cover of EA Sports UFC video game.

lyotoMachidaThis weight class is the most recognizable, and easiest for fans to relate because it is the closest to the common size of most men. These aren’t 265 lb. behemoths like we see in the heavyweight division, or the pint-sized fighters in the lower weight classes. This is the division where beer-gut Chuck Liddell KO’ed Randy Couture, and “The Karate Kid” Lyoto Machida (photo) call their home. This division has so much talent in it, that with Jones out of the mix, we may see the belt once again change hands on many consecutive occasions. If you look into the most historic, and defining fights, they most likely took place in the light heavyweight division. If not for this class, I do not believe that MMA would be the fast-rising sport that it is today.

 

Fights to watch:

Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar 1

Forrest Griffin vs Tito Ortiz 1

Chuck Liddell vs Randy Couture Trilogy

Jon Jones vs Lyoto Machida

Lyoto Machida vs Rashad Evans

Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz 2

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