Fights We Need To See In 2012 (Light Heavyweights)
The light-heavyweight division is one of the deepest and talent-heavy divisions in MMA and the UFC. And yet it has a champion that some are considering unbeatable, a prodigy with no apparent weaknesses who gets better with each fight. With that said, there are plenty of great fights that could be made in 2012. With that said, here are some fights we need to see in 2012.
Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva
Jones hasn’t necessarily cleared out the light heavyweight division yet. However, he has won with such dominance that many feel his biggest threat isn’t even currently in his weight class. Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson, Shogun Rua, and Ryan Bader all were expected to give Jones a tough fight in 2011, and all failed to test Jones. Jones next opponent will most likely be either Dan Henderson or Rashad Evans, and Jones will be a heavy favorite against either opponent.
Presuming Jones wins against either foe, his next fight needs to be a showdown against middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva. Silva has cleared out his division, and other than a last-round submission over testosterone-lacking Chael Sonnen, hasn’t been challenged once in the octagon. With the sudden retirement of Brock Lesnar and an indefinite injury to Georges St. Pierre, Jones has emerged as the UFC’s biggest pay per view draw. Not to mention he is American born and raised. Silva is considered the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet. Both fighters have been labeled unbeatable. A champion vs. champion superfight would be huge for business as well as exposure.
Dan Henderson vs. Quinton Jackson
If Henderson is not given the next title fight against Jones, and Jackson defeats Ryan Bader next month, Henderson vs. Jackson in a five-round fight would make for an entertaining battle.
But that is a big “if”. Jon Jones is rumored to be preparing to defend his title in March, which would not be enough time for Rashad Evans to prepare, should be beat Phil Davis. That would leave Henderson as the logical opponent. And Jackson has a legit test against Ryan Bader. Although Jackson has said publicly he wishes will be fighting a bigger name opponent in Japan, Bader is not an easy win. Bader has proven to have one-punch knockout power, as well as a strong wrestling base. If Jackson doesn’t take Bader seriously, he may find himself having flashbacks to his brutal KO defeats in Japan at the hands of Wanderlei Silva and Shogun Rua. Fortunately for Jackson, he can’t get KO’d through the ropes at UFC 144.
But should Jackson defeat Bader, and Henderson not get a title shot, Jackson vs. Henderson would be a solid fight. Jackson beat Henderson by close decision to defend his title at UFC 75. A rematch would put the winner at the top of the list of contenders.
If Davis wins this month against Rashad Evans, he is still not being considered for a title shot. A fight against former Strikeforce champion Lawal would be a great test to see if Davis is ready for a title shot. If Davis loses to Evans, it would give Lawal a tough first fight in the UFC, but also give Davis a chance to rebound by defeating a very tough veteran in Lawal.
Obviously this would require Lawal to be allowed to leave his current Strikeforce contract, but with the recent crossovers of Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Alistair Overeem and the entire heavyweight division, Lawal should be high on the list of UFC targets.
Which brings me to my next fight…
Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi
I won’t deny that I’m a Mousasi fan. His striking is top-notch, whether standing or on the ground. His weakness has been his wrestling. His philosophy, which is one of the reasons I’ve become a fan of his, is to do damage no matter where the fight takes place.
Against Lawal and Keith Jardine, Mousasi was often taken down, but delivered significant damage from his back. Although it impressed me, it didn’t impress the judges, and Mousasi vowed to improve his wrestling. A debut in the UFC against Machida would give fight fans one of its best striker vs. striker fights in recent memory. Although both fighters have solid ground games, this fight could give us one of the best standup fights of the year.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
After dominating Tito Ortiz, Noguiera expressed an interest in fighting a striker in his next fight. Why not pair up Noguiera with Swedish striker Gustafsson to headline UFC on Fuel 2, which so happens to be taking place in Gustafsson’s home country? Noguiera has some of the most underrated boxing skills in MMA, and a fight against Gustafsson would perhaps be his biggest challenge on the feet since his fights against Alistair Overeem and Shogun Rua in Pride.
Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell
Let’s be honest. Ortiz has expressed an interest in fighting his last fight on July 4th weekend. The only fight that would garner legitimate interest is one last fight against Chuck Liddell.
Although Liddell has been retired since being KO’d by Rich Franklin in June of 2010, Liddell would most likely be considered a favorite if he came out of retirement for one last fight against Ortiz.
He wouldn’t have trouble finding the motivation to get back down to 205 pounds to face his bitter rival in Ortiz, nor would he have to worry about being given another brutal knockout, as Ortiz doesn’t possess knockout power.
Quite frankly, Ortiz’ final fight doesn’t deserve to be on a pay per view unless it’s against Liddell. Ortiz has passed the torch enough times that beating him isn’t quite as impressive as it was in 2008.
A few other Light Heavyweight Fights I’d like to see in 2012:
Rich Franklin vs. Shogun Rua
Thiago Silva vs. Brandon Vera 2
Roger Gracie vs. Vinny Magalhaes