MMA Power Rankings -- Light Heavyweight
Monday, Dec. 12
Jon Jones hasn't lost many rounds in his young MMA career, but it looked like he lost the first to Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 in Toronto. Machida controlled the distance and timed out a couple of sallies that found Jones' chin, and it's the closest thing to adversity we've seen the 205-pound champion face. How did he handle it? In the second round he opened a cut on Machida's forehead with a vicious elbow, and the thought of exsanguination didn't sit well with the "Dragon" (he wasn't the same after that). Moments later, Jones had Machida in a modified standing guillotine choke along the fence; when the referee waved the bout off, Jones dropped Machida in a crumpled heap while coolly strolling away. It caps off an unparalleled year for Jones, who went 4-0 against some of the best in the division.
The capper? He finished all of them.
Machida slips, while Jones retains the top spot, and the question now is -- who is out there to challenge him? It boils down to three names: Rashad Evans, Phil Davis and Dan Henderson. Each man is vying for his shot at Jones' title, yet Evans is the only guarantee if he finds a way to get by Davis. That fight happens on Jan. 28 in Chicago. Should Davis win, it might be left up to how good he looks in victory, because Dan Henderson's gutsy display over Mauricio Rua at UFC 139 was one of the most epic fights of 2011. There are plenty of people who would like to see what the nonplussed 41-year-old could do against Jones, if he could touch that chin with his big right hand. Will it happen? The cards will have to come out of the shoe just right. But with that troika of challengers below Jones, the light heavyweight division is far from cleaned out.