UFC Light Heavyweight Division Outlook For 2014

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Once the UFC‘s glory division, light heavyweight waters are looking a little shallow in the upcoming year. With Jon Jones still holding on to the belt, Lyoto Machida escaping to the middleweight division, and several well-known fighters trying to reclaim their footing in the division, it looks as if the light heavyweight division is looking to repeat 2013.

Jones defended his title twice in 2013 (Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustafsson), and will probably only add one more title defense to that list since he is the lone dominating champion with Cain Velasquez out for the foreseeable future. Those title defenses will more than likely be against Glover Teixeira, a rematch with Gustafsson (if he makes it past Jimi Manuwa), and possibly either Rashad Evans or Daniel Cormier.

Although everyone loves or hates watching a dominate champion do their thing, in a division that has been wiped out by the champion, there isn’t that many competitors to challenge for the title. Well known guys like Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Evans have already lost to Jones, Phil Davis is still attempting to make a statement to fight for a title, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has been suffering injures.

With so many contenders being defeated by Jones, chances of some prospects being pushed faster than they should will become more common as the year goes on; we are already seeing it with Manuwa/Gustafsson. Manuwa was definitely given a great opportunity with the fight, but he still needed one more solid fight before stepping into the octagon with a fighter who pushed the champ to his limits.

Gegard Mousasi, a former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, is moving down to middleweight for his next fight against Machida. It’s yet to be known if he will remain in the middleweight division following the fight.

Unless Cormier defeats Evans in their matchup, it looks like the race for Jones’ title is a two person race in 2014. Even with that, will Teixeira or Gustafsson have what it takes to defeat the champion, or will the champion take his talents to the heavyweight division before the year is over?

Anthony Cloud is a MMA Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Google or like him on Facebook.


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  • Miotch

    I don’t think one guy can clear out a division, except maybe the HW division, which has cleared out itself (no one exists there). There are always up-and-coming fighters and Glover Texiera is one of the most colorful fighters the UFC has seen in a year.

    Let’s not forget Daniel Cormier, either. No one he faced at HW remotely challenged him, so he figures to be an even bigger beast in some ways at LHW. His wrestling might be the best in the LHW division and his standup is too sick. So Jon Jones has a serious challenge ahead of him to simply remain competitive in what should be a powerhouse division this year.

    • Anthony Cloud

      I would have to respectively disagree with the notion that the LHW division will be a powerhouse in the upcoming year. Outside of Daniel Cormier (who has never fought at LHW), Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Texeira, there really isn’t anyone left in the division interesting while Jones is still champion. If one of the three aforementioned fighters happen to beat Jones this year, then the division will improve some. If that doesn’t happen, contenders will continue being scarce.

      • Miotch

        Well four dope fighters has to be a powerhouse. The HW division has maybe one guy and he’s always injured and fights the same guy every time. Most of the rest have either upper 30′s or have tested positive for something.

        But look at this scenario (which will come about): Jones loses to Texeira. Cormier knocks ‘Sugar’ the *%$# out in 2 seconds. Now you got LHW champ Glover Texeira taking on Gus (should he win). Texeira wins and then we get that rematch EVERYONE wants to see in Gus vs. Jones.

        and then think about how over both Glover and Cormier will be. And you’d still have Jones and Gus fighting for another shot. all that can’t even happen in year-long timetable, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

        • Anthony Cloud

          If that scenario happens, then it will get very interesting at LHW. Personally, I don’t see Texeira beating Jones because he has shown signs of getting a little careless. Example: He took so decent shots from Ryan Bader in their bout. Jones won’t get over aggressive as Bader did.If Texeira gets rocked against Jones, he will be finished.

          Cormier could very well knock Rashad Evans out, I won’t disagree with you there. If and when he does, either he or Gus will receive a title shot. I will even make a bold prediction and say Phil Davis could even be in the mix with a couple more wins.

          So there is a possibility of four fighters who could challenge for Jones’ title. That is a good situation for the LHW. In comparison to the other divisions (not HW), the LHW’s lack depth as whole. I do also agree with you stance on the HW division. It is in horrible shape.

          • Miotch

            Glover admitted afterward he got too cocky and messed around, but he more than survived it. think he was even better when he faced some adversity. He’s got a good streak going. Not a ‘Fedor’ streak but a good streak. And notice how Fedor kept getting better after it looked like he might lose some fights.

            If anything, I think Glover vs. Jones will be a better fight than Jones-Gus in that Glover won’t be running away from Jones half the fight and doesn’t have to worry about the take-down (he’s well-rounded).