Some Light at the End of the Tunnel - LHW

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How awesome has today been. I wake up, and before I go out for a run, I see a thread from Renzo Gracie that just can't be ignored. Then while at work I see that Daniel Cormier calls out Jon Jones for what would be an awesome fight... assuming that Cormier beats Mir, of course. Then Chris Weidman vs. Tim Boetsch happens, another quality fight between two top 10 fighters, and continuing the trend of stacked cards that is UFC 152, 153, Strikeforce (Cormier/Mir), 154 (Kind of), Fox 5, and 155.

And while I was thinking about Cormier dropping to LHW, all of a sudden I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I've been down on the future of the UFC and MMA's LHW division for a while, and I know I'm not the only. It is an aging division, that is on the verge of some serious turn-over of the top 20 fighters over the next 24 months, some from age, some from wear and tear, and other from a lack of interest, Tito, Rampage, Bonnar, Griffin, Matyushenko, Vera and I'm sorry to say Shogun in the near future will all be moving towards retirement, or serious deterioration. Rich Franklin has dropped back to MW (I'm not sure if that is Middleweight, or Moneyweight wherever he can get a fight) The top prospects to the throne were given their first chance and failed to take it, Bader, and Davis. But then today I saw that between now, and the end of the year there could be some light at the end of the tunnel. There are a few key events that could determine what happens next, but things could get very interesting.

22 Sept - I fully expect Jon Jones to defend his title in brutal, and efficient fashion. Jones will likely come out of this fight injury free, and ready for a bigger payday.

13 Oct - Two key fights for the division happen at UFC 153

Glover Teixiera vs. Rampage Jackson - UFC is all but openly rooting for Teixiera here. An impressive win puts him solidly in the top 10, and right into Dana White's title "mix".

Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado - Davis is currently ranked #6 in SB Nation, but is coming off the first difficult stretch of his career, with a loss to Rashad Evans, and then an ugly No Contest, eye poke in the first fight with Prado. The winner of this fight can start building some momentum, and be on the 2-3 fights to the title track.

8 Dec - A fight that at one point would have been a Number 1 contender fight, but now is just going to move someone one step closer

Shogun Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson - A Gustafsson win here is a big deal for the division. Shogun has been worn out once by Jones, and there wasn't much doubt how a re-match would end. Gustafsson would be some fresh meat, and he is on a pretty good run since his only loss.

29 Dec - A fight that should not be too relevant, but will be for reason not related to the talent in the cage.

Forrest Griffin vs. Chael Sonnen - Due to his work behind a microphone, and keyboard mostly, Sonnen has the potential to earn a title shot with a win here.

This is also the card that Dan Henderson, and Rashad Evans have mentioned for their returns. Lyoto Machida could also end up here.

With 7 of the soon to be 10 UFC Champions (Counting Interim Champs) fighting between now and Dec 29th (Anderson Silva, and Dominick Cruz are not fighting anytime soon, but Barao could end up in action for a January PPV), UFC will likely need Jon Jones to headline a card again no later than the SuperBowl show in February. Now there are options for his next opponent, is Dana White mad enough at Hendo for hiding the knee injury for 2 weeks to skip him in favor of someone like Cormier? If not, Cormier vs. Machida on the Super Bowl show as co-main for Jones vs. Hendo? That could be followed up by a Shogun/Gus winner fighting Sonnen or Teixiera later in the year. From where we were a few short months ago, that I can now map out a route for the LHW Champions next 4 fights is a very good thing. LHW will probably never be Featherweight, Lightweight, or Welterweight in terms of the emerging depth, but keeping the champion fighting no more than twice a year should provide the division a chance to provide quality opposition to Jon Jones or whoever is the champ on a regular basis.

This being said, I now fully expect Rampage to starch Glover, and then retire; Prado and Davis to fight to a draw; Shogun to KO Gustafsson, but destroy his knee one more time; Hendo to lose his TRT exemption; Forrest to beat Sonnen, run away from the cage, and when Dana White doesn't chase him down, he just keeps going, and going, and going never to be seen again; and Cormier to decide that he doesn't want to cut the weight after all.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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