Examining the farm system
UFC 78 marked a watershed moment for
While none of the TUF light heavyweights is ready for membership in the division's elite, as a group they are progressing up the ranks and building up nice resumes with victories over elite fighters. So, how do the TUF light heavyweights stack up against each other? Here's my attempt at making sense of everything we've seen in the last three years.
Griffin is one-half of the duo (along with
Early in his UFC career, Griffin was primarily known as a brawler. His low point came at UFC 66 when he lost by first-round TKO to
In winning by unanimous decision over
Combine these accomplishments with his recent appearance on
Jardine comes in a close second to Griffin. The Dean of Mean sports the decisive UFC 66 victory over Griffin and he also won in convincing fashion over
Jardine's herky-jerky kickboxing style gives opponents fits and the UFC clearly believes that he, like Griffin, has graduated from TUF competition based on recent matchmaking. But unlike Griffin, Jardine hasn't shown much on the ground. The lack of a ground attack is the primary reason why Jardine sits at No. 2. But he does train with one of the best in
Another Jackson disciple, Evans is at No. 3 by virtue of his unbeaten record and because he has already beaten the two guys below him. Evans fought
Evans also hasn't shown an ability to finish fights on the ground, where his wrestling background gives him an advantage over many opponents. Instead he grinds out boring decision victories.
Bonnar has a losing record against the other fighters on this list and his one win(over Jardine) was close. He also tested positive for steroids after his UFC 62 loss to Griffin. So, why is Bonnar ranked No. 4 and moving up?
Because of the way he has rebounded from the adversity. Bonnar has relocated to Las Vegas and begun training with Xtreme Couture -- and the results are promising. Since coming back from his seven-month steroid suspension Bonnar has gone 2-0 with both wins coming on the ground. While he must continue working on all facets of his game, he appears ready and willing to do so and has already survived possibly the toughest test of his MMA career.
The brash Bisping doesn't lack confidence, whether he wins or loses. However, his last two fights (against Evans and
Persistent speculation about whether he is too small to fight as a light heavyweight and should drop down to the middleweight division doesn't help either. Regardless, Bisping hasn't shown a lot of firepower lately as a striker, which is worrisome since that's his strength. He has shown decent takedown defense and decent ground defense but he doesn't have an offensive ground game. And he has spent a large part of his last two fights retreating rather than attacking.
Maybe Bisping will benefit from more training with