With or without
In a sense, the strength of the division today can be traced back to Zuffa's decision to push Ortiz as its poster boy in 2001. While
Not much has changed seven years after Ortiz headlined UFC 31 through 33. The promotion's main card in Las Vegas on May 24 featured four light-heavyweight contests, and in July, the division will be showcased again when its champion,
"That's what this light-heavyweight division is about," said Jackson's trainer
Ibarra and Rampage watched UFC 84 from their cabin in Big Bear, Calif., where training camp is well underway for the Griffin bout. While
"They're all potential opponents," he said. "It's been stacked. The light-heavyweight division isn't a division to play with. You can't take anybody lightly."
Winners from UFC 84 included
The slick Brazilian southpaw predicted a Jackson victory against Griffin at UFC 86, setting up a bout Machida claims he can win. "Quinton is a very talented, explosive, strong fighter," he said. "But I have all the tools and everything in my bag of tricks to beat him."
One potential hurdle for Machida -- and any other fighter, really -- is a lack of marketability among casual fans who view his countering, defensive style as boring. He may not be Wanderlei -- the aggressive former Pride champion who owns two stoppages over Jackson and a destruction of
It remains to be seen if his style comports with what the UFC expects from its athletes, but Ibarra believes Machida is being groomed for a title shot. And for what its worth, Machida's management feels he deserves the opportunity, though other undefeated fighters, such as Thiago Silva, share the same record and could easily claim a challenge to the title.
But aside from the potential champions already in the works, perhaps the best example of the UFC light-heavyweight division's depth came at UFC 84's post-fight press conference when White responded to a question regarding Wanderlei possibly moving down to middleweight.
"There's one interesting fight for him at 185 pounds," White said, alluding to a bout against reigning middleweight champion
But let's face it, that goes for just about everyone fighting at that weight right now.
This isn't rocket science: two of the division's best prospects who both own perfect 13-0 records and are also Brazilian. Slick and unique, versus rough and dangerous. It's a great fight that Machida's camp seems to have little interest in at the moment. But the winner would immediately become a clear-cut contender for the UFC belt, and both fighters would be better for the experience.
Originally scheduled for June 7 in London, injuries put both men on the sidelines. However, this fight represents another classic UFC-vs.-Pride contest. As Liddell dominated the division in the United States, Rua asserted himself against top-flight competition in Japan. A clash of styles -- Liddell's power punching against Rua's high-paced attack -- should make for one interesting fight.
Winners of the first and second season, respectively, of Spike TV's
Silva needed less than a minute to score one of the more vicious knockouts in recent memory against Jardine on Saturday. While some people will take from the Brazilian's victory, it's undeniable that his killer instinct remained intact after three consecutive losses. But that's not why a match against Jackson is compelling. The duo shares a meaningful history and Jackson, according to his trainer, would love nothing more than to avenge his two defeats against Silva. Clear the tape -- this fight will need a lot of space on the highlight reels.