Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Who would have known what we were in for just two months ago?
Remember those lazy, carefree days of summer, when the notion that the winner of the Mauricio Rua-Brandon Vera fight would get a title shot constituted an outrage?
We're barely two months removed from that little episode, but so much has happened in the interim, it may as well have been eons ago.
A brief refresher course on what's gone down since:
*White announced the winner of the Rua-Vera fight would get a shot at the winner of Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson on Sept. 1, prompting a level of Twitter outrage nowadays reserved for NFL replacement refs.
*White changed his mind and decided that the winner who looked best out of Rua-Vera and Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader would be awarded the shot.
*At UFC on FOX on Aug. 4, Machida smokes Bader and Rua survives a war with Vera. After the card, White gives Machida the title shot, more or less saying Machida wants the belt more than he wants life itself.
*Sometime over the next couple weeks, Dan Henderson injured his knee in training and decided to keep it quiet for the time being.
*All hell breaks loose. After Henderson told White he can't go; White tried to get Jones to fight Chael Sonnen, who offered to step up and take the bout. Jones refused the fight. White pulled the plug on the card in a memorable Aug. 23 teleconference. Machida was prematurely announced as Jones' next opponent on Sept. 22. The fight hadn't been signed. Machida tried to sucker Jones and White into giving him the fight in Brazil in October, when denied, Machida refused the Sept. 22 date. When all was said and done, Vitor Belfort ends up with the title shot.
*Other fights of consequence in the division are either announced or strongly rumored, including Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson on Dec. 8 and Henderson vs. Machida.
*Belfort nearly pulls off an upset for the ages in the opening moments of his bout with Jones, as he catches Jones in a deep armbar. Jones recovers and puts on a clinic before winning via fourth-round submission.
Got all that? Good. Now, time for a look at where things stand at 205 pounds after two months of drama:
(Official MMAFighting.com ranking policy: Fighters who are under commission suspensions are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their penalty. At light heavyweight, this currently affects Rafael Cavalcante).
1. Jon Jones (17-1) -- There's little left to say about Jones' dominance in the division. Biggest question now is how long his arm injury will keep him out.
2. Dan Henderson (29-8) -- If reported Machida fight is made official, Henderson in a position where he might not ever get a title shot again.
3. Rashad Evans (17-2-1) -- Only fighter among the "Jones Five" ex-champs who went the distance with "Bones."
5. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (21-6) -- The former champ has taken an ungodly amount of punishment in three of his past four fights. How much gas does he have left in the tank? Which leads us to ...
6. Alexander Gustafsson (14-1) -- The winner of five in a row, against better and better competition each time out. A win over Rua on Dec. 8 would give him a strong case for a title shot.
7. Phil Davis (9-1, 1 NC) -- On Oct. 13, Davis gets a re-take of his no-contest with Wagner Prado.
8. Glover Teixeira (18-2) -- Winner of 16 straight has undeniable skills, but will have to face bigger names than Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado before he moves any higher.
9. Ryan Bader (14-3) -- It's too soon to write Bader off, but his bad loss to Machida shows how far he still has to go.
10. James Te Huna (15-5) -- New Zealander has rebounded nicely with three straight wins since his only UFC loss, to Gustafsson. A step up in competition level is in order.
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