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SB Nation light heavyweight rankings: An MMA Math nightmare come true

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Esther Lin

Underneath UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and the man who will challenge him for the title at UFC 165, Alexander Gustafsson, the 205-pound rankings are a nightmare of MMA Math and controversial decisions.

Rashad Evans? Beat Phil Davis, lost to Jones (acceptable) and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (less acceptable), then won a split decision over Dan Henderson.

Davis? Lost to Evans and beat Machida, but few people think Davis actually won the fight.

Machida? Many people think he beat he beat Davis. Many also think he lost to Dan Henderson in his previous fight, although he got the split in that one. Such is the way of The Dragon. (Side note: while Machida is next fighting Tim Kennedy at 185 pounds, the current poll was compiled before the announcement of the fight, so he remains ranked here for the time being).

Glover Teixeira? Eighteen consecutive wins, but the most impressive one was against a fading Quinton Jackson. Despite that, a victory in an upcoming fight over Ryan Bader gets him a title shot.

Henderson? With one more round from one more judge in his fights against Evans and Machida, Henderson would have two wins and there would be a clamor to make that Jones fight which was supposed to happen last year. Instead, he's dropped back-to-back fights and time isn't on his side.

Out of that muddle, you can basically make a case for anyone to be ranked anywhere from 3-7. You also have enough ammo to shoot down anyone else's choices. It also explains how Evans, with a 1-2 record in his past three fights and that win via split decision, snagged third place in the poll; while Teixeira, the only fighter who got multiple third-place votes, finished sixth.

Evans had 42 points. Davis took fourth with 39, Machida fifth with 37, Teixeira sixth with 32, and Henderson seventh with 27.

L'il Nog, the man with the clear-cut victory over No. 3 back in February, finished eighth. Of course, that fight remains his only bout in nearly two years, so inactivity clearly isn't helping his cause.

And Chael Sonnen pops into the poll at nine. While Dana White no doubt wants Chael ranked top three everywhere from super heavyweight to atomweight, Sonnen's victory over Mauricio Rua, while impressive, was still his first at light heavyweight since he beat Trevor Prangley back during the days when the Republicans held the White House and both branches of Congress. Meanwhile, we're keeping him eligible at 205 since both he and White indicated an openness to having him fight either there or at middleweight.

(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. At the moment, this does not affect any fighters generally considered in the discussion for a top 10 light heavyweight spot).


1. Jon Jones (18-1, 60 points) -- If I have to explain why Jones is a unanimous No. 1, you should probably be watching a different sport.

2. Alexander Gustafsson (15-1, 45 points) -- Does his resume really merit the No. 2 spot? He'll have his opportunity to prove it next month.

3. Rashad Evans (17-4-1, 42 points) -- Evans had said he wanted a fight with "Shogun" if Rua defeated Sonnen, so it's back to the drawing board for the former champ.

4. Phil Davis (13-1, 1 NC, 39 points) -- Davis is in an odd spot. He's not quite title-shot ready, but he needs a top guy. Machida's taken, Henderson is taken. Would Evans want to rematch him?

5. Lyoto Machida (19-4, 37 points) -- Tim Kennedy at 185 at Fight for the Troops is next for Machida, who looks ready to settle into a Rich Franklin-like role.

6. Glover Teixeira (20-2, 32 points) -- The UFC has said that an impressive win over Ryan Bader would give Glover the next shot at the title. Of course, Machida was also told this at one point, as well.

7. Dan Henderson (29-10, 27 points) -- A rematch with Vitor Belfort at light heavyweight is next on deck for Hendo.

8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (21-5, 23 points) -- Still looking for an opponent after a back injury caused him to pull out of what was originally a UFC 161 bout against Rua.

9. Chael Sonnen (29-13-1, 17 points) -- Who knows, as of now, what's next for Sonnen? What matters is that if you win a fight the way you did against "Shogun," you belong in the Top 10.

10. Gegard Mousasi 34-3-2, 5 points) -- Post knee surgery, Mousasi had said he was considering a move to middleweight. Until that's official, he stays ranked here.

Others receiving votes: Mauricio Rua 2, Ryan Bader 1.