Light Heavyweight 9-9-08

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  1. Forrest Griffin

Yes, #1 — but the ranking is very tenuous, obviously. No other 205-pounder can claim to have knocked off two top-5 fighters back-to-back, which is why Griffin’s on top. The bad news is, he’s got a horde of guys at his heels with the tools to beat him. Griffin’s next fight against Rashad Evans could realistically go either way, and the Brazilian light-heavyweight death-trio of Lyoto Machida, Wanderlei Silva and Thiago Silva would all create big problems for the original Ultimate Fighter.

2. Lyoto Machida

The recurring criticism of Lyoto Machida as a boring, even cowardly fighter displays a prejudice about “what a mixed martial artist should be” that we simply don’t agree with. Machida is the first fighter we’ve seen who focuses more on defense than offense, and in doing so, completely demoralizes his opponents. He’ll need to start finishing fights before he’s recognized as a star by casual fans, but to us, watching his flawless technique in action is anything but dull.

3. Quinton Jackson

4. Mauricio Rua

5. Chuck Liddell

The five spot definitely feels a bit too high for Chuck Liddell, who has now suffered three losses in his last four fights. But should he be ranked below Rashad Evans, who’s only defeated one top-ten fighter in his career — even if it was Chuck himself? Meanwhile, Wanderlei Silva has the same 1-3 record in his last four fights, and Thiago Silva’s biggest career victory was Houston Alexander. We’ll let Chuck hang in the top five for a little longer due to past accomplishments, but this is his final warning.

6. Wanderlei Silva

Since Keith Jardine had already shown that his weakness was aggressive brawlers who come out like a house on fire, Wanderlei Silva’s knockout victory over “The Dean of Mean” at UFC 84 didn’t really prove much. Silva’s accomplishments speak for themselves. But we’re still waiting to see how the Axe Murderer does against some of the UFC’s other top dogs before jumping back on the Wandy War Wagon.

7. Rashad Evans

Welcome to the top ten, Sugar. You’ve earned it.

8. Thiago Silva

We’d love to put Thiago above Rashad — with 12 stoppages before the third round in 13 fights, he’s one scary (and entertaining) motherfucker. But Silva has yet to beat a top ten light-heavyweight. Hopefully his recent injury doesn’t eliminate the chance of a match between him and Lyoto Machida by the end of the year.

9. Keith Jardine

10. Vladimir Matyushenko

See previous rankings (published June 12, 2008)