Ever since Tito Ortiz and Frank Shamrock wowed the crowd over then UFC Middleweight title, the 205 pound division has always seemed to be the frontrunner as the marquee division. Boasting colorful characters such as Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva, Quinton Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, Ricardo Arona and the list goes on. It seemed that any time the title was on the line whether it be in the now defunct PRIDE or in the UFC, it brought out the fans in droves. However, looking at the current state of the light heavyweight division, I have to say that it has lost a ton of it's luster over the past couple of years. As MMA has popularized, some of it's most valuable players' shine has dimmed tremendously, either due to age (Chuck Liddell), size (Wanderlei Silva\Vitor Belfort), motivation (Rampage Jackson), and injury (Tito Ortiz). As for the new crop of 205-ers they've come in different shapes and sized but have yet to truly take the torch and run with it. Guys like Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Muhammad Lawal, and Gegard Mousasi certainly have the skillset, if not more, than their predecessors (I know Griffin and Rashad have been doing this for a long time but have only gained recognition since TUF) but lack the look, style, or it-factor the fighters of yesteryear boasted. However, guys like Lyoto Machida, Phil Davis and Jon Jones have added just enough flare and ferocity to reignite what in my eyes is a division lacking the fire it once had.
Just look at the other divisions:
- The Heavyweight division is probably at it's most exciting and most competitive state since the early PRIDE days.
- The Middleweight division holds the best pound for pound fighter in MMA as well as an assortment of guys putting together wins and strategies to possibly dethrone him. Plus Anderson Silva has the advantage of fighting at different weights but still keeps the middleweight division his home.
- The Welterweight division, even with a champion as dominant as Georges St. Pierre, is probably one of the most stacked divisions when it comes to talent and a pool of guys that on any day could put on an exciting fight and there's enough characters (Josh Koscheck, Dan Hardy, Diego Sanchez, Matt Serra, Matt Hughes, Anthony Johnson, Thiago Alves, Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann) to keep it fresh for years to come.
- The Lightweight division is easily the most exciting division. The lighter guys have proven over and over again that they are willing to go out there and throw them thangs with no hesitation.
With that said, what say you? Has the Light Heavyweight division's luster declined throughout the past few years or is it still shining as bright or even brighter than ever?