Light heavyweight has become the division to watch. For the longest time, light heavyweight was considered the weakest division in the UFC. But, now that Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier are gone, it is wide open. With tons of fresh blood, the division has some of the best drama to offer. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this either, even recently. Let’s dive in.
Divisions with long-reigning champions are some of the most “boring” while the champion reigns. Think about the reigns of Demetrious Johnson, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. They cleaned out their divisions. While they were champions, people lamented on how stale and boring the division has become. But, history shows us that this changes once the champion is dethroned or leaves for greener pastures.
Anderson Silva’s Dominance
The middleweight division was incredibly boring when Anderson Silva was the king. He cleaned everything out and beat all contenders up until Chris Weidman landed the shot heard round the world. Silva was hardly ever in trouble during his reign with the exception of the first fight with Uncle Chael. Once Silva was dethroned, we saw the division open up. Since then, the title has changed hands seven times. Weidman lost to Rockhold. Rockhold was shocked by Michael Bisping on 2 weeks notice. Bisping lost to Georges St-Pierre in one of the greatest moments in the sport’s history. Then Robert Whittaker won the vacant belt and delivered two insane fights with Yoel Romero. And then of course, Israel Adesanya won the belt and has been nothing short of spectacular.
This isn’t knocking Silva’s reign, we’ve seen amazing performances from him during his championship days like the Vitor Belfort knockout, the Chael Sonnen triangle hail mary. But fans like the drama and new looks. We’ve seen this more recently in a different division.
Demetrious Johnson Almost Killed A Division
The flyweights were almost gone from the UFC. Demetrious Johnson dominated for years, breaking Silva’s title reign. The division was dead. It was so bad that even when Mighty Mouse was dethroned by Henry Cejudo, it wasn’t immediately resuscitated. It took Cejudo’s cringe persona and the blitzing of the bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw, who turned out to be on EPO. The division was alive, even though Cejudo left. The UFC had a renewed commitment to the flyweights and restructured the division. They cut a bunch of fighters that were “boring” in the crowd’s eyes and signed a bunch of knockout producing fighters like Tyson Nam, Brandon Royval, Deiveson Figueiredo, and more. Flyweight is alive now that Demetrious Johnson is away and, again, there’s drama and excitement surrounding the division.
Jan Blachowicz Ushering in a New Era at Light Heavyweight
Light heavyweights have suffered the same issue middleweight and flyweight have in the past. The reign of Jon Jones exasperated any contender in the division and, while the UFC has done a good job in adding contenders to the division to have Jones feast on, he has vacated the belt for a stint at heavyweight. Now that Jan Blachowicz captured the belt at UFC 253, there are a slew of contenders that are exciting matchups for the Polish Powerhouse.
Thiago Santos is the first name that comes to mind. He and Glover Texiera are set to scrap on UFC 254 after being postponed twice. The winner of that fight gets the next shot at the title and Santos is especially interesting because he is the last man to best Blachowicz. But should Glover win, the long time UFC vet would have a good shot at winning the title.
Then there’s the up-and-comers. Aleksandr Rakic, Jiri Prochazka, Magomed Ankalev and even Johnny Walker pose a shot at making a run for the title. It’s hard to be as dominant as Jon Jones was and with so much young blood coming up, it will be hard for Blachowicz to hold on to the belt. Not impossible, but extremely hard. Blachowicz will be given that shot to prove his greatness. He just needs to execute.