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Fantasy Light Heavy Tournament


With the brief lull in MMA action, what better time to get the crazy debates going with some fantasy tournaments in each of the weight divisions.  We will be looking to crown "The Don’s Fantasy Champions” in seven weight classes.  While we know that the UFC will never go back to a tournament format or co-promote with any other organization, our minds and keyboards are not bound by such politics.


Over the next seven days we will look at each weight division and hold 8 man fantasy tournaments in each class.  We will seed the fighters one through eight in a bracket formula and look at who will win each fight and why. 

These types of predictions/projections usually spark great debates among the MMA fans.  First of all it’s difficult to decide which eight fighters will participate and then choosing winners really causes the fun and debates begin…  so bring it on!!!

The seedings are based primarily on rankings from our good friends at with a few minor variations in several weight classes.


The quarter- and semi-final bouts would be three rounds with the final bout being a five round affair.  The seedings are in parenthesis below.


Today we will look at the Light Heavyweight division and the seedings/match-ups are as follows:


(1) Mauricio "Shogun” Rua  vs.  (8) Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

(4) Quinton Jackson  vs.  (5) Gegard Mousasi

(3) Rashad Evans vs.  (6) Ryan Bader

(2) Lyoto Machida  vs.  (7) Jon Jones


Round 1 Match-ups:


Rua vs. Nogueira – Another rematch from the Pride days and their 2005 classic which was won by Rua.  This one would not be as close; Shogun seems to have regained his top form while Nogueira seems to have lost a step and at times looks older than his years.  While Little Nog remains a dangerous striker with good jiu-jitsu, the all out aggression and overwhelming skills from Shogun would make this a short night for Nogueira.  The experience factor would carry Little Nog through round one but Rua finds his range in round two and finishes via TKO.


Rua over Nogueira by TKO in round two.


Jackson vs. Mousasi -- The lone non-UFC fighter in this tournament in Mousasi battles the former champion Jackson in a good opening round tilt.  Mousasi had difficulty with the takedowns and wrestling in his loss to King Mo Lawal but Jackson has gotten away from his wrestling roots and is content to decide fights on his feet.  This strategy will play right into the hands of Mousasi who will use his long reach and angles to frustrate Rampage throughout.  By the time Rampage decides to utilize his wrestling Mousasi will have gained a large edge on the scorecards and worn down Jackson to make his ground and pound less effective.  A slight upset with Mousasi taking a unanimous decision.


Mousasi over Jackson by unanimous decision.


Evans vs. Bader – Two fighters with mirror image styles collide in this opening round contest.  Both are explosive wrestlers with solid stand-up and knockout power.  Evans has polished his game a little more during his many high profile encounters in the UFC. Bader may have the greater wrestling credentials but Evans has honed his wrestling skills at some of the top camps in the world.  This bout would be hotly contested but Evans would have a slight advantage in all areas and grind out a close but unanimous decision over Bader.


Evans over Bader by unanimous decision.


Machida vs. Jones -- After his title victory over Evans many were anointing Machida as the next big thing and potential long time light heavyweight champion.  A controversial decision win over Shogun Rua followed by a convincing knockout loss to Rua in the rematch has taken away some of the luster from Machida.  Machida owns an elusive and tactical attack style while the up and coming Jones is a dynamic wrestler with a long reach and some of the most athletic moves in all of MMA.  Machida’s movement and awkward striking style could give Jones trouble in the early going but it would only be a matter of time until Jones would connect with something dynamic that would put Machida into trouble and give Jones the chance for the big finish which he most certainly has learned to do effectively.  This one goes into the second half of the fight but Jones eventually takes over and earns a third round stoppage of the former champ.


Jones over Machida by TKO in round three.



Second round match-ups:


Rua vs. Mousasi -- A good match-up for those looking for good action but also excellent technique.  Mousasi is likely the more technical in the stand-up game but don’t let the aggression from Rua fool you; he is a very technically sound fighter as well.  The difference will come on the ground where Shogun will be able to impose his will from top position while avoiding any submission or pass attempts from Mousasi off his back.  There will be some exciting moments on the feet and on the ground but more damage will be done by Rua as he works his way to a hard fought unanimous decision over a game Mousasi.


Rua over Mousasi by unanimous decision.


Evans vs. Jones -- The controlled well executed game plan from Evans goes against the all out dynamic game of Jones.  Can anyone devise a game plan to combat the kind of skills that Jones brings to the cage?  These two men have been training partners recently and would have a good idea what the other can or can’t do inside the cage.  Evans would surely control the early action but how long can Jones be contained will be the big question.  In a three round fight at this point in their careers, Evans will have a good chance to control enough of the action to sway the judges in his direction.  We will go with Evans in a very close decision at this point but in a few years it will be Jones riding atop the light heavyweight heap.


Evans over Jones by unanimous decision.





Mauricio "Shogun” Rua vs. Rashad Evans – Once again, a bout that is likely on our future radar when Shogun returns from injury.  The controlled aggression from Rua meets up with the tactical approach from Evans.  Shogun has the fighting style that should be able to lure Evans into a firefight which is right up Rua’s alley.  While Machida and Shogun are polar opposites they do possess the unique ability to draw opponents in to their style of fighting and then move in for the finish.  Look for Rua to have some early difficulty with the movement and wrestling from Evans but then when Shogun works Evans into violent exchanges, the tide turns in favor of Rua who works his magic once again and actually finishes Evans as we get into the championship rounds.


Rua over Evans by TKO in round four to win The Don’s Fantasy Light Heavyweight Title.


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