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UFC Light-Heavyweight division will take shape Saturday

Even though UFC 126 will feature a main event in the Middleweight division, the real shakeup could take place in the organization’s most stacked division.

Before Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort enter the octagon to battle for the middleweight title, the UFC will see four of its best light-heavyweights enter the cage to determine the pecking order in the division.  Long regarded as the most competitive weight class in the UFC, the light-heavyweight division has seen five different champions since 2007.

In what has been a highly anticipated matchup among die-hard UFC fans, two of the divisions most talented and devastating young talents meet to see who will take the next step toward the belt. 

Jon Jones (11-1, 5-1 UFC) has been on the lips of UFC fans since joining the organization back in 2008.  “Bones” Jones has taken care of business in the octagon seeing his only defeat come by way of disqualification after it was decided that elbows he rained on the head of Matt Hamill were illegal.  Since the DQ loss to Hamill, Jones needed just over five minutes to defeat his next two opponents in Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko. 

Standing across the octagon from Jon Jones on Saturday will be an equally impressive young light-heavyweight.   Ryan Bader (12-0, 5-0 UFC) comes into the bout against Jones with an unblemished record and the motivation and talent to prove that he belongs in the title discussion.  

Bader, a former Arizona State wrestler, entered the UFC by way of winning season eight of The Spike TV reality show, The Ultimate Fighter.  The TUF alum has since scored notable victories against Keith Jardine and a hard fought unanimous decision win against Antonio Rogério Nogueira.  Both of these wins propelled Bader to his showdown with Jones in what could determine the next big thing in the light-heavyweight division.

Serving as the co-main event for UFC 126 is an equally intriguing bout between UFC legends.  Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin have both been champions, Franklin as a middleweight and Griffin as a light-heavyweight.   They will meet at 205 pounds on Saturday in a match fans have been asking to see for years.  Both Griffin and Franklin are tireless ambassadors for the UFC and fan favorites in their time with the organization. 

Griffin vs. Franklin should be an entertaining bout, as both fighters have been known to take heaps of punishment in their respective fights.  Griffin hasn’t entered the octagon in more than a year, his last bout coming in November 2009 against Tito Ortiz.  Franklin has been out of commission since breaking his arm in a victory against Chuck Liddell back in June.   Both fighters appear to be healthy and ready to take the next step in their hunt for the belt as well as further cement their legacy in the UFC.

UFC President Dana White has said that after his victory over Lyoto Machida at UFC 123, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is the number one contender in the division and will be the first in line to face the winner of next month’s Rashad Evans vs. Shogun Rua title fight. 

While neither of these two bouts on Saturday will be for the number one contender spot in the division, they will certainly shake up the division and give us the definitive top five light-heavyweights in the UFC.

The Final Point’s Predictions for UFC 126 Main Card

-Antonio Banuelos vs. Miguel Torres

Miguel Torres by Submission

-Ryan Bader vs. Jon Jones

Jon Jones by TKO

-Jake Ellenberger vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha

Jake Ellenberger by Unanimous Decision

-Forrest Griffin vs. Rich Franklin

Forrest Griffin by Unanimous Decision

-Champ Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort (For Middleweight Title)

Anderson Silva by TKO

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