UFC Light Heavyweight Fighters
Unlike boxing where the heavyweight class has always produced the most popular fighters it's been the light heavyweight class in MMA that has seen the biggest names and biggest fights. Officially the light heavyweight class has an upper weight limit of 205 with the minimum cutoff being the middleweight limit of 185.
The current UFC light heavyweight champion is Jon Jones who defeated Maricio 'Shogun' Rua in March 2011 to take the title. Jones has the makings of a dominant long term champion due to his power, stamina and well rounded game. He'll make his first defense of the UFC belt later this year against former champion Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. At age 23, Jones will only get better and should be a force in the light heavyweight division for some time to come.
Arguably the most popular fighter in UFC history is former middleweight champion Chuck Liddell. Known as 'The Iceman', Liddell leveraged his unorthodox style and heavy hands to championship status and earned the belt with a victory over another UFC legend, Randy Couture, in 2005. Liddell held the championship for nearly two years and despite being on the downside of his career and for all intents and purposes retired remains one of the biggest names in the sport.
A competing claim to 'most popular fighter in UFC history' can be made by another longtime UFC light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz. Known as 'The Huntington Beach Bad Boy' the arrogant and obnoxious Ortiz is to this day a very polarizing fighter that fans either love or hate. Ortiz is the longest reigning UFC light heavyweight champion in history, holding the belt for 1,260 days during the early 2000's. Ortiz is also on the downside of his career and his declining skills have tempered some of the strong emotions of his fans. He's unexpectedly found himself back in the light heavyweight contender mix after an upset victory over Ryan Bader earlier this year. It was his first win in six fights so the fact that he's now being considered a serious contender for a title fight says more about the lack of competitive depth in the weight class and his ability to sell tickets than it does about his skill level at this point.
Randy Couture recently retired as an active fighter but is another all time great synonymous with the weight class. Couture held the belt on three different occasions and also had a run as the UFC heavyweight champion by defeating Tim Sylvia for the title. Couture remained a viable contender well into his 40's and not surprisingly was one of the best conditioned and tenacious athletes ever to compete at the weight class.
The aforementioned Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson unified the UFC light heavyweight title and the middleweight title from the PRIDE MMA organization in Japan when he defeated Dan Henderson at UFC 75 in London, England. The PRIDE middleweight limits were identical to the US light heavyweight limits with an upper weight of 205 pounds.