Wednesday, December 11, 2013

UFC Heavyweight Division Rundown

Current Champion: Cain Velasquez(2 title defenses)
  • def. Antonio Silva at UFC 160
  • def. Junior dos Santos at UFC 166
The UFC's heavyweight division has always been filled with unpredictability, highlight reel knockouts, and interesting characters. Cain Velasquez is the current champion with title defenses against Anotnio "Bigfoot" Silva and Junior dos Santos. He first won the title against Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 but quickly lost his next title defense to hard-hitting Brazilian boxer Junior dos Santos via a quick 1st-round knockout. Following that, he demolished Silva in a bloody battle and earned a rematch against dos Santos at UFC 155, where he won a five-round fight in very convincing fashion. He then challenged Silva again at UFC 160 where he won via 2nd round TKO. dos Santos earned a rematch against Velasquez following his UFC 160 highlight-reel headkick knockout of Mark Hunt, setting up arguably the most anticipated grudge match in UFC history. Velasquez won the fight via 5th round TKO in dominating fashion.

In my eyes, Velasquez and dos Santos are head and shoulders above the rest of the division. However, there's some interesting fighters in the division. Let's take a look at the rankings:

Champion: Cain Velasquez
#1: Junior dos Santos
#2: Fabricio Werdum
#3: Daniel Cormier
#4: Antonio Silva
#5: Travis Browne#6 Josh Barnett
#7: Alistair Overeem
#8: Mark Hunt
#9: Frank Mir
#10: Stipe Miocic

The next in line for a title shot following Velasquez's victory over dos Santos is Fabricio Werdum, who is coming off a submission victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira. He poses an interesting threat in the clinch and on the mat, but I believe Velasquez's wrestling will be too much for him to handle.

Daniel Cormier is coming off a victory over Roy Nelson, but is headed to Light Heavyweight to avoid fighting his AKA teammate Velasquez for the belt.

Travis Browne and Josh Barnett meet in a heavyweight clash at UFC 168. Browne is coming off a big win over Alistair Overeem and Barnett just finished former champion Frank Mir. This fight will likely determine the next contender for the belt. I like Browne in this fight solely because of his striking prowess and his age, though Barnett could easily win that fight.

Mark Hunt and Bigfoot Silva just had a war at UFC Fight Night 33 in Brisbane, considered by many to be the fight of the year. The fight was a majority draw, and Hunt broke his hand in two places and is out for at least six months. Silva escaped with no major injuries and should be back in action in April/May, perhaps against the loser of Barnett/Browne or a bout with dos Santos, who has nothing announced after his grudge match loss against Velasquez.

Alistair Overeem, a former K-1 world kickboxing champion, faces Frank Mir at UFC 169 in what's being dubbed a "loser leaves town" match. Mir has lost three in a row to dos Santos, Cormier, and Barnett. Overeem has lost two in a row to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne. The loser of this fight will almost certainly be cut from the UFC.

Rounding out the top 10 of the heavyweight division is exciting yet somewhat unknown wrestler Stipe Miocic, who is coming off a big win over Roy Nelson at UFC 160, a fight he entered as a huge underdog. He fights Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC on Fox 10.

The UFC's heavyweight division is thin and has little to no depth in terms of future challengers to Velasquez, which is why I believe Velasquez will hold the belt for a long time. Of course, the heavyweight division is very unpredictable and known for quick belt turnarounds, so anything can happen.

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