Top Five UFC Heavyweight Title contenders

Shawn SmithCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2008

UFC Top Five Heavyweight contenders

Here is my take on who should be the top five contenders for Nogueira’s world heavyweight title. You may agree or disagree but leave your comments, complaints, or compliments! 


Andrei Arlovsk

I’m not getting why people are saying Werdum should be next in line for a shot at the gold. At UFC 73 he lost to Arlovski via unanimous decision, so why does he deserve a shot at the title first? Granted the match was not overly exciting, a loss is a loss. He is a former champion who, in the last five years, has only lost two fights, both close losses to Tim Sylvia. He has not had a crack at the title since 2006, and deserves a chance to prove himself against Nogueira.

His upcoming fight with youngster Jake O’Brien will prove whether or not he still can produce an exciting fight or if his best days are behind him. It also could be his last fight in the UFC, I’m sure he will be out for the kill.

Match up with Nogueira: Arlovski would no doubt have the advantage on feet. His kickboxing skills would create enough distance to make Nogueira’s striking next to useless. The question would be whether or not Arlovski could keep the fight from going to the ground. If so, he could put Nogueira in a very precarious predicament and would likely defeat him.


Fabricio Werdum

With a big victory over former number one contender Gabriel Gonzaga, Werdum proved his dismal loss to Arlovski was indeed a onetime affair and he is now ready to prove his skills. He had a lot of success in Pride, and is hoping to have similar success in the UFC. His next fight has not yet been announced but many are assuming it will be against the heavyweight champion, Nogueira. Werdum has already suffered a loss to Nogueira in his career via unanimous decision at Critical Countdown Absolute in 2006.

Match up with Nogueira: Both men are known for their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The fighters would not stay on their feet long, and it would come down to which one has the better BJJ skills. Their skills would likely cancel each other out to an extent and comedown to who has the better submissions and submission defence 


Tim Sylvia

Although Sylvia just had an opportunity at the title, his elevated status in the UFC will likely give him another shot before anyone else on this list gets a chance. The first fight against Nogueira was a very close encounter that Sylvia could have secured with one or two more solid punches.

Match up with Nogueira: There isn’t much to breakdown as they just had a bout less than a month ago. It is the typical striker vs Jui-Jitsu match up which comes down to a challenge of style. If he had better takedown defence, it is likely that Sylvia could have kept Nogueira off long enough to edge out a victory.


Frank Mir

A big win over the heavily-hyped (and heavily favoured) Brock Lesnar has thrown Mir back into the heavyweight spotlight. After a few miserable performances, Mir needed this victory badly to keep his job in the UFC. With another top 10 victory Mir could find himself with a shot at the title once again.

Match up with Nogueira: Like the match up against Werdum, Nogueira vs Mir would likely come down to who has the better ground game. Nogueira had much better boxing as well as BJJ so Mir would have to try and catch Nogueira off guard to pick up a victory.

Brandon Vera

Three straight victories against Mir, Silva and Eilers had Vera pegged as the next big thing in the UFC. However, a unanimous decision loss to Sylvia in October has pushed him back down the ladder. Vera now needs another top 10 victory in a hurry before everyone forgets who he is. You might be wondering why I put Mir ahead of Vera, considering Brandon Vera defeated Mir just over a year ago. I put Mir ahead because he won his last fight in less than two minutes against a fighter who was expected to defeat him, and Vera lost his last fight in a rather un-aggressive performance.

Match up with Nogueira: Vera would definitely have to keep this fight standing to have any chance. He depends on a solid standing game to finish his opponents, and I struggle to see how he could stay off his back against a submission expert like Nogueira. 


Honourable Mention

Gabriel Gonzaga

Gabriel Gonzaga may be at a crossroad in his career. After stunning the MMA world by knocking out Cro-Cop with his own signature head kick, he had fans buzzing. Since then, he has had two decent performances; however both resulted in defeats. He now needs to bounce back with a good win. Someone like Brandon Vera or Cheick Kongo would be a good match up for Gonzaga and could help get him back into a title shot.

Cheick Kongo

Like Gonzaga, Kongo shocked many with his unanimous decision against Cro-Cop. Kongo has a great stand up game which kept Cro-Cop at bay throughout their entire fight. Since entering the UFC, Kongo has only been defeated once and that loss was via split decision. Many underestimate his skills, and another victory against a top ten fighter would put him into a title shot.