It wasn’t that long ago that the UFC Heavyweight Division was the crown jewel of the organization. So how did it fall apart so quickly?
Former WWE star Brock Lesnar was the champion in just a few short fights, young up-and-comers Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez were shooting up the ranks and Alistair Overeem loomed as a challenger on the horizon.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva would likely have been salivating at the potential match-ups in store.
Fast forward to today and the landscape is drastically different.
Lesnar is back in the world of professional wrestling after a long absence due to his battle with diverticulitis. Velasquez won the title shortly after beating Brock, only to lose his very next fight to Dos Santos despite being a heavy favorite. And Overeem ruined his chances of a title shot with a failed drug test, leaving him in limbo until his suspension is over.
Only JDS emerged unscathed though now he has few capable opponents left in his way.
Next up is Frank Mir, a journeyman fighter who has never been able to get over the championship hump. Mir was only brought in after Alistair was ruled out of the main event fight.
Cain Velasquez hasn’t fought since his loss to the champion and now he must beat Antonio Silva in order to regain some of his lost momentum.
Silva is good enough to hang in the division but will rarely beat the top talent.
The same thing can be said about most of the division. From Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and Shane Carwin to Roy Nelson, the middle of the division is murky at best. It is hard to see where the next wave of challengers will come from.
But there is hope that a few fighters can step up and join the hunt. Travis Browne has an excellent record but hasn’t fought anyone in the title hunt so far. The winner between the Stipe Miocic vs. Shane Del Rosario fight will also have a chance to make a name for themselves.
Despite the barren landscape of fighters, the heavyweight division is one that the fans still enjoy.
Watching two behemoths clash will never get old. Unfortunately, that won’t save us from a weak lineup of No. 1 contenders.
Hopefully, the division can rebound just as quickly as it fell, though, without an infusion of talent, that doesn’t look likely. If that is the case, then expect Junior Dos Santos to reign at the top for a long time.
One can only hope that someone steps up to give Dos Santos a challenge.