MMA: Top 10 Heavyweight Rankings (Part 2 of 5)

Derek BolenderSenior Analyst IMarch 11, 2008

This is part two of a five-part series examining each of the most common weight classes including lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight.  See how your favorite fighters will rank and offer your own opinions.  Let the debate begin.

Heavyweight Rankings – 265 lbs. 

1) Fedor Emelianenko (M-1 Global) – (28 – 1 MMA record, 1 no contest) Former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion

Fedor remains the gold standard of the heavyweight class in all of MMA.  He has dominated the heavyweight circuit in RINGS and PRIDE since 2000 including notable wins over Mirko Cro Cop, Ricardo Arona, Heath Herring, Matt Lindland, Mark Coleman twice, Kevin Randleman, and current Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice. 

Fedor is arguably the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world still to this day.  One could argue that Fedor should be No. 2 behind Nogueira, however, Fedor has handled Nogueira convincingly on two seperate occasions. 

A potential match-up with Randy Couture could be Fedor’s next fight.  If this fight takes place, it will give Fedor a chance to silence his critics once and for all.  Expect this fight to happen within the next six months and for Fedor to come out victorious.   

2) Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC) – (31 – 4 – 1, 1 no contest) Former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion and Current UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion

Nogueira, arguably, has the most impressive resume on this list with victories over Dan Henderson, Heath Herring (three times), Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop, Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett, and Ricco Rodriguez.

Nogueira’s skills on the ground are second to none and 19 of his 31 victories have come via submission.  The only stain on his resume, as previously mentioned, are two defeats at the hands of Fedor.

3) Randy Couture (UFC) – (16 – 8) Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and Current UFC Heavyweight Champion

Couture is arguably the UFC’s most popular fighter ever along with Chuck Liddell.  He is a UFC Hall of Famer and a hero to many for the way he came out of retirement at the age of 43 and defeated Tim Sylvia to win the UFC Heavyweight Title. 

Currently, Couture, 44, is still one of the most skilled heavyweights in the world.  He is a world-class wrestler and master in the clinch.  A potential match-up against Fedor has MMA fans around the world waiting anxiously for an announcement.   

4) Tim Sylvia (UFC) – (24 – 4) Former UFC Heavyweight Champion

In my opinion, Sylvia has one of the most underrated fighters in the world the past few years.  He has lost two of his last three fights against Couture and Nogueira and is vulnerable once he is on the ground. 

The majority of his fights stay on their feet and he has a distinct advantage with his height and his reach against most heavyweights.  His notable wins include Andrei Arlovski (twice), Brandon Vera, and Ricco Rodriguez.  He is currently seeking a contract extension with the UFC.

5) Josh Barnett (Free Agent) – (21- 5) Former UFC Heavyweight Champion (belt was stripped due to failed drug test)

Barnett has 26 professional fights under his belt and he is only 30 years old.  Most recently, he fought for World Victory Road in Tokyo and defeated Hidehiko Yoshida via heel hook submission in the third round.  He has accumulated victories over Randy Couture, Aleksander Emelianenko, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in his career

6) Mirko Cro Cop (DREAM) – (22 – 6 – 2)

Cro Cop struggled in the UFC most notably because of his unfamiliarity with the Octagon after fighting his entire career in the rings of Pride.  He is scheduled to fight Yoshihiro Nakao on 3/15/08 and is coming off back-to-back losses to Cheick Kongo and Gabriel Gonzaga. 

Cro Cop, now removed from the UFC spotlight, should go back to his winning ways.  He has been one of the best heavyweights over the past eight years including victories over Wanderlei Silva, Josh Barnett (three times), Heath Herring, etc…  I would still take Cro Cop at his best against any fighter listed below due to his K-1 striking ability on his feet.

7) Andrei Arlovski (UFC) – (13 – 5) Former UFC Heavyweight Champion

Arlovski currently has no fights left on his UFC contract and we may have seen the last of him in the UFC altogether.  Arlovski has been one of the best UFC heavyweights over the past few years.

His two most notable wins have been over Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum.  Arlovski still holds a great deal of talent at this point in his career and is a devastating striker on his feet.  He is one of the more athletic heavyweights in the world and whoever signs Arlovski is getting an immense talent.

8) Fabricio Werdum (UFC) – (10 – 3 – 1)

Werdum has been steadily climbing the heavyweight ranks in the UFC.  His recent domination over Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 80 has many fans taking notice.  In that fight, he displayed well-rounded skills on his feet to go with his known Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills on the ground. 

He could be a dangerous opponent in the future and is scheduled to fight Brandon Vera at UFC 85 with the winner moving up another rung in the UFC heavyweight ladder.

9) Brandon Vera (UFC) – (8 – 1)

Vera is an up-and-coming talent in the UFC and has the potential to be a title contender at heavyweight or light heavyweight.  He is still only 30 years old.  He is coming off his first MMA loss at the hands of Tim Sylvia. 

Sylvia’s overall size and reach advantage was overwhelming for Vera who fights around 225 pounds on a regular basis.  He may be better suited for the light heavyweight division at 205 pounds.  As previously mentioned, he will square off with Fabricio Werdum at UFC 85.

10) Frank Mir (UFC) – (11 – 3) Former UFC Heavyweight Champion

Mir is essentially the only heavyweight I have not mentioned that is actually moving upwards with his fight career at the moment. 

Cheick Kongo is coming off a disappointing loss to Heath Herring. Heath Herring is just 2 – 2 in his last four fights and has 13 losses overall.  Gabriel Gonzaga is coming off two straight losses and is being dubbed the “one-kick wonder” for his famous knockout over Mirko Cro Cop.    

Mir, on the other hand, is coming off two straight victories including a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clinic over the much hyped Brock Lesnar at UFC 81. 

Mir is finally fully healthy after suffering from a motorcycle accident that led him to vacate the UFC heavyweight championship belt after he earned an impressive victory over Tim Sylvia.   

Random Thoughts:

- Fedor/Couture needs to happen and soon.

- Why on earth did the Cro Cop/UFC experiment go so wrong?

- Nogueira amazes me with each fight.  He always seems to get the worse end of the stand up game, his face is bloodied and swollen, but as soon as the fight goes to the ground he is far superior than any other heavyweight and he is constantly submitting world class fighters .

- Within the next year Brock Lesnar will be knocking the door of this list.  He is too big and too athletic. 

- The Brock Lesnar/Mark Coleman fight at UFC 87 in Minneapolis, MN will not get past the first round.  Lesnar should overpower Coleman with his pure strength and ground and pound himself to victory.

- Antonio Silva of Elite XC is a guy to keep an eye on.  He is an athletic 265 pound fighter who sports a record of 10 – 1 in MMA and he is only 28 years old and getting better.

- Brandon Vera would have a better shot at a belt in the light heavyweight division.


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