Are the Blackzilians ever going to win UFC gold?
As one of the most talent-heavy "super-camps" in mixed martial arts, the successes and failures of the Florida-based team (operated and represented by Authentic Sports Management) have been interesting subjects during the last two years.
Out of that entire talented group, only Ultimate Fighter-winner Michael Johnson happens to be riding a 3-0 winning streak in the UFC this year.
According to MMA Decisions, that streak currently places the young Blackzilians member in an extremely small group with the unlikely Matt Brown, Cub Swanson and Stefan Struve.
But does that mean that Johnson is his team's best hope for the next year?
Sure, the Blackzilians' top fighters have collectively posted a losing record since the inception of the team. At a glance, their win-loss tally actually seems very mediocre.
Here's how the Blackzillans' founders fared since starting the camp in March 2011:
• Rashad Evans: 2 wins, 1 loss
• Jorge Santiago: 2 wins, 2 losses
• Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante: 1 win, 2 losses, 1 no-contest
• Danillo Villefort: 1 win, 1 loss
• Yuri Villefort: 1 loss
Combined record: 6 wins, 7 losses, 1 no-contest
Other Blackzilians haven't been much more effective, save a few notable standouts. As it stands, the biggest thing swaying the numbers is the fact that most new members of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center haven't actually competed since they joined the team.
For added context, here's how other Blackzilians have performed since signing up:
• Vitor Belfort: August 2012; 1 loss
• Michael Johnson: Summer 2012 (after UFC on FOX 3); 1 win
• Melvin Guillard: January 2012; 1 win, 2 losses
• Eddie Alvarez: January 2012; 1 win
• Miguel Torres: January 2012; 1 loss
• Anthony Johnson: Early 2011 (after UFC Fight Night 24); 4 wins, 1 loss
Combined record: 8 wins, 5 losses
But as usual, numbers never tell the whole story, and this group is simply far too new to be judged by the last couple of years as a team.
During the rest of the year and before the end of 2013, the UFC will see the return of several Blackzilians such as Alistair Overeem, Thiago Silva, Siyar Bahadurzada, Claude Patrick and Matt Mitrione.
To suggest that the team's biggest success rides on Michael Johnson isn't fair to the still-evolving lightweight, especially since he came within inches of losing to Danny Castillo.
Looking at it critically, Alistair Overeem will likely bring the most success to the Blackzilians, provided he is able to regain a license and rejoin the heavyweight title hunt.
Who's the Blackzilians' best hope?
By far, Overeem and Rashad Evans should be considered the Blackzilians' best chances for winning a UFC championship. Not only are they two of the most dangerous fighters in their respective divisions, but they're also the two members of the team closest to title shots.
UFC welterweight Siyar Bahadurzada shouldn't be overlooked either, as he'll return from injury amid a seven-fight winning streak.
(Author's Note: As pointed out in the comments, Canadian light heavyweight Ryan Jimmo could also be a title contender in 2013 with enough solid wins.)
Plus, if Anthony Johnson gets his weight issues under control, settles in at light heavyweight and makes his way back into the UFC's good graces, the entire division should be on notice.
Michael Johnson is definitely improving. If he's brought along with sensible matchmaking, his youth and athleticism will help him rise through the lightweight ranks at a steady pace. But let's not suggest that the entire hopes of the Blackzilians are riding on his shoulders alone.