Each Current UFC Champ's Biggest Weakness and How to Expose It
Nobody is unbeatable.
The UFC is littered with some of the most dominant champions in the sport's history right now, but each and every one of these divisional kings is one slip-up away from a cracked and worthless crown.
For some, the path to defeat has already been revealed, while other champions have scarcely been in a bad position—a testament to their sheer dominance inside the Octagon.
Let us take a look at each champ and evaluate what it will take to end his reign and establish a new order in the divisional rankings.
Newly minted flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is a tough matchup for anybody thanks to his incredible speed and well-rounded game.
That said, "Mighty Mouse" has lost two decisions in his professional career, and he nearly lost a third to Ian McCall in March 2012. In that matchup, McCall laid the groundwork to defeating Johnson.
You have to take him down, put him on his back and keep him there. Johnson does not fight well off his back, and he is not the strongest flyweight, so he has problems dealing with a powerful grappler who establishes top control.
McCall owned Johnson in the third round of their first meeting, and future title challengers need to dissect that round and figure out how to implement some of "Uncle Creepy's" tactics in their own game plan.
Easier said than done, I know.
Dominick "The Dominator" Cruz has been out of action for so long, I almost forget what his style looks like inside the Octagon.
The bantamweight champion has not competed since an October 2011 victory over Demetrious Johnson, and for that I expect him to be a little rusty in his next UFC appearance.
This will be his first problem, but counting on an opponent to be rusty is never the focal point of any decent game plan. Instead, to defeat Cruz, your counter punching has to be crisp and powerful.
Despite losing a unanimous decision to Cruz at UFC 132, perennial 135-pound challenger Urijah Faber fared very well against the champ, and his success was in large part due to his power advantage.
Faber rocked Cruz several times, and the key to defeating Cruz is to catch him with a hard shot, but then follow it up with some ground and pound or some dominating top control. Faber failed to do this, and Cruz managed to recover, bounce back and re-establish his rhythm.
You cannot allow Cruz to bebop around and pick his shots; he is one of the best in the business when he is in control.
Call me crazy, but I think Jose Aldo is the most difficult fighter to game plan against in the UFC.
He can either overwhelm you with powerful strikes or keep his distance and pick you apart, he has amazing takedown defense, and, of course, he has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Many people compare "Scarface" to middleweight champion Anderson Silva because of these skills, but the fact of the matter is Aldo's takedown defense is better than Silva's, and that makes him an even harder foe to handle.
As I mentioned in the first slide, however, nobody is unbeatable, and Aldo is no exception. Yes, his striking is phenomenal, but we have seen him struggle to find a finish and a dominating groove in title defenses against Urijah Faber, Mark Hominick and Kenny Florian.
In these bouts, Aldo was impressive and clearly the victor, but he did not exude the overwhelming dominance we have seen him display on other occasions.
They key to victory against the 145-pound champ is to avoid his heavy shots and force him into a clinch game. If there was a featherweight Randy Couture, he would fare well against Aldo. The fighter who pushes Aldo against the cage, utilizes dirty boxing and drags him to the ground will be the man who defeats him.
Frankie Edgar might be the man for the job, and with his unrelenting will and warrior's heart, I see him as the biggest threat to Aldo's belt.
Whoops, sorry! I got a little ahead of myself here.
I do not want to be "that" guy to say this, but we have already seen Benson Henderson lose his lightweight title—the judges just forgot to pick up their prescription at LensCrafters that morning.
Henderson is the jack of all trades and master of none, and for that he is a solid opponent for anybody at 155. However, that also means he is the champion most likely to lose his belt, as there are a variety of ways one can find success.
At the top of this list is an aggressive striking game that pushes him back and forces him to become a counter striker. We saw Anthony Pettis use this game plan against him in the WEC to steal his belt, and we will see Nate Diaz use it again in December.
Benson Henderson is a tough dude, but he likes to be the bully in fights and struggles when he is being bullied, so the key is to stay in his face, avoid his takedown attempts and pressure him constantly.
Edgar executed this strategy wonderfully at UFC 150, now we just need some judges that reward the true victor.
Georges St. Pierre
Unless Georges St. Pierre's knee is a major hindrance in his future fights, I do not see him losing anytime soon.
The fact of the matter is that "Rush" has the perfect style to win fights in MMA, and he gets better and better every time he steps inside the UFC Octagon. He is a consummate professional, and he is always prepared for his battles.
Georges' biggest weakness that we can spot, however, is his chin, and I do not even feel right putting that one out there. He got clipped once behind the ear against Matt Serra, and literally nobody walks away from that punch unscathed.
We have seen it many times throughout UFC history: if you get clipped behind the ear, you are going down. That does not mean you have a weak chin; that means you are a human being with a working equilibrium.
Still, the best way to defeat GSP is to overwhelm him with strikes. Like Benson Henderson, GSP excels when he has dominating control in fights, so if somebody can turn the tables on him, become the aggressor and stay in his face, he will win (or get taken down...probably the latter).
It's bad news for welterweight challengers, but in a fight against GSP, you essentially have a puncher's chance.
As if you do not already know this one...
I'll just leave this here.
Do that, but don't get caught!
It's funny how one fight makes you reconsider a fighter's dominance.
Prior to nearly being submitted by Vitor Belfort at UFC 152, I legitimately could not imagine a scenario where Jon Jones was in trouble. Anything but a lucky knockout punch seemed downright absurd, but after seeing Belfort come within millimeters of capturing the title, I am not too sure about that anymore.
Jones is a world-class athlete and undoubtedly one of the greatest fighters in the world, but Belfort exposed a chink in his previously impenetrable armor.
Is Jones' submission defense lackluster, or was it a fluke near-submission?
Jones' jiu-jitsu game is still young when compared to other fighters who have been practicing the art their entire lives, so it is not a stretch to think he would struggle in a battle of technical ground skills.
Taking this a step further, I can only imagine these problems are compounded when the champion is on his back.
Wrapping it all together, the best way to defeat Jon Jones is to put him on his back and work your top game in hopes of exposing his submission defense once again.
But seriously, who is going to put him on his back?
Junior Dos Santos
No current champion has been as dominant as Junior dos Santos.
Go ahead and blast me in the comments, but think about it. When has he been in trouble inside the Octagon?
"Cigano" has looked nothing but stellar during his UFC tenure, so talking about his "weak point" is literally impossible. He has never shown any weaknesses—his striking his the best in the heavyweight division, his takedown defense has been unmatched and his power is unrivaled.
When talking about a game plan to defeat Junior dos Santos, one has to play the game of assumptions. We know dos Santos' sole career loss came via submission, so one can assume his submission defense is his weakest area.
Getting him to the ground, however, has proved impossible, and one has to think his submission defense has come a long way since that November 2007 loss.
Still, one would feel a little nervous for dos Santos if somebody like Frank Mir or Daniel Cormier took him to the mat, and I see this as being the best course of action against the heavyweight champion.
Put him on his back, and see what he has. He will probably pop back up or surprise us with a solid ground game, but what else can we think at this point?
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