The UFC Heavyweight division used to be shallow, slow, and above all, boring. It was mostly a collection of slow, semi-skilled dudes who loved not finishing fights. You know the division sucks when your two most notable champs have been Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia.
Since being released, Arlovski has been mediocre at best, and Tim Sylvia has been KO'd in under one round in consecutive fights. However, the division has taken a turn for the better lately, with smaller, more athletic fighters suiting up at heavyweight.
This heavyweight lineup has made a strong case as the most exciting in a very long while. HONORABLE MENTION: Todd Duffee, Roy Nelson, Paul Buentello, and Mirko Cro-Cop. Now, on to the main event.
Pat Barry is a former professional kickboxer who has quietly made the transition to MMA. Since starting MMA, he has lost only once in six fights, with all five of his wins coming by T/KO. Pat Barry is known for being the owner of some beastial leg kicks, which is probably a result of being a former professional kickboxer.
He is relatively young, at thirty years old, and could make a big splash in his division. As of yet, he has only shown his ground capability a few times, and one time was submitted. Barry is considered by one person (and it's not me) to be a top 10 striker.
I think he should be fed someone who will test him, a guy like Cheick Kongo or Todd Duffee. However, he must first get through Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 115.
Stefan Struve was a nice find for this division. Known for his tall frame (6'11") and his slick submissions game, Struve has quietly made a name for himself in the UFC.
After losing his debut against fellow up-and-comer Junior dos Santos, Struve has compiled three straight wins, two by submission, and one via Majority Decision.
As of now, Struve would lose a title shot, but in a year or two, with some experience behind his 22 year old self, he may become the title holder. His next fight is against Roy Nelson at UFN 21.
My, how the sky has fallen in on Cheick Kongo. Once considered to be a lead contender for the belt, now he is quickly falling down to gatekeeper status. Coming off of two straight losses to top contenders Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir, which may make his placement this low a little bit harsh.
However, while looking fairly decent against Velasquez, he got thoroughly dominated by Frank Mir. He wasted no time in losing, getting caught by a big punch within the first minute, then passing out inside of Mir's very tight guillotine choke.
After a performance like that, Kongo should have been given a matchup with Pat Barry or Todd Duffee, but instead Joe Silva gave him a matchup against the very game Paul Buentello. Buentello possesses the skills to put Kongo to sleep, and also has the deficiencies to get Kongo back on track.
Cheick Kongo is easily one of the best heavyweight strikers, and is easily in the top 20 in the UFC. He is too valuable for the UFC to release, as Strikeforce would pick him up immediately, so Kongo is in the same situation as fellow gatekeeper Keith Jardine. They both need to start winning now. Cheick Kongo will be facing Paul Buentello next.
This may seem a little low for him, but everyone who is ahead of him on the list have all beaten better competition, excluding Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar. Junior Dos Santos is easily one of the best strikers in the division, a fact that shouldn't have to be considered after all of his fights have ended by T/KO or Submission (Punches).
He trains with arguably the best fight team in MMA, the famed Black House, where stars such as Jose Aldo, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Anderson Silva also train. He always comes into his fights with a good gameplan, and always executes with perfection, especially in his fight with heavy-handed and questionable-moraled Gilbert Yvel.
JDS is a star waiting to happen, and at only 26, has at least two years before he should even worry, if that means anything. The top of the division is very cluttered up, with at least three people who could challenge for the belt right now without very many people bitching about it. JDS will fight against fellow Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC On Versus One.
Gabriel Gonzaga is yet another talented heavyweight, one with a ferocious striking game and a good ground game. His experience is probably second only to Frank Mir within the division, and his poise inside the octagon shows it.
Most of us should remember him as the guy who put the fear back into Mirko Cro Cop, all with one very well placed right high kick, which is what Cro Cop was famous for. Since then, Gonzaga has only lost twice. A win over JDS in his next fight would most likely propel him into title talks, and with another win he would likely get a shot at the belt holder.
Gonzaga is a tough matchup for anyone in the division and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
Antonio Nogueira, or sometimes more affectionately known as Big Nog, was not long ago (about one week ago, to be precise) being considered for a title shot. All he had to do was get his ass handed to him for two rounds and pull off a crazy submission in the third.
Someone forgot to tell Cain Velasquez. Velasquez KO'd Big Nog in 2:20 of the first round, and cemented his status as top contender after the winner of Carwin vs. Mir gets their chance. But what happens with Big Nog?
Well, he has been here before. He will probably face the loser of Mir vs. Carwin, and both Shane Carwin and Frank Mir pose a big threat to Big Nog. Big Nog has a decent striking game, but his real talent lies in submissions. A good tactic against both Carwin and Mir is to get the fight to the ground quickly, and try to pull out a submission.
Big Nog, in my opinion, is the best submission fighter in the UFC. Nog is one of the last remnants of the old order. The slow, lumbering fighters. We've already been over that. He may have one title run left in him, and if he does, he needs to get to work on it right now.
Shane Carwin, before the emergence of Cain Velasquez, was thought of by many to be the champion in waiting. And why shouldn't he have been? His size is very close to that of Lesnar (6'3", 265 lbs). He boasts one of the most powerful punches in all of MMA, and he was a dominant amateur wrestler.
The dude has never been past the halfway point of the first round. Let's let that sink in. And, his submissions are fairly decent as well. If you think he has no chance against Brock Lesnar, you are smoking some pretty powerful weed or you are a Lesnar fanboy.
All of us have heard by now about Frank Mir's newly found striking game, and Cain Velasquez's solid striking. But all we've seen from Brock Lesnar is one standing TKO (against Couture) and a whole lot of ground and pound. If Carwin can keep it standing against Frank Mir, he can easily win that fight.
The same goes for a probable fight with Brock Lesnar. Carwin will be facing Frank Mir at UFC 111 on Mar. 27, in what should be a hell of a fight.
Frank Mir has been with the UFC for years, and is a surefire UFC Hall of Famer. Mir is considered by many (including me) to be one of the best heavyweights in the world, and there should be no arguing it.
After being obviously disappointed after his poor performance against Brock Lesnar at UFC 100, Mir bulked up, adding 20 pounds of muscle, obviously to be able to compete with Lesnar in the future.
His striking also seems to have taken a turn for the better, after dropping Cheick Kongo with a well placed punch back at UFC 107. Mir is also very versatile, with a very good submission game, which obviously makes things to his advantage (unless facing someone named Lesnar) on the ground.
He will be tested in all areas of the game when he fights Shane Carwin. Should he emerge victorious, expect to see Lesnar vs. Mir III. And be honest, who wouldn't want to see that?
After UFC 110, it's about damn time for people to start taking this guy seriously. He's young, confident, and best of all, he can fight. Physically, he isn't huge (6'2", 240 lbs), but the added quickness is what makes him so fast, which in turn makes his striking so effective.
After watching him beat Big Nog to EVERY punch last week, I was forced to acknowledge his "improved" striking. When he KO'd Big Nog in such stunning fashion, he made a case as the best striker in the division. In terms of the ground game, his background in wrestling (four time Division-One All-American @ Arizona State) is easily enough to combat Lesnar, and he will probably be able to keep the fight standing, which is to his advantage.
Velasquez will be the division champ someday. There is no denying it. However, he will have to wait for the winner of Carwin vs. Mir to fight Lesnar, and then Velasquez will fight the winner of that fight, considering he wins his next fight. His next challenge should be against the winner of Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Junior Dos Santos, in a fight that should be for title contention.
Apparently, it goes without saying that a man who has fought in only five professional fights is the best in his division. Unfortunately, he avenged his one loss, which forces me to put him in the top spot. If you can't tell, I hate this guy. Lesnar is a true master of the ground and pound, which for now suits him fine, but in the future, he will need to evolve.
His striking game is basically non-existant, so fights against good wrestlers/great strikers, like Cain Velasquez and Shane Carwin, could be troublesome for Mr. Lesnar. It will be interesting to see how Lesnar performs after being out for a year with diverticulitis.
The division has evolved a lot since he last fought, and it will be interesting to see how he performs against this "new breed" of heavyweight. He is set to make his return at UFC 116.
Well, that's it people. This was part five of my five part series. I have analyzed every UFC weight class, and given you the top 10 rankings of each. Don't expect to find any other slide shows by me until I come up with another good idea.
If you have any ideas you would be willing to share, message me and maybe we can work something out. Thank you for reading.