UFC's Dwindeling Heavyweight Division: Where Is It Going?

Pete DudekCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2008

The UFC's talent pool runs deep, featuring some of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.  With a potential rematch between BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva taking a crack at the Light Heavyweights, and Forrest Griffin defeating "Rampage," there is a flux of activity within all of the weight classes save one: The Heavyweights.

With the absence of Randy Couture due to contract dispute, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira fought and defeated Tim Sylvia for the Interim title. This was back in February.  He has not defended his title since and will not until after a stint coaching the eigth season of The Ultimate Fighter alongside his future opponent, Frank Mir

Mir earned his title shot by defeating Heavyweight hopeful Brock Lesnar with a quick first round submission victory the same night Nogueira won the belt.  Unfortunately, this fight won't happen anytime soon.  With the eight season of TUF slated to start September 17th and finish sometime in December, Mir and Nogueira will have to wait at least ten months before they next step into the octagon.

*SIDE NOTE- Speaking of TUF, Heavyweights haven't been featured since season two.

According to Sherdog.com, the UFC only features three top-ten fighters in Nogueira, Fabricio Werdum, and Gabriel Gonzaga for the Heavyweight division. Gonzaga and Werdum have recently won in the octagon, and will be climbing up the ladder.  However, besides this recent action, there is not too much more to come.

There are only three slated Heavyweight bouts between now and October for the UFC.  These fights are newcomer Cain Velasquez against Jake O'Brien.  Velasquez has only had three professional fights but is undefeated, finishing all his fights in the first round.  He is also a product of the American Kickboxing Academy.  O'Brien was undefeated in ten fights until suffering a second round TKO at the hands of Andrei Arlovski.  Velasquez is showing signs of hope for the division if he can take out O'Brien.

The next two bouts are to take place in the same night.  The first features Brock Lesnar against Heath"Texas Crazy Horse" Herring.  Lesnar is looking to bounce back after the submission loss to Mir, while Herring is on a "high horse" after defeating potential top contender Cheick Kongo via decision.  Both men have a lot to gain from this bout.

The next fight is between the aforementioned Cheick Kongo and UFC newcomer Dan Eversen.  With Kongo looking to bounce back after his loss to Herring and Eversen looking to make a name for himself in the UFC with a record of 10-2, this bout will help determine the future rankings for the Heavyweight division.

With a large number of former UFC fighters signing with the newly formed Affliction promotion and news of Brandon Vera dropping to Light Heavyweight, the UFC is in dire need of some new heavyweight talent if the division is going to survive.