It wasn't long ago that the UFC had a 45-year-old heavyweight champion, and Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum, Gabriel Gonzaga and an aged Antonio Nogueira were some of the biggest contenders for that belt. Since then, Couture lost the championship via 2nd round TKO to Brock Lesnar, Fabricio Werdum was KO'd in the first round by Junior Dos Santos, Nogueira was KO'd by Cain Velasquez in under 3 minutes, and Gabriel Gonzaga was defeated both by Shane Carwin and Junior Dos Santos in the first round. Needless to say, the old Heavyweight division in the UFC has been cleared out by new fresh competitors, and the division has gone from thin to thick with a talent pool that is greater than ever.
It could be argued that anyone within UFC's top 5 could be a champion soon, or stay the champion forever. Experts differ on who they think is the best, but Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, Shane Carwin, and Brock Lesnar are all top picks. With a title unification bout between Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar looming around the corner, a lot of questions remain to be answered. The biggest question of them all is how the title unification bout between Lesnar and Carwin will affect Fedor Emelianenko's top dog status among consensus rankings.
The name Fedor Emelianenko feels forever attached to number 1 in rankings. He has enjoyed his place at the top for so long-- and for good reason. Essentially undefeated, Emelianenko has defeated Mirko Cro Cop and Antonio Nogueira in their prime, and his recent victory over Brett Rogers cooled much of the hot speculation that he is no longer the best. But while Fedor has often fought the best and has always won, his next fight seems like a letdown after all the hype. Compared to the UFC heavyweight unification bout, it just doesn't seem compelling.
Fabricio Werdum has a rich history of remaining competitive throughout his career. However, it has been a long time since he has ranked in the consensus top 5 heavyweights. His last fight in the UFC was a loss to Junior Dos Santos in under 2 minutes. And while he made an impressive Strikeforce debut against Mike Kyle shortly after, it looked like he might get KO'd early in the fight against Antonio Silva, which he narrowly won by decision.
Fabricio Werdum is in most top 10 rankings, but he's usually at the tail end. Sherdog for example has Werdum at rank 10 in the heavyweights. So one has to ask, if Fedor Emelianenko beats Fabricio Werdum, is that going to be unexpected news? Or is Fedor, currently ranked number 1 in the world, taking on someone who by all accounts should lose? It just doesn't seem like a compelling or competitive matchup.
The major question I have is how the UFC title unification bout compared to Fedor's next fight will effect the consensus rankings. Will Sherdog still put Fedor at number 1 if there's a decisive winner in Lesnar vs. Carwin? And if Fedor beats Werdum-- which most people expect him to-- will that truly be enough to keep Fedor at the top rank while UFC's heavyweight division remains so competitive?