Heavyweights: The Thinnest Division in the UFC

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Heavyweights: The Thinnest Division in the UFC

Well, it’s pretty safe to say that with the exception of Big Nog and contractually obligated Randy Couture, the best heavyweights in the world are not in the UFC.

As a matter of fact, there were more Heavyweight fights on the main card of Affliction: Banned then there were on the last 6 UFC shows combined.

The heaviest division is indeed the lightest of them all in the UFC, but exactly how light is it?

On UFC.com, there are 21 fighters listed when you breakdown by division.

Of those 21 fighters, all things remaining the same, four of them have fought their last fight for the UFC.

The four?

Dan “The Beast” Severn, “The Natural” Randy Couture, “The Pit Bull” Andrei Arlovski, and Justin Eilers.

Severnhas not fought in the UFC since UFC 27.

He is listed solely due to his UFC Hall of Fame status, as is Mark Coleman, however Coleman is still looking to fight in the UFC.

Couture’s issues with the UFC have been long drawn out and well documented, but realistically he may never fight in the UFC, if ever again.

Many are hoping for a super-fight with WAMMA Heavyweight Champion and arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, but that may be just talk for now.

Arlovski is set to square off versus Fedor for the WAMMA Championship in October, and has fought his last fight with the UFC at UFC 82 in March 2008.

Justin Eilers just loss the inaugural EliteXC Heavyweight Championship match to Antonio Silva this past Saturday, and hasn’t fought in the UFC since UFC 57 in February of 2006.

On top of the Division sits “Big Nog” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He is set to square off versus former champion Frank Mir after the two of them coach the new season of the Ultimate Fighter on Spike. But after that, who is next? Several of the more promising fighters have been pushed by the wayside.

As I did with my breakdown of the Light Heavyweight Division in June of 2006, let me run down a short list of UFC Light Heavyweights with records, previous and upcoming fights.

I will only get to the top five in a compiled order, by averaging out the rankings given by, WAMMA, Sherdog.com , MMAWeekly.com, and fightmatrix.com. I would’ve done Top 10 at least, but honestly there is just not that much to work with.

 

No. 1

“Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Current Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion, Former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion

Last Fight:          UFC 81 (02/02/08) Tim Sylvia – W - Submission (Choke)

Next Fight:           announced, no set date – Frank Mir – UFC Heavyweight Title

- Currently set to star as a coach on the Ultimate Fighter Season 8, Big Nog will be able to check out the Championship contender 1sthand as he is set to square off against Frank Mir after the season is over, probably headlining a UFC card in November or December. He holds wins over Sylvia, Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson, Fabricio Werdum, Mirko Cro Cop, Ricco Rodriguez, Mark Coleman, and 3 over Herring.

No. 2

Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (11-3 Overall, 2-1 UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC 85 (06/07/08) Brandon Vera – W – TKO (Punches)

Next Fight:          - none officially announced -

- Werdum was one of the big free agents signed last year by the UFC to help with the UFC division. After making his UFC debut versus former champion Andrei Arlovski, which he lost by Unanimous Decision, Werdum beat 2 up & coming fighters in Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera. Werdum has quickly slated himself as one of the top Heavyweights to beat in the UFC and should soon be in title contention. Werdum has key victories over Vera, Aleksander Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, and two over Gonzaga.

No. 3

“Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga (10-3 Overall, 5-2 UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC 86 (07/05/08) Justin McCully – W – Submission (Americana)

Next Fight:          - none officially announced –

 - Gonzaga has returned to his winning ways after losing 2 in a row with a recent victory over Justin McCully. Gonzaga earned a title shot at Randy Couture after beating world renowned Mirko Cro Cop with a kick heard round the world. Then he went on to lose for the 2nd time in his career to Fabricio Werdum. Gonzaga looks to make his way up the mountain and surely has the skills to do so. He has never been to a decision. All 10 of his victories have come by KO (4) or Submission (6). His 3 losses have all come by TKO.

No. 4

Heath Herring  (28-13 Overall, 2-2 in the UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC 82 (03/01/08) Cheick Kongo – W – Split Decision

Next Fight:          UFC 87 (08/09/08) Brock Lesnar

- A well-traveled vet, he is set to square off versus UFC newcomer Brock Lesnar. Herring is looking to put together a 2 win streak for the 1sttime since 2004. Even with a key UFC victory over up & comer Cheick Kongo (Split Decision, UFC 82), Herring has a little more ground to make up before he challenges for the title again. But as long as Big Nog wears the crown, win or lose, it should be a good idea to keep Herring out of the title picture as Nogueira has bested Herring all 3 times (twice in Pride and once in the UFC). Herring has key wins over Evan Tanner, Brad Imes, Kongo, Gary Goodridge, and Gan McGee.

No. 5 – Tie

Cheick Kongo (11-4 Overall, 4-2 in the UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC 82 (03/01/08) Heath Herring – L – Split Decision

Next Fight:          - none officially announced –

- Kongo is and up & comer, and even with 15 fights under his belt already, Kongo is sure to be watched in the future. The Frenchmen has been involved with Martial Arts since he was 5 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. He suffered his 2nddefeat in the UFC to the veteran Heath Herring by Split Decision that could’ve easily gone either way. Kongo will look to rebound and get closer to a title shot. He has a key victory over Mirko Cro Cop.

No. 5 – Tie

Frank Mir (11-3 Overall, 9-3 UFC)

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion

Last Fight:          UFC 81 (02/02/08) Brock Lesnar – W – Submission (Kneebar)

Next Fight:          announced, no set date – Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera – UFC Heavyweight Title

- Frank Mir has been cutting his teeth on the microphone as a co-commentator on the WEC shows, and now as a coach on the next season of the Ultimate Fighter. Mir has finally returned to the title picture after being injured in a motorcycle accident in September of 2004, several months after he won the vacant UFC Heavyweight championship after breaking Tim Sylvia’s arm in the match. He was unable to compete and thus stripped of the title 14 months later. Mir began the comeback in February of 2006 but lost to a newcomer in Marcio Cruz. He then won 3 of his next 4 fights on a comeback trail. Mir holds key victories over Tank Abbot and Tim Sylvia.

Notables:

 

Jake O’Brien (10-2 Overall, 3-2 UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC Fight Night 14 (07/19/08) Cain Velasquez – L – TKO (Strikes)

Next Fight:          - none officially announced –

-  O’Brien was on a 10 fight roll when he squared off against former champion Andrei Arlovski, and was stopped by him in the 2nd by TKO. He then fought again at his last fight, which also ended the same way, but in the 1stthis time to newcomer Cain Velasquez. O’Brien is looking to regain his winning form and has proven he can with a victory over veteran Heath Herring.

Brock Lesnar (1-1 Overall, 0-1 in the UFC)

NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Champion, Former WWE Pro-Wrestling Champion

Last Fight:          UFC 81 (02/02/08) Frank Mir – L – Submission (Kneebar)

Next Fight:          UFC 87 (08/09/08) Heath Herring

- Herring’s opponent at UFC 87 has a career record of 1-1 in MMA. Lesnar is looking to get his 1stvictory in the octagon. Facing off established veteran Herring will prove to be a tough task after falling to former UFC Heavyweight Champion and #1 contender, Frank Mir, in his 1stouting. Lesnar is looking to add mega-hype to an already stellar card at UFC 87, but also should be a few years away from title contention in the UFC.

Cain Velasquez (4-0 Overall, 2-0 UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC Fight Night 14 (07/19/08) Jake O’Brien – W – TKO (Strikes)

Next Fight:          - none officially announced -

- Velasquez has been impressive in his young career, amassing all 4 wins by TKO, and all in the 1stRound. His last victory was a win over Jake O’Brien, whose only other lost was to former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski.

Shane Carwin (9-0 Overall, 1-0 in the UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC 84 (05/24/08) Christian Wellisch – W – KO (Punch)

Next Fight:          UFC 89 (10/18/08) Neil Wain

- Carwin is slated to be on the UFC 89 preliminary card versus newcomer Neil Wain. Carwin has amassed an undefeated record in his young career since debuting in October of 2005. He has yet to face any key opponents but all 9 victories have come by way of stoppage. 4 KOsand 5 Submissions. Carwin will look to stop Neil Wain who is on a hot streak of his own, coming in at 5-0.

“The Insane 1” Justin McCully (8-4-2 Overall, 1-1 UFC)

Last Fight:          UFC 86 (07/05/08) Gabriel Gonzaga – L – Submission (Americana)

Next Fight:          - none officially announced –

- McCully was recently derailed by former UFC championship contender Gabriel Gonzaga earlier this month, after a 5 fight win streak. McCully is still trying to breakthrough in the UFC and prove that he belongs with the elite in the division. McCully should be back on a UFC card soon, and will be hoping to make lots of noise.

 

As you can easily see, the UFC is limited in its prospects in the Heavyweight Division and can clearly see why only five of them can be ranked.

UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman was not included due to his retired status. He originally was going to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 but has since pulled out due to a knee injury during training and his return is uncertain.

Even though Coleman announced he was not indeed retired, he has not been in an MMA match since losing to Fedor Emelianenko in October 2006 at PRIDE 32.

The UFC has to either dip its hat into the Free Agency category or start developing and fast in order to keep the division interesting and respectable.

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