Randy Couture is probably the closest thing ever to a dominant UFC heavyweight, holding the title three different times and defending it three times as well between 1997-2008. While Couture held the title for approximately 1,113 days during that span of 11 years (4,015 days) and 629 days consecutively, the title changed hands to seven different fighters in that time period alone.
In a time and era when the heavyweight division was the weakest in the world, a big man who was ahead of his time had a great opportunity to clear out all comers and stay fresh with two fights annually. Couture was the standout big man of that early era of MMA.
The sport has evolved since that time, and that evolution has created more and better heavyweight fighters, more and better training and in essence a parity that the division has never seen before. The division is as deep as it has ever been and with the recent announcement that the Strikeforce heavyweight division will dissolve into the UFC, the water will only get deeper.
Evolution has also created a demand for title fights and expectation of fighting three to four times in one year a la Jon Jones. That demand also minimizes the chances of a lengthy, dominant reign. Injuries, fatigue and lack of focus creep in as each training camp goes on.
The days of the dynasty team in other sports has been crushed by salary caps and collective bargaining agreements aimed at creating a level playing field. In MMA, the evolution to parity has been a much more natural thing based on growth and development of the sport.
Sure, there are still dominant champions in the welterweight, middleweight and even the light heavyweight division, but it is easier to dominate at the lighter divisions where mistakes can be overcome, grind on the body is less and in-fight comebacks are more of the norm.
One example to explain what I mean is lightweight champion Frankie Edgar compared to former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
Edgar made early errors in both his title defences against Gray Maynard but the power shots Maynard landed were not enough to put the champ away. He was able to come back and hold on to his title both times. In contrast at heavyweight, Cain Velasquez made a mistake early against Junior dos Santos and due to the power of a heavyweight strike, it was all she wrote for his title reign.
Is Dos Santos, the man who looks unbeatable, going to have a dominant hold on the heavyweight gold? I don't see it that way and believe that his title reign will also be a short one. History, evolution and parity says that the big belt will remain a hot potato in 2012.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and correspondent for MMACanada.net.