Andrei Arlovski or Stipe Miocic: Who Should Get the Next Heavyweight Title Shot?

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2015

Jun 14, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Andrei Arlovski (red) fights Brendan Schuab (blue) in the Heavyweight bout at UFC 174 at Rogers Arena. Andrei Arlovski defeats Brendan Schuab via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The heavyweight division is a dangerous land these days.

Supercharged with explosive knockout artists, high-octane pressure cookers and some of the last legends of the sport, the weight class doesn't need much to garner attention.

But with rising title contenders like Andrei Arlovski and Stipe Miocic pushing towards the crown, the heavyweight pastures look even greener.

With elite-level skill sets and worthy resumes by their sides, both Arlovski and Miocic possess the accolades to challenge for a championship.

Current champion Cain Velasquez and current interim champion Fabricio Werdum are scheduled to merge gold at UFC 188 this Saturday, so either The Pitbull or the Ohioan could be pitted against the winner.

But who deserves the shot at UFC glory?

To be clear, this is not a testament to how each fighter would fare in a championship fight, but rather their individual cases to earn the right to be in one.

Because at the end of the day, Arlovski and Miocic are two of the hottest fighters in the division today and both deserve recognition.

But there can only be one.

John Locher/Associated Press

For Arlovski, the former UFC heavyweight champ, his argument revolves mostly around a recent first-round finish of Travis Browne at UFC 187.

His efforts produced one of the most infamous five minutes in heavyweight history by demolishing a fighter who remains one of the toughest outs around.

However, Arlovski's three-fight win streak since his promotional return back in 2014 may not stand up under the microscope.

His split-decision victory over Brendan Schaub at UFC 174 was hardly the eye-opening comeback the Belorussian had hoped for, especially considering he got out-struck 30-to-12.

And his knockout of Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at UFC Fight Night 51 may have been a product of the Brazilian's struggles with testosterone use.

But Arlovski has racked off three wins in a row with two first-round finishes nonetheless. Those are the type of selling points we want in our heavyweights today.

As for Miocic, who has only a one-fight win streak to his name, his claim to the throne is a direct result of his victory over Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 65 and his loss to Junior Dos Santos at UFC on Fox 13.

The ultra-athletic heavyweight finished Hunt in the fifth round with a barrage of punches, producing 113 significant strikes and six takedowns in the process.

December 13, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Junior Dos Santos hits Stipe Miocic during UFC Fight Night at US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was one of his best performances to date against a seasoned vet with an iron chin. An impressive rebound for Miocic, who has never lost two in a row in his career.

But believe it or not, the 32-year-old should rely on his defeat at the hands of JDS more than his victory over The Super Samoan.

Miocic's performance opposite Dos Santos mirrored that of a champion. One who can stand and bang with arguably the best MMA boxer of all time.

Many people even had Miocic winning that fight, but 34 more strikes from the Brazilian suggest he did enough to win.

So even in defeat Miocic gained more divisional momentum than he could ever hope for.

But is any 1-1 record ever better than a 3-0 record?

It's not only difficult to bypass while deciding who deserves a shot at the title but also the promotion's ability to promote a title fight should they chose Miocic.

Where does that leave us?

Well, there's always Ben Rothwell. But despite an impressive three-fight winning streak with three memorable finishes, his name is not big enough to earn the ticket.

That means that Arlovski is the best bet at this moment. Not only because the UFC needs a strong enough product to headline, but also because the former heavyweight kingpin has earned it.

His power and patience have never looked more in tune, especially considering he was more or less fighting himself into retirement just four years ago.

Miocic vs. Rothwell would make more sense at this time, as well as a long-awaited divisional clash between Dos Santos and Alistair Overeem.

Arlovski deserves the shot and could fair well if he remains healthy.

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