Breaking Down a UFC Heavyweight Grand Prix

Vince Carey@@vcareymmaContributor IDecember 6, 2011

Breaking Down a UFC Heavyweight Grand Prix

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    With only two big UFC events remaining this year, it’s becoming obvious that the heavyweight division will have gone through significant changes by the time we hit 2012.

    From Junior Dos Santos’ rise from contender to champion, to Alistair Overeem finally getting signed to the world’s most popular organization, to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira resurrecting his career at UFC 134, 2011 has been one of the most hectic years in recent memory.

    But even though the year is almost at its end, there are still two massive heavyweight fights left in 2011; Nogueira vs. Frank Mir at UFC 140 this weekend and Brock Lesnar vs. Overeem at UFC 141 on the 30th.

    These fights will play a huge part in how the division ends up in early 2012 and will likely end up setting up some future title fights.

    But since the top of the division is so ridiculously stacked, I thought it would be fun to create an eight-man heavyweight grand prix and see who would come out on top.

Round 1 Matchups

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    1. Junior Dos Santos vs. 8. Cheick Kongo

    2. Cain Velasquez vs. 7. Shane Carwin

    3. Brock Lesnar vs. 6. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

    4. Alistair Overeem vs. 5. Frank Mir

1. Junior Dos Santos vs. 8. Cheick Kongo

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    The current UFC heavyweight champion has been in many memorable fights already in his UFC career, and knowing how good Kongo is on the feet, this one would be a barnburner while it lasted.

    Even though the fight would be entertaining, there is no doubt who would win this fight, as Dos Santos would catch Kongo on the feet in the first round and earn yet another knockout victory.

4. Alistair Overeem vs. 5. Frank Mir

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    The UFC’s biggest acquisition of 2011 (both literally and figuratively), Overeem has a lot to prove when he makes his UFC debut.

    A fight against Mir was actually rumored for quite some time before Overeem was set to fight Lesnar, and fans were split between the K-1 Champion and Mir as to who would win.

    Mir has decent striking and has developed a good wrestling game that allows him to use his outstanding jiu-jitsu, but his problem with Overeem is that he would have to dodge some bombs in order to get it to the mat.

    The thing that sets Mir apart from Overeem’s recent opponents is that he has fought much better competition over the past few years and has proven that he can hang with the best in the world.

    Mir holds his own on the feet and wins on the ground, earning the upset.

2. Cain Velasquez vs. 7. Shane Carwin

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    A fight that many fans were salivating about just two years ago, it seems a bit anticlimactic when you think about the fight now.

    Carwin is one of the most powerful fighters in MMA and could possibly knock out Velasquez, who has shown he can be hurt by punches, but Cain’s technical striking and superior wrestling would end up making this fight a blowout.

    Velasquez might not be able to stop Carwin, but he would easily win a decision.

3. Brock Lesnar vs. 6. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

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    Can top level jiu-jitsu compete with some of the most powerful wrestling in the world?

    This might be the best fight for us to find out.

    Nogueira is one of the best fighters in the world off his back and has what many consider to be the best guard in MMA, but Lesnar’s tenacity and strength make his top control a scary thing for any opponent.

    Lesnar’s power and stifling ground-and-pound would likely prove to be too much for Nogueira, and although a few years ago, the thought of “Minotauro” being stopped was laughable, his chin has stared to deteriorate, and Lesnar would finish the fight.

Round 2

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    1. Junior Dos Santos vs. 5. Frank Mir

    2. Cain Velasquez vs. 3. Brock Lesnar

1. Junior Dos Santos vs. 5. Frank Mir

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    Much like the Overeem fight, Mir has no chance on the feet against Dos Santos, but it might be a bit harder to get “Cigano” to the mat.

    Junior was able to stay on his feet in fights against Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson and has even scored a few takedowns of his own in recent bouts.

    Mir would make it fun for a while, but eventually JDS would hit him with those heavy hands, and Mir will lose consciousness.

    The UFC heavyweight champ is making his way to the finals.

2. Cain Velasquez vs. 3. Brock Lesnar

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    This looks familiar.

    Velasquez dominated Lesnar when these two fought at UFC 121, stuffing his takedowns and blasting the former NCAA wrestling champion on the feet.

    I hate to think that this fight would be as one-sided as the first one, but unless Lesnar has improved dramatically since then, it seems unlikely.

    Since we haven’t seen Lesnar compete since the last time these two went at it, the result remains the same.

Final Round: 1. Junior Dos Santos vs. 2. Cain Velasquez

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    Another rematch, but this fight will end up being much closer than the first.

    Unlike Velasquez’s win over Lesnar, where he dominated his opponent for an entire round, Dos Santos caught Velasquez with a big punch on order to earn the win at UFC on Fox, which can happen in any fight.

    Velasquez would have an advantage on the mat and is decent enough on the feet to hang with Dos Santos long enough to get it there, which could be his advantage in a rematch.

    However, every round starts on the feet, and Cain has been hit and hurt more often than most people realize.

    Dos Santos might get in some trouble early, but he will eventually end this fight like he did the first one, with his hand in the air and Velasquez face down on the canvas.

Winner: Junior Dos Santos

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    It may seem a bit anticlimactic, but Dos Santos walks away with the tournament crown here.

    He may have had a bit of trouble against the striking of Alistair Overeem, or even the raw power of Lesnar, but like they say, “styles make fights,” and no one he fought had the right mixture of skills to beat him.

    Whether you loved this, hated this, or think I’m out of my mind for picking Mir over Overeem (which is probably most of you) let me know in the comments section and I’ll get back to you.