The more I look at the current state of the UFC HW division, the more muddled the picture becomes. After much contemplation, I have come to the conclusion that the HW division is a state of limbo, to be followed shortly by a period of decline. Bear with me if you will. Cain and JDS seem to be the Cream of the crop, followed closely by Carwin and Brock. Then you have a few guys like Mir, Big Country, and possible Rothwell and Big Nog. Then another drop to Struve, Schaub, Barry, and Mitrione (maybe Crocop and Kongo too, if you want to be kind). Then it’s a sharp decline…
I think that aside from the top 4-5 guys, nobody else really has a shot at making a championship run.
At the present time, Cain sits atop the HW heap. Judging from his complete destruction of Brock, he is poised to hold on to the belt for quite a long time. If (and that’s a big if…) he can get past current # 1 contender JDS. At 9-0, Cain has run through some of the bigger names in the division including Brock, Nog, Big Ben, and Kongo. Some may argue, but I would wager that he is currently the most well-rounded fighter in the weight class.
Jr. Dos Santos
Next up at bat, JDS will get his chance to prove that he, not Cain, is the future of the HW division. At just 26 years of age, JDS has compiled an impressive 12-1 (win streak: W7) record with 11 finishes. Along his road to the top, he has bulled his way through Big Country, Gabe, Crocop, Werdum, Struve, and Yvel. If anyone has a shot at taking out Cain, surely most would agree that it would be JDS
What to do, what to do? Brock is currently in a very peculiar situation. He was completely dominated by Cain, which now makes his performance against Carwin look even more suspect. Brock has not been fighting long, but has compiled a record of 5-2 (win streak: L1). Brock has quality victories over Randy, Heath, and Mir, and an essentially "empty" win over Carwin. Matchmaking is very critical for Brock at this point, as another loss would be 3 poor performances in a row, and would likely spell disaster for his career and reflect poorly on the UFC marketing machine which had painted him as an unstoppable force.
On the shelf for the foreseeable future, Shane is coming off a disappointing loss that saw him demolish Brock in the 1st round of their matchup, only to be betrayed by his body, as the victory was snatched from his grasp. The Engineer is 12-1 (Win streak: L1) with big wins over the likes of Mir, Gabe, Wain, and Wellisch.
Ahhh Frank…. Frank is still hovering around that top tier/middle tier limbo area. Frank has had an up and down career with both big victories and big defeats. Couple that with his near career ending injuries, and his lackluster performance against Crocop, and it starts to look like Frank may be permanently on the outside looking in at the title picture. He is currently 14-5 (win streak: W1) with wins over Crocop, Kongo, Nog, and Lesnar. Unfortunately, he has definitive loses to Brock and Carwin.
The Kimbo killing TUF winner entered the UFC on a tear, KOing Brandon Shaub and Stefan Stuve before being stopped in his tracks by a superior JDS. At 15-5 (win streak: L1), could conceivable put himself back into the title chase with a big win over someone like Mir or Brock. Due to contract difficulties, it may be a while before he gets that chance.
The man is a legend, but I fear his best days are behind him. He is still capable of putting on some good performances in some interesting matchups. But He is clearly no longer a top contender. At 34 years of age, his body has taken a lifetime of damage. He sits at 36-6-1-1, and like has only a handful of fights remaining in his HOF career.
Since being put to bed by BC in his 1st UFC fight, Schaub has recovered nicely by winning his last 3. At just 27, he could be one of the division’s future stars if he continues to improve. He currently stands at 7-1, and could break unto the upper echelon with 1-2 more wins.
Meathead is just a fun guy to watch. He seems to be a goofy dude, but to me, he has continued to show improvement with every fight. Matt is currently undefeated at 3-0 and needs to take a step up in competition in his next fight. Perhaps a fight with Schaub, or the winner of Struve/ McCorkle would make sense?
Rothwell has been fighting for a long time, evidenced by his record of 31-7 (win streak: 1). He is currently 1-1 in the UFC, with the loss coming to division kingpin Cain Velasquez. Ben is a fairly well rounded fighter, and could elevate his status with 1-2 wins. A man of his size and experience is always a danger for any opponent.
At just 22, Stefan is actually one of the most experience fighters in the division, with 24 fights to his credit. He has also faces some stiff competition, including JDS and BC. At 20-4 (win streak: W1) he is still learning and improving, and is sure to be a fixture in the UFC for many years to come. A big win over Sean "The Keyboard Warrior" McCorkle would help to boost him toward the top of the class.
HD is still on the mend following his submission loss to Crocop. Until he broke his hand and foot, Barry seemed to be cruising, but Murphy is a bitch, and Crocop capitalized to defeat the diminished kickboxer. At 5-2 (win streak: L1), and the loser in 2 of his last 3, Pat needs a win desperately.
What do you guys think. Outside the top 4-5, does anyone else have a shot at the HW strap?