Continuing with the series of in-depth divisional breakdowns that started yesterday with a look at the Bantamweight division (read it here), Featherweight division (read it here), the Lightweight division (read it here), the Welterweight division (read it here), the Middleweight division (read it here), and Light Heavyweight division (read it here) we move finally on to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight division.
With the world's leading mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion in the middle of one of its longest stretches of down time in months, (and with the summer season jam-packed with events), I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to take an in-depth look at all the divisions to clearly identify who is in the title picture, who isn't, who is building themselves into a contender and whose jobs are on the line.
The UFC is essentially an endlessly on-going tournament, with two brackets: One for match winners and one for match losers. Just about the only time that Joe Silva and Dana White match up a guy coming off a win with a guy coming off a loss is if the guy coming off a loss was fighting for a title. Otherwise, it's almost always winner vs winner and loser vs loser.
It's a pretty sensible way of doing things, ensuring that there will always be guys with a few wins in a row and others with a couple of losses in a row, opening up the chance for new blood to enter into the company.
So anytime you are looking at a division and trying to see what the future will hold, it's mandatory to know who are the fighter's on win streaks and who are the fighters on losing streaks. As such, I've been organizing each division by wins and losses for a few months now and throughout today I'll be posting up my take on each division based on this data. I'm not going to be doing an in-depth feature on the flyweight division, as there has only been two fights in the division thus far.
Therefore, we move on to the Heavyweight division (265 pounds):
Eight wins: Junior dos Santos
Four wins: Mike Russow
Three wins: Frank Mir, Mark Hunt
Two wins: Travis Browne, Stefan Struve, Stipe Miocic
One win: Alistair Overeem, Pat Barry, Gabriel Gonzaga, Shawn Jordan, Lavar Johnson, Fabricio Werdum
One loss: Cain Velasquez, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Matt Mitrione, Brendan Schaub, Jon Madsen, Ben Rothwell, Dave Herman, Cheick Kongo, Edinaldo Oliveira, Roy Nelson, Philip De Fries, Oli Thompson
Two losses: Shane Carwin, Christian Morecraft, Rob Broughton, Jon Olav Einemo, Joey Beltran
Junior Dos Santos is quickly approaching the dominant runs of Georges St. Pierre and Jose Aldo, although I think many people would argue that the heavyweight division is not very deep. This used to be a lot more accurate, as the UFC has added a handful of good heavyweights in the past year since the acquisition of Strikeforce and is preparing to show them off at UFC 146. Mike Russow, Frank Mir and Mark Hunt have the longest streaks behind Dos Santos, which speaks to the fact that the new additions have yet to make a big impact.
- Brendan Schaub vs Ben Rothwell, UFC 145
- Travis Browne vs Chad Griggs, UFC 145
- Lavar Johnson vs Pat Barry, UFC on Fox 3
- Junior Dos Santos vs Alistair Overeem, UFC 146
- Frank MIr vs Cain Velasquez, UFC 146
- Mark Hunt vs Stefan Struve, UFC 146
- Roy Nelson vs Antonio Silva, UFC 146
- Gabriel Gonzaga vs Shane Del Rosario, UFC 146
- Fabricio Werdum vs Mike Russow, UFC 147
Obviously the huge story is the main card of UFC 146, which will feature five heavyweight fights, including the championship and the fight for the number one contender spot. Of course Barry/Johnson shouldn't be ignored, nor for that matter should Rothwell/Schaub or Griggs/Browne. Every fight is pretty relevant to the division, with so many unknowns and new faces trying to cut out a spot for themselves. What will the end of the Mark Hunt story be? Is he on his way to a title shot by the end of the year? He'll have four wins in a row if he takes out Stefan Struve, a more than accomplishable task. Very intriguing and exciting time to be a heavyweight fan.
Stipe Miocic, Shawn Jordan
Just two men without a fight on the winning ledger, so why not? Miocic is highly regarded and has two straight wins to start his octagon career. Jordan isn't quite as highly regarded but he is well rounded and would be a good test for Miocic as he gets ready to take on some of the top talent.
Shane Carwin, Christian Morecraft, Rob Broughton, Jon-Olav Einemo, Joey Beltran, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Matt Mitrione, Jon Madsen, Dave Herman, Cheick Kongo, Edinaldo Oliveira, Philip De Fries, Oli Thompson
A bunch of free guys coming off a loss or two. Big Nog is likely not coming back any time soon so I'll exclude him from my potential match-ups. I think Dave Herman and Matt Mitrione match up quite nicely. Not guys who are going to make a title run this year but exciting stand up brawlers who do have some technical precision to their games. It would be a good fight to put on a free TV card. Shane Carwin and Cheick Kongo seem like a logical pair to put together, as Carwin wants to stay in the top group and has a good argument that he should, having lost only to Brock and Junior, two of the best heavyweights in the past five years. Kongo is a gatekeeper who would provide the perfect re-entry into the active top 10 for Carwin.
That wraps up the in-depth divisional breakdowns for spring 2012. Anything stand out that I haven't covered?
Almost every division has a champion with a lengthy win streak. Will those streaks continue through the end of the year or are we going to see a new world order of UFC champions?
Thanks for reading!