Throughout history, heavyweight has always been one of the most well-liked and exciting divisions in all forms of combat sports, weather it be boxing, kickboxing, or MMA. The UFC’s heavyweight division has long been regarded as one of its best, consisting of massive fighters possessing devastating knockout power.
A heavyweight division once consisting of the likes of Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, Frank Mir, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, just to name a few notables, was looking rather diminished lately. This point came after Cain Velasquez destroyed Lesnar to take the title back at UFC 121 in October of 2010. After this fight, Lesnar went back to the WWE, Carwin went on to retire, and Mir and Nogueira have been fading ever since. The loss of these perennial superstars left one of the most exciting divisions looking rather lackluster.
After this point, one can argue that Velasquez and Junior dos Santos were the only two relevant heavyweights for quite some time. Don’t get me wrong, they put on three very exciting fights, with Velasquez proving he is among the elite pound-for-pound fighters in today’s MMA landscape. Besides these two, though, what did fans have to look forward too? Not much to be honest.
However, that is all changing. The heavyweight division is experiencing a rebirth, so to say, with the returns of injured stars Velasquez and JDS approaching and the emergence of many new contenders as well as exciting fights we can look forward too.
First off, we have the highly anticipated title fight between the reigning champ himself and No.1 contender Fabricio Werdum soon approaching at UFC 180 in November. Besides the fact that Velasquez will be returning from almost a year off, Werdum proved in his last fight how talented and exciting he can be. I would think I speak for many fans when I say this, but I cannot wait for this scrap.
We also have a very exciting brawl going down at UFC Fight Night 52 this weekend (September 20, 2014) that pits two of the most devastating knockout artists in the heavyweight division against each other when Mark Hunt takes on Roy Nelson. If you like a slugfest, you should definitely tune into this one.
Besides specific fights, there have been quite a few fighters who have recently emerged as possible contenders to Velasquez’s throne. Leading the charge is Stipe Miocic, the No. 4-ranked challenger who has been on as a tear as of late. It is rumored that a bout between Miocic and JDS could be in the works.
With a win over Dos Santos, Miocic could earn a title shot. This list also consists of Andrei Arlovski, who recently picked up a very impressive first round knockout over “Bigfoot Silva”, Ben Rothwell, who recently knocked out Alistair Overeem, and Matt Mitrione, who is a riding a two-fight win streak of his own, with each win coming by way of first round knockout.
Also adding to the excitement, is the return of “The Skyscraper” Stefan Struve. Struve has been out for quite a long time battling a heart condition, but he has overcame his struggles and will be back in the cage soon. It was announced recently that Struve will take on Alistair Overeem at UFC on FOX 13 on December 13, 2014. This is sure to be a very exciting tilt.
With all these factors coming in to play, the returns, the fights, and the new contenders the heavyweight division is undoubtedly on an upward rise. Whether you are a fan of the heavyweight division or just a fight fan in general, there’s no way you cannot be excited for what’s to come. But with several big fights on the horizon, will anyone be able to wrest the belt from the grinding Velasquez’s iron grip?