The UFC heavyweight divison is a mess and in my opinion the UFC brass has not helped the situation any recently.
- The match making has messed things up.
- The booking of Nogueira and Mir for The Ultimate Fighter took the interim champ and pitted him against someone who was not the number one contender.
- The rise of stardom or Brock Lesnar has further complicated things
- The UFC put in Fabricio Werdum’s contract a sure title shot if he beats Junior Dos Santos at UFC 90
- The Randy Couture return really complicated things. The UFC never stripped Randy of his title, so he is the champ. Nogueria is the interim champ.
- The match with Couture and Lesnar in November, while a blockbuster further clouded the title picture
I don’t know what the UFC has said will happen, but he is the problem: With Couture’s return the UFC would have ideally match Nogueira vs. Couture for the undisputed title, however they gave the interim champ a coaching gig on the Ultimate Fighter and promised Frank Mir a shot at the interim title. I have no idea how the UFC will work things out. Will there be two belts until the Couture/Lesnar winner can fight the Mir/Nogueira winner? Will Nogueira be stripped of his interim title? I hope not. Where does Werdum fit into the equation? I believe there is a clear top 3 ranked guys, but due to match making the title picture can’t be settled that easily. Here are what I see the UFC has thought, and may be Joe Silva’s rankings
1. Randy Couture (Heavyweight Champion)
2. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Interim Heavyweight Champion)
3. Fabricio Werdum
4. Frank Mir
5. Brock Lesnar (I don’t believe he is a “5” yet)
I understand the UFC’s decision to make the Couture vs. Lesnar fight. It means big bucks. However, if I was Fabricio Werdum I would be upset. If I was an up and comer in the divison like Cain Velasquez or Shane Carwin I would be upset. Brock Lesnar looked impressive in his win over Herring and impressive in his loss to Frank Mir, but he is 1-1 in the UFC. He is not ready for a title shot. Granted, I believe he could easily win this fight, I think others may be more deserving of the fight. However, I admit that the options may have been limited due to the Ultimate Fighter situation and impending Mir vs. Nogueira fight in December.
Ideally the UFC should do this:
- Keep the Mir vs. Nogueira fight a title fight
- Keep the Couture vs. Lesnar fight a title fight
- Pit the winner of Mir/Nogueira vs. the winner of Couture/Lesnar. If Randy has a 3 fight deal, he ought to fight the Lesnar fight and the interim title holder before he has a shot at Fedor.
- Werdum has to fit into this somehow. The UFC is contractually obligated to that. I would give Werdum a shot by spring of ’09 pending his win at UFC 90. A loss for Werdum at UFC 90 would help the UFC in some ways.
- By that time Cain Velasquez should be in the mix as well
- The point is the belt holders because of the complicated situation should be expected to fight 3 times between now and the spring of ’09.