Breaking Down the UFC Heavyweight Divison

The Champion: Brock Lesnar

The Top Contender: The Winner of Mir vs. Nogueira

The Next Tier:

·         Frank Mir

·         Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

·         Gabriel Gonzaga

·         Cheick Kongo

·         Fabricio Werdum

·         Randy Couture

 

On the Rise: 

·         Cain Velasquez

·         Shane Carwin

·         Junior Dos Santos

 

Other Notables:

·         Heath Herring

·         Jake O’Brien

·         Antoni Hardonk

·         Mustafa Al Turk

·         Justin McCully

·         Eddie Sanchez

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully @ UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira @ UFC 92 on December 28 (For Interim Title)

·         Cheick Kongo vs. Mustafa Al Turk @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Antoni Hardonk vs. Mark Burch @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Dan Evensen vs. Patrick Barry @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Jake O’Brien vs. Christian Wellish @ UFC 94 on January 31

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Heath Herring vs. Gabriel Gonzaga or Cain Velasquez

·         Shane Carwin vs. Junior Dos Santos

·         The loser of Mir vs. Nogueira vs. Randy Couture

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The status of Fabricio Werdum is unknown.  Rumors circulated that he was released from his UFC contract following a breakdown in contract negotiations.  Then it was reported that Werdum was not leaving the UFC.  If he stays he is a serious contender.  I hope the UFC would consider this and want to keep him around

·         The status of ProElite is uncertain, and I mention this because the UFC has the potential to sign a couple of good fighters from the EliteXC heavyweight division such as Brett Rogers and Dave Herman.  It looked like Antonio Silva will head to Sengoku and Kimbo Slice, well….who cares!

·         It is time for Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez to get more exposure and fight the best.  They are real threats to Brock’s belt. 

·         A 2009 bout between Lesnar and the winner of the Mir vs. Nogueira fight is exciting

·         We are hoping Randy Couture has a few fights left in the tank, and they probably will be at Heavyweight, but don’t expect him to fight no name fighters.

·         Not sure where Mark Coleman fits into the heavyweight picture seeing as how he will be fighting Shogun at light heavyweight

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MMABlog’s Heavyweight MMA Rankings

 

Below I posted my heavyweight rankings.  My other rankings will be posted today as well.  Certainly the rankings could change a litte bit following UFC 90.  I’d love to hear your debate and arguments as these rankings are somewhat subjective.

 

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

Fedor Emelianenko

Affliction

Arlovski (#4) 1/24

2

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

UFC

Mir (#11), 12/27

3

Randy Couture

UFC

Lesnar (#16), 11/15

4

Andrei Arlovski

Affliction

Emelianenko (#1) 1/24

5

Josh Barnett

Affliction

1/24

6

Fabricio Werdum

UFC

Do Santos (NR), 10/25

7

Gabriel Gonzaga

UFC

Hendricks (NR), 11/15

8

Tim Sylvia

Afliction

 

9

Alistair Overeem

DREAM/Strikeforce

 

10

Cheick Kongo

UFC

Al Turk (NR), 12/27

11

Frank Mir

UFC

Nogueira (#2) , 12/27

12

Ben Rothwell

Affliction

 

13

Aleksander Emelianenko

Affliction

 

14

Mirko Cro Cop

DREAM

 

15

Sergei Kharitonov

DREAM

 

16

Brock Lesnar

UFC

Couture (#3), 11/15

17

Roy Nelson

Affliction

 

18

Cain Velasquez

UFC

 

19

Antonio Silva

EliteXC?

 

20

Shane Carwin

UFC

 

21

Heath Herring

UFC

 

22

Dave Herman

EliteXC?

 

23

Pedro Rizzo

Affliction?

 

24

Brett Rogers

EliteXC?

 

25

Ricco Rodriquez

EliteXC?

 

Mid Year MMA Awards

Best Knockout

Honorable Mention: Luis Arthur Cane KO Jason Lambert, Shane Carwin KO Christian Wellish, Murilio Rua TKO Tony Bonello, Matt Wiman KO Thiago Tavares

5. Anthony Johnson KO Tommy Speer

4. Wilson Gouveia KO Jason Lambert

3. Brian Stann KO Doug Marshall

2. James Irvin KO Houston Alexander

1. Wanderlei Silva KO Keith Jardine

Best Submission

Honorable Mention: Antonio Nogueira submits Tim Sylvia by Guillotine, Yoshiyuki Yoshida submits Jon Koppenhaver by Anaconda choke, Nate Diaz submits Kurt Pellegrino, Cole Miller Submits Jorge Gurgel by Triangle Choke

5. Demian Mia Submits Ed Herman by Triangle Choke

4. Frank Mir Submits Brock Lesnar by Kneebar

3. Rousimar Palhares Submits Ivan Salaverry by Armbar

2. Dustin Hazelett Submits Josh Burkman by Armbar

1. Shinya Aoki Submits Katsuhiko Nagata by Aokiplata

Best Fight

Honorable Mention: Shinya Aoki vs. Gesias Calvancante, Cung Le vs. Frank Shamrock

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Tim Sylvia

4. Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver

3. Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith

2. Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin

1. Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda

Best Fight Card

5. WEC 34: Faber vs. Pulver

4. UFC 80: Rapid Fire

3. UFC 81: Breaking Point

2. DREAM 4

1. UFC 84: Ill Will

Upset of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Jason Day over Alan Belcher,

5. Thiago Alves over Karo Parisyan

4. Kevin Burns over Roan Carneiro

3. Fabricio Werdum over Gabriel Gonzaga

2. Josh Thomson over Gilbert Melendez

1. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson

Fighter Of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Michael Bisping, Georges St. Pierre, Diego Sanchez

5. Miguel Torres

4. Forrest Griffin

3. Thiago Alves

2. Shinya Aoki

1. B.J. Penn (2 Impressive wins over Sean Sherk and Joe Stevenson)

Best UFC Newcomer:

Honorable Mention: Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar

5. Rousimar Palhares

4. Dong Hyun Kim

3. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

2. Goran Reljic

1. Cain Velasquez

Worst Calls By A Ref. or Judges

5. Forrest Griffin over Quinton Jackson –  Not just that Forrest got the win, but that it was unanimous.  Many, including me scored the fight either a draw or to Jackson

4. Brandon Vera vs. Fabricio Werdum- Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in round 1 when Werdum was mounted on Vera throwing down punches.  There was just 10 seconds remaining and Vera seemed to be defending himself well. 

3. Nate Marquardt vs. Thales Leites — Leites got the win, but lost the fight.  He lost the fight due to two points taken away from Marquardt.  One point was justified, but the other was due to elbow to the back of the ehad that wasn’t to the back of the head.  I will confess, that another point could have fairly been deducted for an illegal slam, but I hated to see Marquardt get a loss on his record that I feel he won

2. Phantom split decisions — How was Evan Tanner vs. Kendall Grove a split deicsion?  How was Heath Herring vs Cheick Kongo a split decision?  The right person got the decision, but how was it split?

1. Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson – Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight in the 3rd round while Thompson was still standing and failed to stop it when Thompson was mounted on Kimbo raining down elbows

UFC 84: Ill Will Medical Suspensions

The medical suspensions for UFC 84 were released and there really isn’t anything too surprising.  I was a little surprised that Jardine wasn’t hurt worse than he was following being KO’s by Wanderlei Silva.  I also was shocked that Wilson Gouveia was beat up as bad as he was.  Apparently, Tito could have a broken hand or wrist as well.  I don’t know when he broke it, he certainly didn’t break it hitting Machida.  It is also possibe that Sean Sherk is healthy enough to fight on the UFC 87 card in Minnesota.  Could he be fighting Frankie Edgar on that card?

Sean Sherk — “The Muscle Shark” is suspended until July 9 and there is no contact until June 24 because of a right cheek laceration.

Keith Jardine — “The Dean of Mean” must clear a possible nasal fracture with a doctor or no contest until November 21. His minimum suspension and no contest will last until July 24 and there’s no contact until July 9.

Goran Reljic – The Croatian is suspended until June 24 and there is no contact allowed until June 15.

Wilson Gouveia — The American Top Team-trained fighter sustained nasal and maxillary sinus fractures that need to be cleared by an Ear Nose and Throat ENT specialist, as well as broken ribs that need to be cleared by a doctor, or no contest until November 21. His minimum suspension will last until July 24 and there is no contact allowed until July 9.

Tito Ortiz — “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” must have his left hand and wrist x-rayed and cleared by an orthopedic physician or no contest until November 21. His minimum suspension will last until July 9 and there is no contact allowed June 24 because of a right eyelid laceration.

Antonio Mendes — The Brazilian is suspended until June 24.

Kazuhiro Nakamura — The Japanese Judoka must clear a nasal fracture with a doctor there is no contest until November 21. There is a minimum no contest until July 9 and no contact until June 24.

Terry Etim — The British lightweight is suspend until June 24 and there is no contact allowed until June 15 because of a right cheek laceration.

Jason Tan — Tan must clear a nasal fracture with a doctor or no contest until November 21. There’s a minimum no contest until July 9 and no contact until June 24.

Christian Wellisch — “The Hungarian Nightmare is suspended until June 8 and there’s no contact allowed until June 1

New Talent in the UFC

One of the things that most excited me about UFC 84 was the display of new talent.  What a job by Dana White and the UFC finding new talent.  UFC 84 was a great display of hopefuls. I am stoked about it. Not only did 5 newcomers win their fights, but 2 guys who hadn’t won yet in the UFC won (Wanderlei and Sokoudjou). These newcomers won me over and I became fans of theirs.  The UFC has some top level new talent.  I liked rooting for these new guys and like seeing new talent coming in.  While we can be critical of the UFC losing some talent (Couture, Arlovski, Sylvia, and Ortiz), there are some new guys to replace them.  Let’s face it while the UFC has lost 4 or 5 stars in the past year, they have gained some future ones.  The guys they lost were past their prime anways.  Whata  job replacing lost talent.  The UFC needs to market these guys.  Put them on Spike’s UFC unleashed and put them on a fight night for people to see.  They all got good exposure at UFC 84 except Dong Hyun-Kim.  Let me say a word about the new guys in the UFC.

Shane Carwin: Out of the newcomers on the UFC 84 card Carwin was the most hyped.  I now know why.  He very well could hold a belt in the UFC one day.  I guess his back health is the one worry.  He is said to have great ground and pound and weaker striking.  He had one of the sickest KO’s I have seen with the mouthpiece flying out.  Shane Carwin is going to be super talented.  Can’t wait for his next fight.  Perhaps against the loser of the Vera vs. Werdum fight or a guy like Justin McCully or Collin Robinson.  Wuth an all around game like he has, the wrestling background, the athletic ability and the KO power he could be a glimmer of hope in a weak, weak divison.  The UFC has three bright stars up and coming in the heavyweight divison (Carwin, Lesnar and Velasquez) and somehow they have to delay them fighting each other and fighting top 3 talent as was learned in the Lesnar vs. Mir experiement. 

Yoshiyuki Yoshida: He very well could have killed Jon Koppenhaver in that fight.  That judo throw and the gator roll anaconda choke was awesome.  Usually your Japanese fighters have proven to be less than exciting and have not faired well in the UFC with the exception of Okami.  Yoshida will do fine and he is exciting.  I want to see him against slighly better competition because Koppenhaver was no match for him. Yoshida looked far superior in every way.  I wish he’s learn a little English though.  The post fight interview with Rogan was slightly awkward and a little English could help his marketability.  Perhpas he could fight a Burkman, Hazelett or maybe the Chonan vs. Carneiro winner is a good idea.  Yoshida will do fine in the UFC, great addidition and he and Kim could make UFC big bucks in the Asian market a la Bisping in England.

Dong Hyun-Kim:  Okay, so I watch Kim fight Jason Tan and all I can say is wow!  He is exciting, strong, and has vicious elbows.  He will be a serious force in the UFC.  He very well could be pitted against a guy like Karo next and I would consider picking Kim to win.  The UFC needs to decide if they think Kim can be something great in the welterweight divison, if they think he can they need to give him two more fights that he can win handily.  The flip side of that is beating a top 10 guy gives you instant credibility.  I know Jason Tan isn’t top level UFC talent, but man Kim looked amazing.  Why aren’t more people talking about that fight?  In my opinion, Kim could very well be the best of the newcomer bunch.  UFC 84 showcased some serious new talent and I am excited about Kim.  I liked him and am disappointed he wasn’t on the televised card.  I still hurt from watching his elbows.

Goran Reljic: Is the guy going to be mini-Cro Cop?  His kicks made me cringe.  Of course my knock on him would be all he showed was striking with the left side, but ouch those kids were hard.  Did you see how red Gouveia’s shoulder was?  I had Wilson Gouveia as ranked 12th in a stacked, stacked divison.  Reljic beat a top tier guy.  I don’t know how he would do against a guy like Thiago Silva or Machida, but he can strike with anyone.  He can take a hit too!!  Relijic has serious promise is this divison and does remind me of a slightly smaller and younger Cro Cop.  The Croatian can improve.  If I was him I would get with some different trainer for a bit to diversify.  I would think Xtreme Couture would be a great idea for him.  However, he is a contender right now!  My question will be how can he handle a aggresive striker or a wrestler like Matt Hammil?  Time will tell.  His future is bright.  I think a Sokoudjou match would be interesting, but I reckon he won’t get that highly ranked of a guy next.  Perhaps the Cane vs. Lambert winner. 

Rousimar Palhares: I know Ivan Salaverry isn’t what he once was, but that arm bar may well have been the best submission I have seen in a while.  He controlled Salaverry from start to finish.   He may be one of the best jiu jitsu guys in the UFC.  I wonder how he would do against another jiu jitsu guy like Demian Maia?  My question will be striking for Palhares.  I wondered why he didn’t soften Ivan up with strikes to the face while he was trying to sink in that choke.  He seemed pretty one-dimensional.  That dimension is top level and then some though.  He was a bright spot on the great card.  Can’t wait to see him in action again.

Antonio Mendes: He is the lone newcomer that lost at UFC 84.  Let me say just two things though.  First, he lost to in my opinion the most underrated light heavyweight and a guy that may well hold the title one day.  Second, he did very, very well.  He rocked Thiago.  His striking looks great.  I hope the UFC saw that and gives him another chance against a slighly less talented guy.  Give Mendes a chance to win against some poor sacrifical lamb in the light heavyweight divison.

Other New Talent:

Cain Velasquez: Many people say the UFC Hevayweight divison has collapsed.  I have said that.  The UFC has lost its champ in Couture and two of it’s top 5 talents in Tim Sylvia and probably Andrei Arlovski.  Mir isn’t what he used to be.  Cro Cop just didn’t work out well.  However, Carwin, Velasquez and Lesnar I believe are a step up in the long run.  Couture was great and I am a fan, but he in 44.  Sylvia is past his prime and Arlovski hadn’t shown consistency.  Cain Velasquez is going to be a star in this divison and it is prime for the taking.

Brock Lesnar: Lesnar is the one of those three new guys in the heavyweight divison to lose, but he lost to Mir and in that loss he showed he can fight.  He is the one of the three guys also that can draw a crowd more than anyone.  He could be UFC’s next biggest star.  We will see how he does against Herring. 

Chris Wilson: Wilson looked good in his loss to Fitch and I believe can do very well in the UFC.  I think he can be a top level guy.  Time will tell with Wilson.

UFC 84: Ill Will Thoughts

I have several thoughts about UFC 84: Ill Will.  Here they go…

  • I was stoked to see the UFC show so many cards on pay-per view.  I believe 9 fights were aired.  I liked it a lot.  Of course it was because there were notmany drawn out decision fights.  I was gald to see Sokoudjou and Carwin’s fights.  It helps the UFC and their careers to get the attention.
  • B.J. Penn looked amazing.  We didn’t even see his jiu-jit su.  He looked crisp in striking.  He was quick and he wore out Sherk with striking.  His cardio looked great too.  B.J. called for the G.S.P. fight and that could be interesting.  Could B.J. hold two belts at the same time?
  • I don’t know what Sherk was doing.  After the fight he said he stayed standing because he was doing well striking.  What fight was he watching?  He could’t reach B.J.  He should have used his wrestling more.
  • How about the show of class between Penn and Sherk.  After many heated words B.J. hugged Sherk and invited him to train in Hawaii
  • Wanderlei is back.  He rocked Jardine.  Jardine was out cold.  And what a classy individual is Wandy.  He is what makes MMA special.  You cannot help but to like him.  He was really concerned for his opponent.  He is humble.  I am a Wanderlei fan.  I will root for a Wanderlei vs. Rampage fight in UFC.  It could happen and the UFC could market it as Rampage’s revenge.  That opens up many scenarios.  If Wandy wins he could get Chuck again for the title.  Still possible he drops down for the Silva vs. Silva match.
  • Lyoto Machida was great against Tito.  Some accuse him of running, but he was elusive.  He was smart.  Tito couldn’t hit him.  He was fast.  He picked his shots well against Tito.  Lyoto is the real deal and will get a big fight next.  He beat Tito bad and I am glad.
  • Who knows what all realyl went on in the UFC after fight press conference with Tito.  Tito is a loud mouthed jerk. 
  • Thiago Silva has a tough chin.  Mendes may be for real, but Thiago is really for real.  He is a top 10 light heavyweight and is in the mix for a title.  He will get a top tier guy next. 
  • Goran Reljic looked great.  He can kick hard.  He has KO power.  If he can learn to vary his kicks more he is a contender.  I moved him into my top 15 from that fight.  I’d like to see him vs. Hammil.
  • Palhares is a force at middleweight.  What an amazing arm bar!  He better improve his striking though. He should have thrown some punches while trying to sink in that choke.  Nevertheless, oen of the best jiu-jitsu guys in the UFC
  • Shane Carwin’s KO of Wellish was sick.  His bread and butter is ground and pound and he didn’t even show it.  He will be a heavyweight force.
  • Yoshida looked great against Koppenhaver.  That choke was textbook.  We will see how he does against more serious competition.
  • Kim will also be a force at welterweight
  • Sokoudjou won…yay!  He didn’t look great, but he won, apparently with a hurt knee.  He called for Shogun, but I hope he doesn’t get him.  I want both those guys to do well in the UFC.  One of them losing would hurt their UFC careers bad.  I’d give Shogun someone like Wilson Gouveia or Stephan Bonnar to get a win under his belt.  And Shogun wants Liddell.
  • This may have helped the UFC roster cuts.  Look for Salaverry, Koppenhaver, and Tan to be canned.  Also, Nakamura may be done as could Etim. 

Tournaments in the UFC

What if UFC had a 16 man tournament.  In other words a little bigegr version of what DREAM is doing with lightweights and middleweights.  A tournament would doa  lot of good things.  It would give an underdog the chance to win and fight the top dog.  You would have to have some type of ranking to do it and seed the guys like with the NCAA basketball tournament.  It would ease match making.  It would give exciting fights and intriguing possibilites.  Can you imagine all the possible scenarios of what could happen and who could fight one another?  I bet guys would fight passionatley.  There would be upsets.  So…I played around and came up with this…I took my 16 top guys in each class and made a bracket.  The fight one winner will fight the fight 2 winner and so on…

Lightweight:

Round One Match ups:

B.J. Penn vs. Rich Clementi

Clay Guida vs. Gray Maynard

Marcus Aurelio vs. Frank Edgar

Kenny Florian vs. Manny Gamburyan

Sean Sherk vs. Spencer Fisher

Nate Diaz vs. Joe Stevenson

Joe Lauzon vs. Tyson Griffin

Roger Huerta vs. Mac Danzig

Welterweight:

Georges St. Pierre vs. Chris Lytle

Thiago Alves vs. Mike Swick

Karo Parisyan vs. Matt Serra

Josh Koscheck vs. Ryo Chonan

Jon Fitch vs. Roan Carneiro

Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fiorvanti

Marcus Davis vs. Akihiro Gono

Matt Hughes vs. Chris Wilson

Middleweight:

Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites

Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Quarry

Patrick Cote vs. Ricardo Almeida

Yushin Okami vs. Demian Maia

Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner

Nate Marquardt vs. Jason MacDonald

Chris Leben vs. Michael Bisping

Dan Henderson vs. Jorge Rivera

Light Heavyweight:

Quinton Jackson vs. Goran Reljic

Mauricio Shogun Rua vs. Matt Hammil

Wanderlei Silva vs. Sokoudjou

Chuck Liddell vs. Houston Alexander

Keith Jardine vs. Jame Irvin

Forrest Griffin vs. Wilson Gouveia

Thiago Silva vs. Rashad Evans

Lyoto Machida vs. Stephan Bonnar

Heavyweight:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dan Evenson

Cheick Kongo vs. Eddie Sanchez

Heath Herring vs. Cain Velasquez

Frank Mir vs. Christian Wellish

Fabricio Werdum vs. Antoni Hardonk

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shane Carwin

Brock Lesnar vs. Justin McCully

Brandon Vera vs. Neil Wain

 

This all could make some interesting match-ups.  What you would do would be take all five divisons and make 5 fight cards with 8 fights each.  You could split them up or have a “lightweight card”.  5 cards would finish round one.  Then you could have two 10 fight card and that would finish round two.  Then you could have another card that would do the semi-final match ups and another card for the championships.  Try making an un-televised undercard out of any of these fights.  That would be awesome.  Of course you could put more thought into match ups and potential second and third round “dream match up” in where you placed fighters, but it is a great idea.  The one flaw is that if the UFC had one card a month this tournament would take 9 months to finish and that would keep a lot of fighters from fighting in that time.  I guess you could break it up and have non-tournament fights mixed in there too.  Just food for thought…