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?

 

My UFC 87 Thoughts and Results

  • Georges St. Pierre defeats Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision
  • Brock Lesnar defeats Heath Herring via Unanimous Decision
  • Kenny Florian defeats Roger Huerta via Unanimous Decision
  • Demian Maia defeats Jason MacDonald via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round Three
  • Rob Emerson defeats Manny Gamburyan via Knockout in Round One
  • Tamdan McCrory defeats Luke Cummo via Unanimous Decision
  • Cheick Kongo defeats Dan Evensen via TKO (Strikes) in Round One
  • Jon Jones defeats Andre Gusmao via Unanimous Decision
  • Chris Wilson defeats Steve Bruno via Unanimous Decision
  • Ben Saunders defeats Ryan Thomas via Submission (Armbar) in Round One
  • * I had a good night as far as predictions go, I predicted 8 of 10 correctly. 

    Submission of the Night: Demian Maia
    Knockout of the Night: Rob Emerson
    Fight of the Night: GSP & Jon Fitch ($60k each)

    My Disappointment of the Night: Manny Gamburyan or Andre Gusmao

    My Thoughts:

    • The Maia McDonald fight was a great battle in round one especially.  Maia is awesome.  I am seriously a believer.  I think he is a top flight middleweight and can contend for the belt.  His submissions are sick, he showed some great ground and pound skills.  He stood toe to toe.  Maia is a real deal fighter and he will get some respect now.
    • The Huerta vs. Florian fight was a good fight, but it wasn’t the fight of the year that it was billed to be.  I scored the fight 30-27 Florian as did the judges.  I believe the score doesn;t show how close the fight was, but Florian was clearly more technical and better all around.  Florian is now officially the number one contender in the UFC lightweight divison
    • Who would have predicted Emerson to KO Manny in 12 seconds?  I was disappointed with that.
    • Cheick Kongo is huge and I am glad his fight made it onto the card.  He looked good againt Evensen.  He is a top ten maybe top 5 heavyweight.  However, why call for the belt after you beat Dan Evensen?  Sorry Cheick get in line behind Werdum and beat someone of note.  You need some type of win streak to get a title shot. 
    • Brock Lesnar silenced any doubters.  He showed he has the skills to fight, and not just fight, but to win.  And not just to win, but to win against top tier fighters.  He has a lot of areas to improve upon.  He need to improve his submission skills.  He had a dominant position countless times and did nothing with it.  That comes from his wrestling background.  He needs to learn something about keeping the mount and dropping elbows.  He is strong as an ox.  He hits hard.  Man was that first punch hard!  I thought it was funny in the countdown Herring said, “I have fought bigger, stronger, better and more accomplished wrestlers.”  He was wrong.  He has not fought a wrestler of Brock’s calibur and strength and Brock dominated him.
    • I was disappointed with Lesnar’s WWE antics and unsportsman like conduct.   He shoved Herring away after round 1.  He acted like Herring at the end of the fight.  He pointed at him and laughed afterwards.  He acted like he was lasoing him.  I don’t have a problem with some of that.  I know adrenaline gets pumping and I know other fighters do things like act like the are burying a guy or the Barnett throat cut, but Lesnar needs to learn respect for his opponent. 
    • Speaking of respect for opponents how about the St. Pierre vs. Fitch fight.  A possible fight of the year candidate.  Fitch was out of his league.  He looked good a few minutes during the fight, but St. Pierre dominated.  The story following this is not as much St. Pierre winning and keeping his belt as it is Fitch’s toughness.  Fitch is one tough dude.  I gained respect for him.  How about the show of class between these two after the fight?  That is why I like St. Pierre. 
    • It looks like Penn vs. St. Pierre will indeed happen, hopefully in December.  Wow!  What a fight that will be. 

    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 News: Heath Herring vs. Brock Lesnar

    When the UFC announced Brock Lesnar’s next opponent as Mark Coleman, I thought it was the UFC’s attempt to get a win for Lesnar over a proven fighter, but one he could beat because he was past his prime.  Lesnar needs that win to earn the respect.  I think Brock will be a great fighter as he is a great athlete.  In my opinion, they put him in against a top guy to quickly.   He almost pulled out a win against Mir.  He needs a guy he can take down and ground and pound.  Coleman is out with a knee injury, so he was going to replace him?  I predicted it would be Justin McCully.  However, it looks to be Heath Herring.  There is good and bad to this math up.  The bad: Heath Herring is experienced and has fought the best of the best in his career, Herring is tough and can hang with top guys.  Herring nearly beat Nogueira and he beat Kongo.  We will see how Lesnar does taking a kick and a punch.  Herring seems to be renewed andlooked great against Kongo.  The good:  Herring is a good fighter and a win catapolts him into a state of being legit.  If he can get Herring down and get on him and beat him I think he will win.  This is interesting.  Brock needs a win here.  The other good is Brock will nearly always be much, much bigger than his opponent and will out wrestle anyone.  Good match up I think if it holds true. 

        This is shaping to be a good card.  I expect one more televised card worthy fight to be added.  That would mean we would have St. Pierre vs. Fitch.  Lesnar vs. Herring.  Huerta vs. Florian and one more good bout at least. 

    MMAWeekly.com has confirmed that Heath Herring has agreed to fight Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 on Aug. 9 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its debut in Minneapolis, Minn.

    Lesnar was originally slated to face UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman in the main event of UFC 87. Coleman, however, suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in training, which will sideline him for at least six weeks. He was forced to withdraw from the bout with Lesnar due to the injury.

    Herring has been on a roller coaster ride since his UFC debut in January of 2007. The former Pride heavyweight title contender has gone 2-2 in the Octagon, most recently defeating Cheick Kongo at UFC 82 in Columbus, Ohio.

    I disagree with MMAweekly, where they said on their site that Lesnar had a “less than stellar performance against Mir”.  I think Lesnar looked great. he just got caught.  He was beating Mir badly and even through a loss showed he is for real.  With some more training he will be a force.  I think of him as one of the up and coming guys in the UFC Heavyweight divison.  The fight with Herring is important. 

    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…

    Who Benefited Most From PRIDE’s Collapse?

    When PRIDE fell they were clearly the biggest competitors with the UFC, having many of MMA’s top guys.  They had some big time stars. Then PRIDE got into trouble and was bought by Zuffa.  So who benefited the most from PRIDE’s deminse?  There was a mad scramble to sign those guys who were now unemployed. I have been critical of the UFC’s ability to sign top PRIDE guys like Fedor, Gomi, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Arona, Kang, Mousasi, Melendez, etc. However, it looks like the UFC has done great due to PRIDE’s fall.  I ranked the PRIDE guys at the time of their collapse in order of who I would want to sign and the UFC benefited from it.  Now, the guys they have signed haven;t had huge success, but they are popular and will win eventually.  Can you imagine the UFC heavyweight divison without the influx of Nogueira, Werdum, and Herring???  The light heavyweight divison also was greatly boosted with the signings of Shogun, Wanderlei, Dan Henderson, Nakamura, and Sokoudjou.  UFC just struggles to get the lightweights. UFC signed 13 of those guys I listed and they have faired well, this doesn’t even include other guys who came in before the fall of PRIDE like “Rampage” Jackson.  Out of those guys you have some stars now in the UFC, some guys that can draw a crowd and one of them owns the belt (Nogueira).  DREAM and Affliction seemed to clean up what UFC couldn’t sign.  DREAM picked up the ligtweights, signing 8 of those PRIDE guys.  Affliction has a few signings.  So while I am critical of the UFC, let us give Dana and the UFC brass some credit for signing many of the top PRIDE guys.  I still would like to see the best of the best in one place, but it won’t happen, so this puts things into perspective and the UFC did good and benefited the most from PRIDE’s fall.

     

    Name

    Fight Organization Signed With

    Fedor Emelianenko

    Affliction

    Wanderlei Silva

    UFC

    Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

    UFC

    Mirko Cro Cop

    UFC (DREAM)

    Takanori Gomi

    World Victory Road

    Dan Henderson

    UFC

    Josh Barnett

    Affliction

    Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

    UFC

    Paulo Filho

    WEC

    Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

    HCF

    Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

    UFC

    Ricardo Arona

     

    Gilbert Melendez

    Strikeforce

    Fabricio Werdum

    UFC

    Gegard Mousasi

    DREAM

    Denis Kang

    DREAM

    Aleksander Emelianenko

    Affliction

    Marcus Aurelio

    UFC

    Akihiro Gono

    UFC

    Kauo Misaki

    DREAM

    Ricardo Almeida

    UFC

    Heath Herring

    UFC

    Joachim Hansen

    DREAM

    Ryo Chonan

    UFC

    Kazuhiro Nakamura

    UFC

    Tatsuya Kawajiri

    DREAM

    Mitsuhiro Ishida

    DREAM

    Alistair Overeem

    Strikeforce

    Kevin Randleman

     

    Phil Baroni

    EliteXC

    Hayato “Mach” Sakurai

    DREAM

    Murilio Bustamante

     

    Murilo “Ninja” Rua

    EliteXC