It doesn’t matter if it’s in boxing, kickboxing or MMA, the heavyweight division is seen as a glory division filled with highlight-reel knockouts. In the UFC, the heavyweight pool is slowly becoming shallow when it comes to fighters.
At the top of the food chain, there is Cain Velasquez (the champ) and Junior dos Santos. The two fighters have a combined record of 21-2 inside the octagon. One or the other has been in possession of the heavyweight title since 2010.
Dos Santos has beaten the likes of Frank Mir, a resurgent Mark Hunt, a now retired Shane Carwin, Roy Nelson and the list goes on and on. Velasquez has beaten Antonio Silva twice, Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and many more.
The only loss either of them has inside the octagon is to each other. The two will fight this Saturday on pay-per-view for a third time.
When we look at possible contenders for the title in it’s current state, there are only two who come to mind (Fabricio Werdum and Josh Barnett). Werdum has riding a three-fight win streak with wins against Nogueira, Mike Russow and Nelson. His only loss since a 2008 defeat to dos Santos was in a 2011 showdown with Alistair Overeem.
Barnett won his debut fight in the UFC against Mir. He last loss to Daniel Cormier in the conclusion of the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament. Barnett had a successful first stint in the UFC, winning the heavyweight title from Randy Couture in 2002.
Though there are only a few contenders in the division, there are a couple of prospects who will have a chance to make an impact at some point in the future. Travis Browne will be a force to reckon with soon enough. To date, his only loss has been to Silva. In that fight, Browne was injured and got knocked out.
Since his loss to Silva, he has knocked out both Gabriel Gonzaga and Overeem. The Overeem fight was ugly, but it showed Browne’s resilience after being hurt several times throughout the fight.
Browne has a fight against Barnett coming up, and a win there may propel him right into the contenders discussion.
Stipe Miocic is another fighter who will one day be in the discussion for contendership. The most notable victory under his belt is against Nelson. That is a fight were he really showed his intelligence, not allowing Nelson to land that big right hand he possesses.
Miocic still needs several wins before he can truly be considered a contender.
Mir, Silva and Overeem are all well-known fighters in the division, but right now, it’s hard to see them helping the division in a positive way. Mir and Overeem will be fighting soon in what may be a match for a job.
Silva is still relevant right now, but it will be hard for him to sustain that over a long period of time. He is 2-2 in the UFC with his only loses coming against Velasquez. He has beaten Overeem and Browne.