UFC: Future of the Heavyweight Division

Fight fans have been marveling over a possible Daniel Cormier and Brock Lesnar fight since 2018 when they had a showdown in the octagon. That happened at UFC 226 after Cormier captured the UFC heavyweight title from Stipe Miocic. However, two weeks ago, UFC president Dana White made statements that Brock Lesnar had retired. And that fight would not be happening. Instead a rematch with Miocic would be Cormier’s next fight.

Cormier (22-1, 1 NC) stated on numerous occasions in the past that he would retire from fighting at age 40. He then turned 40 this past March. On Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Monday May 6th, Helwani mentioned to Cormier that “Dana White has repeatedly said there’s three fights left for you potentially. There’s Brock, there’s Stipe, and there’s Jon (Jones).” Lesnar called it quits so that fight is off the table. The Miocic fight is being targeted for UFC 241 in Anaheim, California on August 17th. That leaves only the fight against Jon Jones, for which Cormier has stated he will go back down to light heavyweight to compete in.

Cormier has an excellent chance to defend his heavyweight title and then vacate the belt finishing off as undefeated in his MMA career in that division. He would then drop down to 205 pounds to face Jones, the only fighter to beat him in his prolific career and round off their trilogy of fights. This would leave the heavyweight division in flux and ripe for a new competitor to come in and dominate. But who might it be that steps up and becomes the next great heavyweight champ?

Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou the current number two ranked UFC heavyweight is quickly making a name for himself. The native of Cameroon has exhibited exceptional knockout power in the past. His highlight reel knockouts which send opponents flying earned him the moniker “The Predator”. He has fought for the title in the past though. That resulted in a loss via decision to Miocic back when he was the champ. That fight was followed up by a lackluster loss via decision to Derrick Lewis. While people were starting to lose faith in Ngannou he came back stronger than ever. He won both of his next fights via TKO against Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez, both very formidable opponents. Ngannou (13-3) next fights against Junior Dos Santos at UFC 239 on July 6th. With a win against Dos Santos, he will almost certainly put his name as the front runner for a title shot.

Curtis Blaydes

The 28-year-old Curtis “Razor” Blaydes brings some youth to the UFC heavyweight division. Although he did lose to Ngannou via TKO back in November of 2018, he followed that up with an impressive victory. He won via decision against Justin Willis in a fight which he absolutely controlled throughout. Blaydes (11-2, 1 NC) currently sits at number four in the heavyweight division. And if Cormier happens to vacate the title and retire, it may be Blaydes and Ngannou fighting for the interim heavyweight title!

Junior Dos Santos

Don’t sleep on the wily veteran! Junior Dos Santos (21-5) who held the UFC heavyweight title from November 2011 to December 2012, is still very relevant in the division. He won his last three fights in a row. The last two of which came via TKO. He has been around the MMA world for quite some time and has had his fair share of ups and downs. That includes 15 wins by knockout and five first-round finishes. But the fight against Ngannou at UFC 239 will determine a lot. A win could get him back to a title or possibly an interim title shot.

The Next Heavyweight Up…

With Daniel Cormier’s MMA career coming to a close, the door is left wide open for someone else to step up in the UFC heavyweight division. Blaydes, Dos Santos, and Ngannou will all be in the running. And their careers look to be intertwined at least for the foreseeable future. Or maybe some new, up and coming fighter will rise up from obscurity. The only thing that’s for sure, is nothing’s for sure!

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