The UFC Heavyweight division is one of the anomalies in the sport as all Top 10 fighters are over the age of 30.
Fabricio Werdum (#1) is the reigning champion and he will put the belt on the line in 2016 against Cain Velasquez (#2). Junior dos Santos (#3) is set to face Alistair Overeem (#9) in a clash of two of the top strikers in the division. Also, figuring into the title picture, Stipe Miocic (#4) is set to face Ben Rothwell (#8) in what promises to be a complete slobberknocker. Lastly, Andrei Arlovski fresh off a lackluster decision over Frank Mir could be waiting in the wings for a title shot should Cain suffer an injury.
Werdum stunned the MMA world when he unseated Cain Velasquez to become UFC Heavyweight champion. Werdum has gone 5-0 since re-signing with the UFC in 2012. At 38 years old, Werdum has hinted at retirement, but as long as he remains champion, it would not be surprising to see him fight until the age of 40.
Velasquez‘s reign as the baddest man on the planet came to an end earlier this year as he was dethroned by Fabricio Werdum. Cain’s injury woes have continued to haunt him as he has only fought 6 times in 5 years. Cain has been awarded a rematch against Werdum, but the true battle may be whether he can stay health enough to show up in top condition.
Junior dos Santos has gone through his fair share of battles over the last few years. He is coming off a decision win over Stipe Miocic in his last outing and does hold a previous victory over champion Fabricio Werdum, so should oft-injured Cain Velasquez fail to stay healthy, dos Santos may be the next man up. Dos Santos has recently switched camps to Nova Uniao in hopes of rounding out his overall game.
Stipe Miocic was rumored to be next in line for a title shot against Werdum, but those hopes were quickly put to rest after Velasquez was granted a rematch. Miocic is 4-1 in his last 5 fights with the only loss being a 5-round war against JDS.
Andrei Arlovski has experience a career resurgence similar to that of current champion Fabricio Werdum. Arlovski is 10-1 in his last 11 fights and 4-0 since re-signing with the UFC. Arlovski does hold a prior win over Werdum back in 2007, so should Cain suffer an injury, Arlovski figures to be a prime candidate to step in.
All signs were pointing to Travis Browne being the next title contender for a then-champion Cain Velasquez. In an upset, Fabricio Werdum picked apart Browne for the better part of 5 rounds to seize the title shot. Browne had a chance to get back in the title hunt, but he lost a thrilling firefight to Andrei Arlovski.
Mark Hunt‘s improbable run has finally come an end as he has struggled to a 1-3-1 record over the last couple of years. Hunt is still a threat to finish any fight with one thunderous punch, but for all intensive purposes the 41 year old should be eyeing up retirement.
Ben Rothwell could be a win away from title contention as he has finished his last 3 opponents (Mitrione, Overeem, Vera). Rothwell may not win pretty, but he has proven to be one of the toughest in the business.
Alistair Overeem is finally surging in the right direction as he has consecutive fights for the first time in his UFC career. Although, he has fallen far short of expectations, Overeem still has a golden opportunity to fight his way into title contention as he faces JDS in his next fight. It should also be mentioned that Overeem is the last man to defeat current champion Fabricio Werdum.
Most were calling for Mir to retire following 4 straight losses, but Mir proved he had a bit more left in the tank as he scored consecutive KO victories over Todd Duffee and Antonio Silva. Mir came up short in a lackluster fight against Andrei Arlovski, but he will likely continue to stave off retirement for a few more months as he tries to fight for the title one last time.
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