Where Does the Depleted Heavyweight Division Go From Here?

Posted: October 24, 2013 in MMA
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Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

Cain and Junior put on a show Saturday night, and it was a good one. The outcome was not a favourable one for the UFC. The heavyweight division is at a place where there are two or three elite heavyweights, and then everyone else. A watered down division and a lack of serious contenders have left the UFC with a what to do about Junior Dos Santos situation.

If you look at the top ten in the UFC heavyweight division there are very few fighters who are in the position, and capable of challenging Cain for the title. You have Dos Santos, Cormier, Werdum, Silva, Browne, Barnett, Overeem, Mir, Miocic and Nelson making up the top ten.

Cormier has made his intentions clear; he will be making the drop to the 205 division and trying his luck down there. He has said over-and-over again that he will not fight Cain no matter what. That is arguably the division’s best prospect gone.

Werdum is waiting in the wings and will most likely get the next shot at Cain. This fight is going to be very difficult to promote; Werdum does not have much drawing power. Werdum was in a position where he was the only one in the top ten who was not either leaving the division, in a fight already, coming off a loss or just plain not ready.

Silva was beaten by Cain twice, and the way the fights went there is not going to be anyone calling for that fight anytime soon. Also, he will headline UFC Fight Night on December 6th in a fight with Mark Hunt. Even if he destroyed Mark Hunt he is years away from another fight with Cain.

Browne and Barnett will meet at UFC 168, and the winner will more than likely be at the top of a very short list of contenders. The division is so shallow that the loser of this fight will probably still only be a fight or two away from a title shot.

Overeem is ranked #7 in the top ten, and his only UFC win came over Brock Lesnar. He is currently 1-2 and is coming off two loses. His next fight with Frank Mir is likely a win or go home situation, and yet. Mir his opponent is also in the same boat; he has not won inside the octagon in almost two years and is coming off three consecutive losses.

Miocic is a good, up and coming prospect but is nowhere near ready to take on a fighter like Cain. He is likely two or three fights away from UFC brass even considering him in a title fight conversation.

Finally, Roy Nelson—Roy is not anywhere near getting a title shot or even being considered for a title shot. He dropped an upset loss to Miocic, and this past Saturday he was completely outclassed by Daniel Cormier. So coming off back-to-back losses, he is multiple fights away from that discussion.

So, what does Dana do with Junior? He is pretty clearly to this point the second best heavyweight. In the top ten, there is only Werdum and the winner of Barnett/Browne who are even close to a title fight. Where does Junior go from here? This is a very difficult situation.

Junior has fought Cain three times, and in the final two fights he was beaten from pillar to post. They were not even close, so much so that I am sure another one would be a difficult sell for the UFC. They could try to use Junior as a launching pad for one of the other fighters in the division, but who? Junior will steamroll the rest of the top ten with maybe the exception of Barnett who’s style is a terrible match up for Junior.

I think there will inevitably be a fourth and depending on how that goes a fifth fight possibly. Dos Santos is going to have to wait a year, or maybe two so that the UFC can form some marketable angle, but with the state of the division I do not see the UFC being able to prevent it.

The heavyweight division is in trouble; when the number 7 and 8 fighters in the division are virtually in a win or go home situation. That says a lot about the depth of the division.

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