The Sad State of the UFC Heavyweight Division
By Jaime C. Feal
You know you have problems when Frank Mir gets an instant title shot. In his last fight, Mir got stunned and dropped badly on the feet by Antonio Nogueira, and then pulled off an incredible Hail Mary submission after regaining his wits. Alistair Overeem, the man formerly in line for a title shot, recently had his continuance request denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Overeem will be suspended for elevated testosterone levels for at least a half a year, and his loss is Frank Mir’s gain.
But seriously, does anyone think Mir has what it takes to beat Junior Dos Santos? Dos Santos is the most fearsome striker in the heavyweight division, a knockout artist with lighting quick hands and vicious power. To date, he has not found an equal on his feet, and with great takedown defense, someone at least has to get his respect standing up before they can take him down. Mir is not that opponent. The UFC hype machine will have you believe Mir is super dangerous, having submitted Junior Dos Santos’s jiu jitsu coach Big Nog in devastating fashion. Using the same logic, however, one can say that if said jiu jitsu coach so badly out-boxed Frank Mir, what is the best boxer in the division, Junior Dos Santos, going to do to Mir?
UFC President Dana White has been scrambling to announce and hype Heavyweight matchups on his Twitter account. This is what we call damage control. The new #1 contender match is going to be at UFC 146 where Cain Velasquez, the man who got obliterated by JDS in his last fight, fighting against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, a man whose career highlight is beating an undersized, washed up Fedor. Bigfoot Silva also got smashed in his last fight by Daniel Cormier, who dispatched of Silva with a first round KO. A #1 contender match between Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva is underwhelming, to say the least.
In an earlier article, we discussed how Cormier and fellow Strikeforce Heavyweight Josh Barnett need to be integrated into the UFC roster immediately. http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/where-have-you-gone-brock-lesnar/
This is even more apparent when one examines the lack of depth on the UFC heavyweight roster. Another featured matchup on the all heavyweight UFC 146 main card was tweeted by Dana White, and has Roy Nelson taking on Gabriel Gonzaga. Nelson, God bless him, is six feet tall, extremely overweight, and out of shape. He is a middleweight who ate too many cheeseburgers, and will never contend for a title unless he can drop to light heavy or middleweight. Gabriel Gonzaga isn’t impressing anyone either, as he is a journeyman heavyweight at best, and is way past the prime of his career.
Herein lies the problem with the UFC Heavyweight division: If you can’t picture one, if not both, of the fighters in a given matchup moving up the ladder towards a title shot, you have an irrelevant fight. The UFC Heavyweight division is filled with has-beens on the downward arch of their career, putting on fights for their loyal fans but really not developing the heavyweight title picture in the least. The UFC Heavyweight division is in a sad state of affairs, and unless the status quo is changed by bringing in more talent, things are not going to improve any time soon.