State of the UFC’s heavyweight division entering 2021

MMA, Stipe Miocic

2021 will usher in a new day in the heavyweight division. As we enter January 2021, it has been three years since UFC heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic (20-3), fought someone not named Daniel Cormier (22-3, 1 NC).

At UFC 220 back in January of 2018, Miocic defended his title against Francis Ngannou (15-3). Ngannou was being billed as the next big thing having destroyed every contender the UFC had put in front of him.

However, Miocic showed off his greatness that night shutting out the French contender. However, Miocic would lose his title in the summer of 2018 when he was knocked out in the first round by Daniel Cormier.

The UFC then angled for Cormier to face Brock Lesnar in a superfight. The proposed matchup with Lesnar was supposed to be Cormier’s last UFC fight. The fight never materialized and Cormier went on to defend his title against Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC).

Cormier defeated Lewis and waited for the Lesnar fight. Again, it never came together so Cormier decided to give Stipe Miocic a rematch at UFC 241. After dominating the fight early, Cormier got knocked out by Miocic in the fourth round.

After that fight, Miocic needed to take some time off. A year later, Miocic and Cormier finished their trilogy at UFC 252 in Cormier’s last fight. Miocic won the fight by unanimous decision cementing himself as the heavyweight GOAT.

UFC’s heavyweight division in 2021

With the Miocic – Cormier trilogy behind us, it’s time for the UFC’s heavyweight division to move on in 2021. However, Miocic will face a familiar foe in his first title defense of the year. He will once again take on Francis Ngannou.

Ngannou’s losses to Miocic then Derrick Lewis might have been the best thing for him. He’s rededicated himself to the sport and he’s looked untouchable since. After losing a decision to Lewis, Ngannou is 4-0 with four first round knockouts.

Not only that, but none of those opponents have gone more than 71 seconds. The UFC’s predator looks better than ever and he’s expected to face Miocic in March for the heavyweight title.

Another exciting aspect of the heavyweight division in 2021 is the arrival of Jon Jones (26-1,1 NC). Jones is widely considered to be the greatest fighter of all-time and he’s finally decided to move up to heavyweight.

After reigning over light heavyweight for nearly a decade, Jones is preparing for a shot at the heavyweight title. He’s expected to face the winner of Miocic – Ngannou over the summer or early next fall.

Other Contenders

Behind Jones there are a number of compelling contenders. Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) are expected to faceoff in 2021. They were supposed to fight in November, however, Blaydes tested positive for COVID and the fight was scrapped.

Both contenders have multiple fight winning streaks. A win for either man would put them in great position. The guy to really watch out for is Ciryl Gane (7-0). Gane just knocked out JDS at UFC 256 and is poised to be a top contender.

Of course, Alistair Overeem (47-18, 1 NC) and Alexander Volkov (32-8) are two others to watch out for. They headline a Fight Night in February. Of course there’s still Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1) out there who’s ranked third at heavyweight at the moment.

Miocic is finally done with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones is entering the heavyweight picture. Francis Ngannou looks better than ever and there’s a ton of hungry and dangerous contenders behind him. Should be a fun year at heavyweight in 2021.

UFC: Should Jon Jones take a heavyweight tune-up fight?

UFC, Jon Jones

Arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time is going through a career transformation. Former UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) is currently preparing his move to the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

The former light heavyweight champion vacated his title this year due to his desire to move up in weight. Jones has had some run-ins with the UFC this year where he asked for a release, but those talks have since faded.

Jonny Bones wanted to fight top heavyweight contender, Francis Ngannou after the pandemic had started. However, he wanted a bump in his pay which the UFC was not willing to do which caused a spat between the two sides.

Again, there seems to be no more bad blood between the two. Now, Jones is focused on getting stronger as he prepares to chase down heavyweight gold. Dana White said Jones would get a UFC heavyweight title shot whenever he makes his debut at heavyweight.

However, he could be waiting a while. Francis Ngannou is slated to take on the champion, Stipe Miocic, early next year. Currently that heavyweight title fight is being targeted for March, however, it’s not been officially announced.

That means that at the earliest, Jones likely wouldn’t get a shot at the heavyweight crown until the summer. At that point, Jones would have been out of the cage for at least 16 months. So, should Jon Jones take a tune-up fight at heavyweight?

What should the UFC and Jones do?

I’m going to say the same thing that Dana White said in that Jones should be fighting for the UFC‘s heavyweight title in his divisional debut. However, 16+ months is a long layoff for Jones who has already experienced lengthy layoffs in his career.

Let’s say Jones wants to get in a fight before the title fight. Who should the UFC pair him against? Many were saying that Jones could fight the winner of UFC Vegas 15’s main event which featured Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis.

That main event was scrapped after Blaydes tested positive for COVID. That fight is currently being re-booked for either December or January. Personally, I think it would make a lot of sense if Jones were to fight the winner.

Whoever wins that fight would be on a multiple fight winning streak. The winner of that fight would have likely been the number one contender after Ngannou if Jones wasn’t in the picture.

Reality of the situation is that the UFC will likely hold Jones until he can get a title shot. I think the winner of the Blaydes/Lewis fight will likely fight someone like Jairzinho Rozenstruik next as opposed to fighting Jon Jones.

Breaking: UFC Vegas 15 Main Event is off

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

Shortly after we published our UFC Vegas 15 main event preview, news broke that the fight is off. Per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) has tested positive for COVID-19 and the main event tomorrow has been cancelled.

Blaydes was scheduled to fight The Black Beast, Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC). The fight was a huge fight for the UFC‘s heavyweight division as both men were entering the cage on multiple fight winning streaks.

In addition to that, both men were currently inside the UFC‘s top four. The winner was expected to be on the shortlist of contenders for a future title shot. However, we now know that we will have to wait on this one.

What is the UFC’s plan?

According to Helwani’s tweet, the UFC is currently working on booking this fight for sometime in December. To me, it makes all the sense in the world to book this fight on the main card of the UFC 256 PPV.

That card has taken a lot of hits including losing three title fights. The card’s main event features a flyweight title fight. In addition, Tony Ferguson returns as he takes on Charles Oliveira.

However, the card could use just a little more juice. Considering the UFC‘s December 19th card is already stacked, the December 12th card makes all the sense in the world. This is a crushing blow to the UFC Vegas 15 card.

The promotion will now move forward with Anthony Smith – Devin Clark as the main event of the evening. While that is expected to be a decent fight, in my opinion, it wasn’t even worth being a co-main event.

The UFC was going to struggle tomorrow taking on the Tyson – Jones Jr boxing main event, and now they just lost their heavyweight clash. Tough break for the promotion, but we will just have to see how this plays out.

UFC Vegas 15 Preview: Derrick Lewis – Curtis Blaydes

Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC Vegas 15, we have a heavyweight showdown that the MMA world is talking about. Top four contenders Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) and Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) will be going to battle.

This fight is a pivotal matchup for the UFC‘s heavyweight division. The winner of this fight will be on the short list of contenders for an upcoming shot at the UFC‘s heavyweight title. Both men having winning streaks that they are looking to continue.

For the Black Beast, he’s looking to pickup his fourth consecutive win in the UFC. Coming into this matchup, Lewis is coming off of a second round knockout over Alexey Oleynik that took place back in August.

The win was the third straight for Lewis. The Black Beast became the UFC’s heavyweight knockout king that night. Since making his promotional debut back in 2014, he’s only won a decision four times while scoring eleven knockouts in that time.

Blaydes on the other hand will be going into tomorrow night on a four fight winning streak. The only man to have defeated Blaydes in his professional career is top UFC heavyweight, Francis Ngannou. Ngannou was able to stop Blaydes both times they fought.

Razor Blaydes is known for his dominant wrestling and his tremendous ground and pound. He’s also really showed improvements in his hands although he’s made it clear that he does not plan on standing with the knockout king at UFC Vegas 15.

UFC Vegas 15 Prediction

The headliner at UFC Vegas 15 is relatively easy to pick in my opinion. The fight is going to go one of two ways. Either Derrick Lewis is going to catch Blaydes and knock him out, or we are going to see a wrestling clinic with Blaydes getting his hand raised.

If Lewis wins tomorrow night, UFC fans will be talking about a knockout. If Blaydes wins, we will be discussing his efficiency and his dominant wrestling. There is a chance that Blaydes can get a TKO finish tomorrow night. However, only if Lewis completely gasses out.

If Derrick Lewis is going to win tomorrow night, he’s gonna have to catch Blaydes coming in. If he can’t catch him, I don’t see the fight going well. Lewis struggles with wrestlers and Blaydes is arguably the best in the division. I can definitely see Lewis catching him, but smart money is on Blaydes.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes by Unanimous Decision

UFC: Curtis Blaydes says he would need a raise to fight Jon Jones

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

This weekend at UFC Vegas 15, two top four heavyweights will go to battle. Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (14-2,1 NC) will take on The Black Beast, Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC), in a fight that means a big deal for the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

Blaydes is looking to build back a little bit of his reputation after his last performance. Back in June, Blaydes took on Alexander Volkov looking to pick up his fourth straight win inside the octagon.

Going into that contest, Blaydes had back to back brutal finishes over Shamil Abdurakhimov and Junior Dos Santos. Just a few fights prior, he also had a brutal TKO victory over former title challenger Alistair Overeem.

Blaydes went into fight week talking about the fact that he should be fighting for the title. Of course, that’s crazy in theory considering the number one contender in the division has finished Blaydes twice.

Nevertheless, the confident wrestler believed he deserved a title shot. After saying a lot during fight week, Blaydes performance left much to be desired. He got the victory, but didn’t look impressive. Dana White definitely didn’t walk away impressed after the performance. 

Asking the UFC for more money?

If Blaydes picks up the victory this weekend, it would be his fifth straight UFC victory. In theory, he would be the clear number one contender after Francis Ngannou. However, he likely won’t be.

Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) recently vacated his light heavyweight title to move up to heavyweight. Dana White has already said that Jon Jones would fight for the title in his first appearance in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

This would put Blaydes third in line despite having won five in a row. Some have floated the idea of the UFC booking Blaydes against Jones in a headliner to get Jones a heavyweight fight and determine the true top contender.

However, Blaydes has conditions if that fight was to be offered. He wants more money. “I’m not going to fight Jon Jones for $200,000. That’s ridiculous. I think a lot of people forget that we get paid what we get paid regardless. I can fight a bum and make $200,000,” Blaydes told Aaron Bronsteter. 

Wrong mentality?

With all due respect to Curtis Blaydes, this is the second time he’s shoved his foot in his mouth on fight week. Blaydes’ boss, Dana White, loves guys who relish opportunities to do something great. Imagine if Blaydes was the first in the UFC to truly beat Jon Jones.

Instead of relishing at that chance, Blaydes is saying he would only take the fight for more money. Blaydes has several things working against him: he’s not a draw, he’s not a champion, he’s not on Dana White’s good side.

I understand that Blaydes wants a title shot and he wants to get paid. However, he’s going about everything the wrong way. If the UFC calls and offers Blaydes Jon Jones. He needs to jump unless he believes in his mind that he has no shot.

If he truly believed that he could defeat Jon Jones, wouldn’t he jump at that chance? Imagine what a win over Jones could do for his career. Blaydes could become a star leading into his title shot to do that. Demanding a raise could end up seeing him on the sidelines as Jones gets his title shot.

At the end of the day, I completely respect what Curtis Blaydes is doing. He could win his fifth in a row this weekend and he has every right to ask for more. However, I would strongly advise him to not let money get in the way of a potential opportunity to welcome Jon Jones to heavyweight.

State of the heavyweight division ahead of UFC Vegas 15

MMA, Stipe Miocic

This weekend at UFC Vegas 15, Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) and Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) will go head to head in a battle of top four contenders. The winner of this weekend’s fight will be squarely in the title picture.

However, the heavyweight division seems to be paused at the moment. Francis Ngannou (15-3) is the clear number one contender in the UFC‘s heavyweight division. Yet, his title fight has not been booked.

Ngannou has only fought once since the middle of 2019. He has been patiently waiting as the UFC‘s heavyweight title has been tied up for the last two years with the trilogy of Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Daniel Cormier.

Back at UFC 252, Miocic was able to finish off the trilogy with a unanimous decision win over Cormier. However, Miocic needed a little time off after the fight was over which has extended the layoff for Ngannou.

Ngannou has come out this week voicing his frustrations about his prime being wasted. The current plan is for the UFC to book the heavyweight title fight for sometime either in March or April. However, that is not confirmed.

UFC’s GOAT moving up

There’s another interesting wrinkle that’s been thrown into the UFC‘s heavyweight division and that’s Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world recently vacated his light heavyweight title to move up to heavyweight. 

Jones has his eyes on the UFC heavyweight title, and it’s been said that he will get a title shot in his first shot at heavyweight. However, Jones will not jump Ngannou which means we likely won’t see Jones competing for the title until the summer.

That being said, what does this weekend’s fight really mean? Without Jones, the UFC Vegas 15 winner would likely get the next shot after Ngannou. However, since Jones is moving up, the winner this weekend will likely be third in line.

Assuming either guy wouldn’t want to wait nearly a year for their title shot, the winner will likely have to take another fight. So what are the options for the winner? Well, there are a couple of options.

One option would be for the winner to take on Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1). Rozenstruik doesn’t have a fight booked and he’s coming off of a knockout win over Junior Dos Santos. There’s not a clear next opponent for him and he hasn’t fought either man in this weekend’s main event.

Another option would be for the winner to take on the winner of the Alistair Overeem – Alexander Volkov fight in February. Some rematches can materialize with that possibility.

I think the UFC will likely book the winner this weekend against Rozenstruik. We know that the winner this weekend isn’t getting a title shot and they’re not fighting Jones. Keep the winner active, and let them fight Rozenstruik.

Derrick Lewis looks to extend heavyweight knockout record at UFC Vegas 15

Back in August at UFC Vegas 6, Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1NC) became the promotion’s heavyweight knockout king. He earned that honor when he knocked out Alexey Oleynik in the second round of their heavyweight main event.

The victory was Lewis’ 11th knockout victory inside the UFC which pushed him passed Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos for soul possession of first. Quite the impressive honor for the heavyweight from Houston.

Lewis has become a fan favorite in the UFC for a number of reasons. Whether it’s his post-fight interviews which featured him taking his fight shorts off or his fighting style, The Black Beast has become must see TV.

Lewis will enter the octagon on Saturday night as the fourth ranked heavyweight in the UFC. He’s also on a three fight win streak and a victory on Saturday night could put him next in line after top contender Francis Ngannou. However, that task will not be easy.

UFC Vegas 15’s Tough Matchup

In order to secure his fourth straight win in the UFC, Lewis will have to take out the promotions second ranked heavyweight, Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC). There has only been one man to have derailed Blaydes in the UFC and that was Francis Ngannou.

Ngannou was able to finish Blaydes both times they’ve fought. However, outside of Ngannou, Blaydes has been a nightmare for the guys he’s fought. He’s used his wrestling and grappling skills to maul his opponents.

However, he’s also shown that his hands have gotten better. The Dos Santos knockout is proof of that. Still, Blaydes leans heavily on his wrestling attack and his vicious top game to neutralize and defeat his opponents.

Lewis is going to have to really show on Saturday that his takedown defense has gotten better. We’ve seen Lewis struggle inside the UFC against guys who want to take the fight to the ground.

The Black Beast struggled in his lone title shot against Daniel Cormier. He also struggled in the first round against Alexey Oleynik. However, with Lewis, he only needs one shot with the fight on the feet.

That’s what makes Saturday night so intriguing. On paper, you’d have to favor Blaydes because of the styles. However, it doesn’t matter how late we get into the fight, the heavyweight knockout king is always just one shot away from turning out the lights.

Two fights to make after UFC Vegas 9

UFC, Dana White

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 9, Alistair Overeem (47-18, 1 NC) stopped Augusto Sakai (15-2-1) in the fifth round of their heavyweight main event. Despite all the obstacles, I would say that the card delivered a solid night of action for the UFC.

One of the things that is popular around the water cooler on Monday is what’s next for the fighters of the past weekend’s UFC card. With that, let’s take a look at two fights that the promotion should look to book after UFC Vegas 9.

A UFC rematch with Overeem & Rozenstruik

The first fight that I think the UFC should look to book is a rematch between Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1). We just saw Rozenstruik back at UFC 252 where he knocked out Junior Dos Santos in their fight. Both contenders are ranked inside the top five.

These two men fought back in December at UFC on ESPN 7. In that fight, Overeem was getting the better of the fight and he was on his way to a decision win. However one massive shot in the final ten seconds of the fight gave the win to Rozenstruik.

Given the current state of the UFC‘s heavyweight division, a fight between the two men makes the most sense. Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) would have been another good option for Overeem, but Lewis is already booked to fight Curtis Blaydes in November.

Michel Pereira vs Anthony Pettis

If you’re not entertained when the UFC‘s Michel Pereira (24-11, 2 NC), I really don’t know what to tell you. Pereira is an absolute wild man with a wide range of powerful strikes. He used his skills to stifle and defeat Zelim Imadaev last weekend.

After the fight was over Pereira called out Jorge Masvidal. Hate to burst Pereira’s bubble, but that’s not happening. Pereira needs to get someone in the top fifteen in his next UFC outing though. Based on his techniques, I thought of someone interesting.

Pereira loves to throw flashy strikes like the showtime kick, so why not pair him against the man who made it famous? Anthony Pettis (23-10) is currently the 14th ranked welterweight in the UFC. The former lightweight champion doesn’t have an opponent at the moment.

A fight between the two men would pair two of the flashiest strikers in the UFC against each other. Men who aren’t afraid to jump off the sides of the cage to land something spectacular. It would also be a big fight for Pereira as he tries to advance his UFC career.

UFC: Derrick Lewis – Curtis Blaydes to headline Fight Night on November 28th

The UFC is finalizing a very important fight for the heavyweight division for November. Per Brett Okamoto, “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC) will be taking on Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) on November 28th.

UFC Title Eliminator?

The fight between Blaydes and Lewis pairs together the UFC‘s second and fourth ranked contenders at heavyweight. UFC 252 saw Stipe Miocic retain his title, and now the dominoes in the division are starting to fall into place.

Derrick Lewis just became the heavyweight knockout king at UFC Vegas 6 with his stoppage over Alexey Oleynik. Lewis came out like a bat out of hell in the second round to stop Oleynik in 21 seconds.

The win was Lewis’ third straight win. Lewis also has wins over Ilir Latifi and Blagoy Ivanov in this winning streak. Lewis is one of the more popular fighters in the UFC, and you can bet fans are hoping he gets another crack at UFC gold one day.

A big road block stands in his way in Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is coming off of a decision win over Alexander Volkov back in June at UFC on ESPN 11. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but Blaydes got the job done.

The win was the fourth in a row for Blaydes. Since his UFC debut back in 2016, the only man to defeat Blaydes inside the octagon is current top contender, Francis Ngannou. Ngannou has stopped Blaydes twice.

The fight between Lewis and Blaydes will likely determine who will get a title shot in early 2021. It’s clear that Ngannou will get the next shot unless the UFC pivots to Jon Jones. Either way, the Lewis – Blaydes fight has massive title picture implications.

Francis Ngannou is waiting as UFC 252 draws closer

Francis Ngannou

This Saturday night at UFC 252, perhaps the greatest trilogy in the promotions history comes to a head. Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier will go to battle for the third time. Both men have knocked the other out in the previous battles.

The fight has been characterized by Dana White as the fight to settle who is the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. While both men battle for that distinction, the most intimidating heavyweight in UFC history is patiently waiting in the wings.

The UFC’s Predator awaits his chance

In terms of resume, Cormier and Miocic are head and shoulders above the pack when it comes to being the best heavyweight. However, when it comes to intimidation, nobody is more terrifying than Francis Ngannou (15-3).

When Ngannou fights, it’s like watching a prime Mike Tyson. Everyone is on the edge of their seat with their eyes glued open. Don’t blink because he might remove someone from consciousness in that one blink.

Don’t believe me, ask former UFC heavyweight champions Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Andrei Arlovski. Or ask top UFC contenders Curtis Blaydes, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Alistair Overeem.

Incredible list of opponents right? Even more impressive when you consider the fact that Ngannou knocked all six of those men out in the first round. Not a single one of those UFC contests went past two minutes.

That is incredibly terrifying to think about. Now, Ngannou is not perfect as we saw in his fights with Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis. He dropped both of those by decision. I’m giving him a break on the Lewis fight because he just looked defeated after the Miocic fight.

Ngannou has never been better

Ngannou is even more dangerous now than ever before because he realizes his vulnerability. He realizes there is danger in fighting and a fighter who understands danger can become even more dangerous.

Ngannou is on a stretch right now where he’s 4-0 with four first round knockouts. Those fights have gone a combined 2:42. The Predator is the clear number one contender in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

No matter what the result is on Saturday, the next title shot should belong to Francis Ngannou. Whether Ngannou fights Miocic again or he fights Jon Jones or Derrick Lewis for the vacant championship after the winner retires. Regardless of who, The Predator is ready for his next shot at UFC gold.