State of the UFC’s heavyweight division

MMA, Stipe Miocic

The last month has been incredibly busy for the UFC‘s heavyweight division. In the month of February alone, three fight nights were headlined by heavyweight clashes that shook up the heavyweight division.

However, outside of fighting, we also saw some big news come in last night regarding the heavyweights. The UFC released former heavyweight champion, Junior Dos Santos (21-9) and former title challenger, Alistair Overeem (47-19, 1 NC).

Both men were ranked inside the top 12 at heavyweight so the news is shaking up the rankings a bit. The release of JDS wasn’t surprising, but Overeem had just headlined UFC Vegas 18 against Alexander Volkov (33-8).

Volkov looked better than ever and stopped Overeem in the second round. However, Overeem had won two in a row prior so the decision to release was rather interesting. Nevertheless, Overeem is no longer with the promotion.

After Volkov’s big win, we saw UFC Vegas 19 which was headlined by Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) and Curtis Blaydes (14-3, 1 NC). Both of these men were looking to stake their claim as a top contender and that’s exactly what Derrick Lewis did.

After Curtis Blaydes easily won the first round, Lewis put him to sleep in the second round. Lewis is now tied for the most knockouts in UFC history and he’s ranked second in the heavyweight division.

Last weekend at UFC Vegas 20, we saw the conclusion of the heavyweight main events. Ciryl Gane (8-0) took on Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2). It was the only fight that went the distance and it lacked for action, but Ciryl Gane dominated his way into the top five at heavyweight.

State of the UFC’s heavyweight division

After all of these fight nights, there is a big more clarity in the heavyweight division. At the end of this month at UFC 260, Stipe Miocic (20-3) will take on Francis Ngannou (15-3) for the heavyweight championship in a rematch.

After this fight, we already know what is next. Regardless of the outcome, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) is getting the next crack at the heavyweight title. Jones vacated his light heavyweight championship to pursue the heavyweight title and he’s getting an immediate title shot.

I would say that whoever loses the title fight in March will likely face Derrick Lewis next. Lewis would be the number one contender if Jon Jones wasn’t moving up. Given where Stipe and Francis both stand, the UFC will likely let Lewis fight the winner after UFC 260.

With that, I believe that Volkov will likely be fighting Ciryl Gane next. Both are now ranked inside the top five and a win for either man would probably put them just one more win away from a title shot.

By the process of elimination, we could also see Curtis Blaydes and Rozenstruik fight next. Both are coming off of a loss, but both are still ranked inside the top six. The top of the heavyweight division is looking very exciting and I can’t wait to see how 2021 plays out for the big boys in the UFC.

UFC booking Ciry Gane – Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Ciryl Gane UFC

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a big heavyweight matchup. First reported by La Sueur, the promotion is booking a heavyweight clash between undefeated prospect, Ciryl Gane (7-0), and Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1).

The fight will take place at the UFC‘s Fight Night on March 13th. Just this morning, we learned that the headliner of that card will be the highly anticipated matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards.

Adding this heavyweight battle just shows that the UFC is stacking the deck again for another fight night. Entering this contest, both of these top contenders rank inside the UFC’s top seven at heavyweight.

They also both share a common last opponent. They both knocked out Junior Dos Santos in the second half of 2020 in their last performance. Prior to that win over JDS, Rozenstruik had suffered his first career loss at the hands of Francis Ngannou.

Rozenstruik met Ngannou at UFC 249. The winner of the fight was poised to be the top contender in the heavyweight division. Bibi Boy called out Ngannou and paid for it. Ngannou put Rozenstruik to sleep in 20 seconds.

However, Rozenstruik has had some real bright spots in the UFC outside of that loss. Of course, there is the victory over JDS, but he also owns knockouts over Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, and Allen Crowder.

The UFC’s Top Heavyweight Prospect

Arguably the most intriguing heavyweight in the UFC entering 2021 is Ciryl Gane. Once a top training partner of Francis Ngannou, Gane has really started to blossom as a top heavyweight for the promotion.

Fighting JDS at UFC 256 was the first big test for Gane. He passed that test with flying colors. Gane certainly looks the part of a top heavyweight contender. If he’s able to get by Bigi Boy, he might only be a win away from a title shot.

The heavyweight division is in a fascinating spot. Jon Jones is preparing for his heavyweight debut while Ngannou is getting ready to fight Stipe Miocic for the title. Whoever wins between Gane and Rozenstruik will be squarely in the title picture after March 13th.

UFC books Andrei Arlovski – Tom Aspinall

Andrei Arlovski

The UFC took to their official European Instagram page this afternoon to announce a heavyweight clash. The promotion has booked a heavyweight fight between former heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski (30-19, 2 NC), and Tom Aspinall (9-2).

The fight will take place on February 20th. Another heavyweight battle headlines that card and that being the clash between Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes. This is a big test for Tom Aspinall.

Aspinall made his UFC debut back in July on Fight Island. So far, Aspinall has looked sensational in his first two bouts in the UFC. He’s knocked out Jake Collier and Alan Baudot in just over two minutes combined.

The heavyweight contender from Manchester looks like he can be a force inside the octagon. Currently, he’s riding a five-fight winning streak and he’s finished all five of his opponents. Not just that, but he’s finished all five in under two minutes.

UFC Heavyweight Battle

This is definitely going to be a big test in the young UFC career of Aspinall. Just when you think Andrei Arlovski is out the door, he comes right back with an impressive performance.

At the end of 2019, the former UFC heavyweight champion was knocked out in 29 seconds by Jairzinho Rozenstruik. After that loss, you wondered what was left in the tank for Arlovski.

Arlovski was getting ready to turn 41 years old and he was jus 1-4, 1 NC in his previous five fights in the UFC. However, he turned things around in 2020 to show everyone that he’s not done just yet.

First Arlovski was able to defeat Philipe Lins by unanimous decision in May. Then the UFC gave him Tanner Boser who most figured would beat the former champion. Instead, Arlovski was able to pickup another unanimous decision win.

With his back up against the wall, Arlovski was able to pull out two big wins in 2020. Now he’s going to be tasked with taking on one of the hottest prospects in the UFC’s heavyweight division. It should be a good one on February 20th.

UFC rebooks Derrick Lewis – Curtis Blaydes

The UFC has rebooked a highly anticipated heavyweight matchup that got cancelled in November. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani is reporting this evening that Derrick Lewis (24-7,1 NC) and Curtis Blaydes (14-2,1 NC) have agreed to a new date.

The UFC has finalized the heavyweight matchup for February 20th. Both men were originally supposed to fight in November, however, a day before the event, Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight was scrapped.

There was initial doubt that the UFC would rebook the matchup. However, given the current landscape at heavyweight, pairing these two top contenders against each other makes all the sense in the world.

Derrick Lewis will be looking for his fourth straight victory on February 20th. Lewis last fought in August when he knocked out Alexey Oleynik in the second round of their fight. However, it was a shaky start for The Black Beast.

Lewis was taken down and controlled for a good part of the first round against Oleynik. If he’s going to win on February 20th, his wrestling is going to have to be on point. There’s no secret as to what his opponent is going to do.

UFC heavyweight battle

Curtis Blaydes has been extremely dominant in his run in the UFC. So far, there has only been one man who has been able to beat him. The problem for Blaydes is that he’s lost twice to him.

That man is the top UFC heavyweight contender, Francis Ngannou. However, outside of Ngannou, nobody has had an answer for the wrestling attack of Curtis Blaydes. He’s not flashy, but he knows how to get the job done.

Blaydes has shown improvements in the striking as he showed in his knockout of Junior Dos Santos. However, make no mistake about it, Blaydes is going to be using his wrestling a lot on February 20th.

On paper, this is a really tough matchup for Derrick Lewis. Lewis struggles against strong grapplers and Blaydes might be the best in the division. However, the exciting thing is that with the UFC’s Black Beast, he’s always just one shot away.

UFC: Jon Jones says he’s never returning to light heavyweight

UFC, Jon Jones

Earlier this year, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) vacated his UFC light heavyweight championship. Jones decided to vacate the title to pursue a new challenge in the heavyweight division. He first captured the light heavyweight title in 2011.

Jon Jones might be the greatest fighter the UFC has ever seen. Jones has never truly lost inside the octagon. His lone loss is a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill in a fight that he was completely dominating.

Outside of that, he’s rarely been challenged over the last 12 years in the UFC. In reality, Jon Jones has been the only opponent that has been detrimental to Jon Jones. Jones’ issues outside the cage have cost him time in his career and his title a couple of times.

Nevertheless, Jones has overcome those issues and had a great stretch over the last two years in the octagon. All starting at UFC 232 when he finished Alexander Gustafsson to regain the light heavyweight title.

After that he defeated Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Dominick Reyes by decision. Not the most dominant performances, but in the end, they show up as successful UFC title defenses for Jones.

Jones has been so dominant that he appeared bored at times when fighting. In my opinion, this boredom or lack of fear caused for some bad performances. Still, he’s come through all of his fights with his hand raised.

UFC Future for Jones

Jon Jones is in the process of building up his body for his next chapter in the UFC‘s heavyweight division. In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, Jones discussed the decision to move to heavyweight and vacate the light heavyweight title.

“The reason why I decided to vacate the light heavyweight belt and not hang onto it is that I knew my move to heavyweight was going to take a really long time. I have no intentions of ever going back to light heavyweight,” Jones said.

Jones also said that the current plan is for him to face the winner of the UFC heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Francis Ngannou (15-3). Those two are expected to fight in March with Jones fighting the winner in the summer or fall.

Jones also talked about the challenge of both saying, “I’ll be ready for either of them. Both fights are extremely challenging. Stipe, he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time. And then Francis is just a freak when it comes to his knockout power, and he’s improving constantly.”

He then added, “Both fights are gigantic challenges, but that’s what I’m here for in this stage of my career. Go big and see what I’ve got.” Jon Jones understands that capturing the UFC heavyweight title would cement him as the greatest to ever do it.

He said he wants to capture the title then defend it two or three times before retiring from the UFC. Outside of the heavyweight title is of course the potential matchup with rival Israel Adesanya (20-0).

Adesanya is moving up to fight Jan Blachowicz (27-8) for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259. If Adesanya wins and Jones wins, the UFC might try to make a superfight. It would be the first time a two-division champion would take on another champion.

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.

Ciryl Gane stops Junior Dos Santos at UFC 256

Ciryl Gane UFC

Kicking off the main card tonight at UFC 256 was a heavyweight clash between Junior Dos Santos (21-8) and Ciryl Gane (6-0). The former champion’s back was against the wall coming into this one.

Dos Santos entered the cage riding a three-fight losing streak. However, it was the way he’s lost his last three that have UFC fans wondering if he’s near the end. Cigano has been stopped in three straight outings.

Gane is on the other end of the spectrum. The French heavyweight prospect is looked at by many as a future champion. After tough year full of UFC cancellations, Gane was looking to make a massive statement tonight against Junior Dos Santos.

UFC 256 Recap:

Round 1

As the opening round at UFC 256 got underway, both were very light on their feet. Gane was frequently switching stances then used front kicks to start the striking. Dos Santos was trying to find his range with straight shots.

Gane continued to bounce and throw leg kicks. Dos Santos landed a decent uppercut as Gane got on the inside. Gane then countered with a very decent body kick. Dos Santos started to put a little pressure on Gane, but he was a little out of range to land shots.

Gane continued to land some decent kicks halfway through the round. The former UFC champion was throwing everything into his shots, but nothing was landing in the first. Gane continued to pepper Dos Santos’ legs with kicks.

Dos Santos threw a spinning back kick, but again couldn’t land. One minute left in the round and Gane lands another really good body kick. Dos Santos tried to catch a kick and get a takedown, but couldn’t land it. Dos Santos landed some good shots at the end, but a really good first round for Gane.

Round 2

As the second round at UFC 256 got underway, Gane went right back to throwing leg kicks. Dos Santos appeared to be trying to time Gane, but Gane was staying just out of range of Cigano’s big shots.

A minute into the round and Gane continued to land good kicks. Dos Santos landed a good right hand and Gane pushed JDS against the fence. Dos Santos was able to separate and get things back to striking.

Then out of no where, Gane lands a massive jab that hurts the former UFC champion. An elbow drops JDS and Gane finishes him off with a couple of shots.

Ciryl Gane def. Junior Dos Santos by TKO – Round 2

UFC: Jon Jones using intimidating heavyweights as motivation

UFC, Jon Jones

Former UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC), is currently preparing for the biggest change he’s ever gone through in his career. He’s in the process of moving up to the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

After reigning over the light heavyweight division for almost a decade, Jones vacated the title earlier this year. Jones became essentially bored at 205 pounds after dominating the division for so long.

Bones Jones is the kind of fighter that needs to be really pushed to shine. The former UFC champion always does his best whenever he realizes the real danger an opponent possesses. Whenever he’s not at all fearful, the performances suffer.

Jones detailed this mindset with ESPN stating, “The light heavyweight division was fun, but I wasn’t scared of any of those guys anymore. Like, none of them. And I think it showed in some of my performances. There was no urgency in some of my last fights.”

It was pretty obvious to me that in Jones’ last three UFC appearances, he just seemed extremely lose in the cage. No real killer instinct, he just more seemed to be going through the motions. As a result, he almost lost two of those fights.

We’ve seen Jones shine in the UFC. However, he’s really shined when he knows that a win is not in the bag. Just look at his rematches with Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson. After being pushed by both men in their first fight, he finished both of them in the rematch.

UFC’s new division increases the fear

For the UFC great, he needs a sense of fear to really pull out his best performances. He just wasn’t getting that at light heavyweight. However, there is plenty of fear and danger presented in the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

The biggest and baddest men in the sport are lingering and waiting on the former light heavyweight champion. A prime example is top contender, Francis Ngannou. Ngannou is the most terrifying knockout artist in the history of the UFC.

He’s an extremely large man with dynamite in his hands. An opponent like Ngannou would present Jones with more danger than he’s ever faced. That’s what is motivating the former UFC champ as he prepares for his heavyweight debut.

“With these next guys I’m going to be going up against, I respect these guys. These guys are intimidating. They’re intimidating as s**t. It just gets me up in a whole different way,” Jones told ESPN.

UFC: Jan Blachowicz eyeing a future move to heavyweight

Corey Anderson

The UFC‘s light heavyweight champion doesn’t plan on staying at 205 for the rest of the career. Poland’s Jan Blachowicz sees his title reign at light heavyweight ultimately leading him to the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

The UFC‘s Polish Power has turned around his career in a major way over the past couple of years. If you go back to 2017, you will find a dejected Jan Blachowicz who had just lost his second consecutive fight in the octagon.

After losing a majority decision to Patrick Cummins, Blachowicz knew he needed to take his career more serious. He really started to focus and train harder than he ever had before. The results since have been astonishing.

Since that loss to Cummins at UFC 210, Blachowicz has gone 8-1 with the only loss coming to former title challenger Thiago Santos. Somehow, Blachowicz seems to be getting better and better with age.

Blachowicz will turn 38 in February of next year. However, he’s on a stretch that proves that age is just a number. In his last four fights, Blachowicz has defeated Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Corey Anderson, and Dominick Reyes. He won three of those by knockout.

UFC’s future heavyweight?

This run has seem Blachowicz reach the mountain top and become UFC light heavyweight champion. However, he’s still not satisfied. Blachowicz is disappointed that he never got the chance to fight Jon Jones.

Jones vacated the UFC light heavyweight title this year when Blachowicz was the number one contender. Blachowicz told Submission Radio that he believes the UFC‘s pound for pound GOAT is dodging him because he knows he will lose.

“That’s (A fight against me) gonna be his first loss at heavyweight. I’ll give him first loss at 205, or maybe heavyweight. We will see. But, he does everything to not fight against me.”

When asked about a potential move to heavyweight, Blachowicz said, “I would like to stay in 205 a little bit longer. But it’s also hard because nobody knows what Jon Jones is doing right now. I think two more years at 205 and then I will go to heavyweight.”

The UFC‘s light heavyweight champion made it clear that he wants to move up to chase Jon Jones. However, he acknowledged that there’s two roadblocks in his way. He must first defeat Israel Adesanya and Glover Teixiera before he moves up.

“First of all, I have to win against Glover or Israel, and after this fight we can talk about Jon Jones. I don’t care. I believe I catch him (Jones) in future somewhere, at 205 or at heavyweight.”

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.