Monday, April 13, 2015
This past weekend's heavyweight tilt between legendary Mirko Cro-Cop and Gabriel Gonzaga was a battle for sure, as both fighters have the scars to prove it. However, as I watched the fight, one thought came to mind.
The current state of the UFC heavyweight division may possess the strongest fighters on the roster literally, but that's about it. Take an objective look at today's UFC rankings of their top 15 heavyweights and it's easy to argue that the heavyweight division has seen better days. As a matter of fact, it looks as though it's going backwards and in a way it is.
How else could you explain booking a rematch of a fight that took place eight years ago? Then again, how else were you going to promote and justify resigning a 40 year old Cro-Cop? I mean when the UFC let him go back in 2011, it was because he looked old, slow and disenchanted; so it makes no sense to sign him now.
However, look up and down the roster and it's evident the UFC is in need of some heavyweight talent.
Sure these are not the days when the division featured the likes of Tim Sylvia, Cabbage Correia, Fabiano Scherner and Gan McGee. No disrespect to those fighters, but any of the big boys featured in the photo above would destroy that posse. Yet outside the top five of the current edition of heavyweights and it starts to look like old timers day.
Honestly, I should say four of the top five because Junior Dos Santos as great as he was, is not the same fighter anymore. Sure he recently won a disputed decision over #4 ranked Stipe Miocic, but I personally think he lost that fight. You couple that war with the two beatings he suffered at the hands of champion Cain Velasquez before that and he just does not look like the same fighter.
Velasquez is a great champion undeniably, but he's prone to injuries, which have shortened his career. So much so, we haven't seen him in action since that October 2013 beating of Dos Santos. A rescheduled bout with interim champ Fabricio Werdum is rescheduled for June in Mexico, but only time will tell if he'll have to pull out of that fight as well. Meanwhile, Werdum is at the best stage of his career, but at 37 years old the clock is ticking on him also.
Travis Browne and the aforementioned Miocic are the only younger generation heavyweights with any promise and that's it. After that it's a who's who of former champions who should be getting ready for the Hall of Fame and not the octagon. Names like Barnett, Mir, Hunt and Arlovski deserve respect, but look at their recent past and they have more losses than wins. Guys like Mir and Arlovski were on their way to journeymen/gatekeeper status before a couple of wins propelled them back in the picture.
Speaking of which, how is a guy like Mir who is only (1-4) in his last five fights still in the top 10? That alone makes my argument for me. The division is so weak right now, a couple of wins and Mir could actually be talked about as being in the title hunt; that's crazy! I never thought the day would come where I would personally say, I miss Brock Lesnar.
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