Now that International Fight Week is over, we have a lot to talk about. UFC 200 became the largest event in MMA history, three new champions were crowned, Brock Lesnar won in his return and the UFC was sold for $4 billion. With all the excitement that has taken place over the last week, it is important to take stock and see where the sport stands. Here is the state of the UFC's heavyweight division.
The heavyweight division has long been considered a top-heavy weight class. The top 10 is stacked with some of the most talented fighters in the sport, but after that, there seems to be quite the drop off. While fringe top-10 fighters like Derrick Lewis and Stefan Struve are exciting moving forward, much of the heavyweight division boils down to fighters currently ranked as the best.
The champion and top five contenders in the heavyweight division may be the most competitive and evenly matched fighters in the history of the sport. While Stipe Miocic is the champion, he has Fabricio Werdum wanting revenge, Cain Velasquez coming off an impressive win off Travis Browne, Alistair Overeem preparing for his title fight and Junior Dos Santos and Ben Rothwell recovering from their five-round brawl. There is a reason that no heavyweight champion has ever had more than two-consecutive title defenses in the history of the UFC.
While the main positive of the division is its massive amount of talent at the top, the drawback is the age of the fighters. Out of all of the top five contenders and champion, the youngest is JDS at 32 and their average age is over 34. It gets even worse when you expand it to the top 10 where the average age is nearly 36. With only two fighters in the top 15 in their 20s, eventually the division is going to see some of its best fighters retiring, leaving a massive hole at the top of the weight class.
The biggest development in the heavyweight division though surrounds one fighter. Lesnar's return at UFC 200 was incredible and the fact that he was actually able to beat Mark Hunt was something that many "experts" were not expecting. His win immediately catapulted him to become the No. 8 ranked heavyweight in the world. The drawback is that he is still under contract with the WWE, and may find it hard to get any more fights inside the Octagon before that contract is up. However, if he does comeback and fight and focuses his training on MMA, he could have a serious run once again in the UFC. He is only one or two fights away from earning a title shot and with a man of his calibre and athleticism, he could still win the belt after a five-year layoff.
The heavyweight division is in an interesting situation at the moment. If Miocic win his title fight at UFC 203, he may finally add some stability to the weight class and start a reign as a champion. However, if Overeem wins, the same debate of "who's next" will pop up. Will Miocic get a rematch? Does Werdum get a shot to win back his title? Will Velasquez's win over Browne propel him to a title shot? Or will someone else in the top 10 get a shot at the belt. With the talent that we see in the heavyweight division, anyone could be given a shot at the title and come out victorious. We just need to wait and see how the chips fall.
(Image via MMAWeekly.com)