By Dillon Neibel
For most of us concerned with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the best way to follow the excitement is by focusing on the premiere organization that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Now, since the talent pools tend to get pretty heavily stacked, I will be breaking down my updates by division and might occasionally review the overall Pound for Pound rankings.
The Heavyweight division is currently shaping up to be the most exciting it has been in years. In the most recent Pay-per-view (PPV) event UFC 252 held on Aug. 15, fans were treated with the conclusion of the trilogy between Daniel “DC” Cormier and Stipe Miocic. After both men claimed a victory over the other by knockout (KO), the score was settled after going the distance of all five rounds, and Miocic held onto his belt and solidified himself as the greatest Heavyweight in UFC history when considering the accolades of both men. DC, as promised, retired that night but will continue to grace us as commentator and analyst of the sport.
Miocic is not out of the woods yet if he wishes to continue to build his legacy, as many dangerous challengers are en route to the belt. Former Light Heavyweight Champion and arguably the greatest of all time (GOAT) Jon “Bones” Jones looks to continue his undefeated career in the Heavyweight division, having recently vacated his Light Heavyweight gold. The always dangerous Cameroonian Francis “The Predator” Ngannou has been on a violent first-round KO win streak since his loss to the current champion.
Fun fact: Francis Ngannou holds the world record for the most powerful punch, which is equivalent to 96 horsepower and is equal to getting hit by a Ford Escort at top speed. That is a 2,464lb vehicle with a top speed of 110 mph.
Other prominent contenders of the division include the 20+ year legend Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem, always entertaining Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis, striking specialist Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik, wrestler Curtis “Razor” Blaydes and possibly the return of heavy-hitting Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
Light Heavyweights (205lbs):
At one time this division was the most exciting of the sport, but then Jon Jones started his reign of terror and defeated two generations of fighters, totally clearing out the division. However, the division will have a chance to grow once again as the undefeated GOAT has vacated his belt for a move up a weight class.
In September’s UFC 253, the vacant belt will be up for grabs in the Co-main event, as Dominick “The Devastator” Reyes looks to prove himself after coming off a highly contested loss to the former champion, against the heavy-hitting Jan “John” Blachowicz.
Other up and rising contenders of the division include former title contender Thiago “Marereta” Santos, Veteran Glover Teixeira and rising star Aleksandar “Rocket” Rakic.
Headlining the main event of UFC 253 is a promising showdown between two undefeated strikers in the champion Israel “The Last Style Bender” Adesanya and Paulo “The Eraser” Costa. Champion Adesanya is a rising superstar since making his transition from kickboxing and will look to use his high-level counter striking against the forward pushing powerhouse Costa.
Former champ Robert “The Reaper” Whitaker and #3 ranked contender Jared “Tha Killa Gorilla” Cannonier will face each other at UFC 254 to advance their spot in the title picture.
Other hopefuls include Jack “The Joker” Hermansson, Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero, Darren “The Gorilla” Till and many others as the division is looking as promising as ever since the Anderson Silva era.
O’Fallon, Ill. resident Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez recently sported both an impressive KO and mullet in his recent UFC bout.
Although a date is not yet verified, reigning champ Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman looks to continue his domination of this division against the terrorizing Gilbert “Durinho” Burns, in a fight that hardcore fans are looking at as a real test for the champion.
Mega-star Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is rumored to put on a rematch for the novelty Baddest Mother F****r (BMF) against Stockton bad boy Nate Diaz. Older brother Nick Diaz is also rumored to make his return, both being expected to happen in January.
The welterweight division might truly be the most talent-stacked and exciting division in the entire promotion right now, looking down the list of all ranked and even non-ranked contenders one could see any of them being given a title shot with 1-3 wins.
Former champion and Ferguson, Mo. resident Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley will soon face former interim champion Colby “Chaos” Covington.
Just as in the welterweight division, you cannot find a much thicker talent pool than what we have among the lightweights.
Undefeated mega-star, champ and potential GOAT Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov will be defending his streak and belt in a unification bout against interim champ and heavy handed Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje at UFC 254 in October. The match holds a lot of promise in a classic striker versus grappler match as Gaethje is coming off a giant upset victory over Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson.
Ferguson, up until the Gaethje fight at UFC 249, was on a decade long 12 fight win streak before the upset, and is notorious for creating some of the most bloody and violent fights in the sport’s history. Ferguson was potentially going to fight long time top contender Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier, in what would be a potential fight of the year, as both men are known as what we call a real “fighter’s fighter.” Poirier is coming off a five round victory over Dan “The Hangman” Hooker that is being talked about as the potential fight of the year.
UFC president Dana White recently said that a different fight for Ferguson is being set up since negotiations did not work with Poirier. My money’s on Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira, whose style is practically a mirror of Ferguson’s.
This division continues to explode, as do many others. For now I will end this breakdown, but I will continue to work down the list of divisions in my next Ultimate Update article.