The Current State of the Heavyweight Division

The Current State of the Heavyweight Division

UFC/Boxing

The Current State of the Heavyweight Division

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Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

As the UFC champion, Francis Ngannou has put himself in a position to call his own shots. I say this knowing he is in a back-and-forth with the UFC brass and if you need to catch up on that read the article below: 

The Francis Ngannou Story

Given that he defended his belt against Ciryl Gane he’s now in an awkward position. He’s in the same position he was before when he was ready to fight Jon Jones after knocking out Stipe Miocic in their rematch at UFC 260. However, Jones seemed as if he wasn’t ready to fight or wouldn’t take the fight for whatever the UFC was offering money-wise. Now that Ngannou needs surgery, we don’t know how long he will be out for and if he will even still be with UFC when it’s time to fight again.

This may be a scenario in which Jones is able to step up and take a vacant/interim heavyweight title. If he does this then his opponent would likely be Miocic. If he were to face Gane coming off of a loss I think that would be a huge fight as well, just not as big. The backstory of his arch-nemesis, Daniel Cormier, already having a trilogy with Miocic, just makes more sense and would be a bigger fight if they both fought. Also, Fernand Lopez, Gane’s coach, has stated that they are going to work on their wrestling for the foreseeable future and they’ll be waiting to hear from the UFC on when their next fight will be.

If two of the top guys are out it’s only right to make an interim belt, which was the incorrect thing to do the first time they did it when Gane stopped Derrick Lewis in Houston back at UFC 265. Now it’s looking like the division may need an actual placeholder while Francis has hurt, given the fact that his knee was torn to shreds in training camp leading up to UFC 270.

I’m sure he’ll have no issue this time around if they were to make an interim champion, given the fact that he is physically unable to defend it at the moment as opposed to the first time they made it as a power-play by the UFC.

This leads me to my last point, who will get that shot? It’s likely that Jones will be one of the participants, but who will be the other? Miocic has not fought since losing his belt; it would be fair to give him a shot. But if you look at it he’s had plenty of title opportunities and he’s one of the greatest champions the UFC has seen, so he may be at the end of his run when it comes to fighting for the belts. The UFC seems to be trying to build up the next generation of fighters for years to come

Gane is a person who has just lost his first-ever fight and according to the masses, it seems as if Jones will be favored heavily if they fought. Their styles are very similar but we all know that Jones moving up to heavyweight can be a big factor in his wrestling and striking speed. If he allows Gane to work on his wrestling, it may be a mistake if he improves it as fast as he improved his other facets of mixed martial arts. 

There are however a couple of dark horses in this race. Even though Lewis is fighting down in the rankings, meaning he’s fighting guys who are ranked lower than him, he has the star power to demand that shot. Usually, the way he is doing it doesn’t bode well for another title opportunity, but I love him staying active and keeping his name alive.

Curtis Blaydes is the other name who is coming off of an impressive performance against Jairzinho Rozenstruik, another top contender in the division, and he has not gotten his shot at gold yet. And it’s unlikely that he would jump the other top contenders, given he has lost to Ngannou twice already, but it’s not something that we can rule out given how this division has been handled the last few years.

Follow me on Twitter/Instagram @ DoeWright_ for more news.

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