The UFC heavyweight division is currently in an awkward position as the options of a relatively quick rematch await the current UFC heavyweight champ, Stipe Miocic or perhaps the emergence of a French phenom or maybe the return of a former heavyweight king.
Now that Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem’s trilogy came and went without much of a buzz, UfC 213 proved to be just minor development in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Overeem was able to eke out a win, but the bout could’ve gone to Werdum seeing as he dropped and nearly had Overeem dead to rights just before the bout came to a close. The lack of activity between both men showed the opposite mentality of someone like Justin Gaethje this weekend. Both men were extremely careful and hesitant, which happens to help the prospect of Francis Ngannou earning the title shot if he manages to get past Junior Dos Santos in the fall.
Ngannou, while still a raw MMA prospect has the size and image of a heavyweight monster. Despite still developing his game, he finds himself with the task of defeating somebody who once was considered the scariest heavyweight in the division at UFC 215. Sadly, that is no longer the case and the fact that “Cigano” is coming off a knockout loss just a few months back, the odds favor the rising French man.
Cain Velasquez is still on the sidelines, but he could pose an interest challenge to Miocic, plus we’ve always been able to count on Cain to provide an engaging fight. That’s what the division needs in Miocic’s absence as he awaits a new contender. If Overeem will continue to remain patient in his game and await his opponent’s first move, then Velasquez would be the perfect candidate seeing as he always plots forward.
Velasquez won’t be waiting on the sidelines for long and he’s no stranger in slaying the larger heavyweights the UFC has had to offer. Overeem and Velasquez both have JDS on their win record, but Overeem was able to take Werdum out of the title picture meaning a win over the “Reem” would be that much more significant for the American Kickboxing Academy product. The UFC is unlikely to give Overeem the next shot anyways so it’s a given that he needs another win at least if he expects to be back in title contention. Seeing as Overeem is one of the UFC’s highest paid fighters it’s likely that they match him up against a highly notable opponent and unless they plan on offering Mark Hunt another shot at punching Overeem in the face or possibly risk giving the underwhelming Derrick Lewis another big fight, Velasquez seems like the way to go.
With Dos Santos and Ngannou set to face off in under two months, it’s likely that that the title shot would go to Ngannou if he wins. The title shot is unlikely to be afforded to Dos Santos if he comes away with a victory, but it could make things far more complicated in the division. On a related note, the 30-year-old AKA product, Ruslan Moagomedov who was suspended for two years by USADA in 2015 will be eligible to return in late September. He will return sporting a 3-0 UFC record with his last win coming over Shawn Jordan at UFC 192. Looks like the plot is beginning to thicken.