By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Music to listen to: Lean On by Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MO
No bullcrap, let’s get right to the rankings
1) Fabricio Werdum
2) Junior Dos Santos
3) Cain Velasquez
4) Stipe Miocic
5) Andrei Arlovski
Thoughts: This division held little intrigue the last 12 months due to the injuries to Velasquez which held the UFC title in limbo. Sure, Werdum defeated Mark Hunt for the interim title in an impressive win but it still left doubt about who the best heavyweight in the world was. We don’t have those concerns anymore after Werdum’s dominate third-round submission victory over Velasquez last week in Mexico at UFC 188. The Brazilian peppered Velasquez throughout the fight with punches and took advantage of his superior cardio before slipping in a guillotine choke and getting the win.
For the record, I confidently picked Velasquez to win this fight which shows that I shouldn’t put money on a fight. Not for moral reasons, its that I’m not a good fight predictor because mixed martial arts is the most difficult sport to gamble on.
How was I to take into account Werdum staying in Mexico City nearly two months adjusting to the elevated altitude. I knew that Velasquez only spent two weeks at the city and that’s not enough time to adjust for the biggest fight of your career.
Mostly, I underestimated Werdum’s standup ability. I was stuck in the mindset of Werdum being a world-class grappler and ground fighter who was adequate in the standup. I was completly wrong and own up to it.
In a way, the UFC benefits from Werdum being the champion from a public relations perspective. Velasquez has a strong latino fan base, especially in Mexico, but his personality isn’t outgoing. That’s not a complaint because a fighter can approach the sport in whatever way he or she feels works best. The reality is that even when Velasquez was injured, he didn’t promote himself enough to gain the overall interest of fans in the sport.
Werdum has an outgoing personality, speaks three languages well (his native Portuguese, Spanish and English) and developed an enjoyable fighting style for fans to see. He can be a major asset promoting the sport.
The question now is what’s the next set of fights we see, especially Werdum’s first title defense. I still believe that Dos Santos is the second-best fighter in this division at the moment plus he has a history with Werdum years ago, defeating the champ. That would be a natural stroy line.
A few have mentioned a potential immediate rematch for Velasquez but because of his inability to stay healthy and sound defeat to Werdum, I’d like to see a Velasquez/Stipe fight which would be a strong indicator of where each man stands in the division.
The career revival of Arlovski in the UFC has been fun to see and his strong fan base and name recognition could garner a title shot in the near future.
1) Jon Jones
2) Daniel Cormier
3) Anthony Johnson
4) Alex Gustafsson
5) Ryan Bader
Thoughts: Jones is still suspended for the forseeable future but still sits atop my rankings for now. Cormier is now the man in the UFC light heavyweight division after defeating Anthony Johnson by third round submission at UFC 187. It looks like his first title defense will be against Gustafsson who’s coming off of a disappointing first-round TKO loss to Johnson earlier this year. Personally, I would like to see Cormier fight Bader who has won his last four fights and provides some challenges to the champion.
1) Chris Weidman
2) Luke Rockhold
3) Anderson Silva
4) Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
Thoughts: Weidman defended his UFC title in impressive fashion, stopping Vitor Belfort in less than three minutes in the first round at UFC 187. He’s entering his physical and skill prime with legitimate contenders to fight. Rockhold looks to be the next in line after his win over Machida last April. Both men have been verbally going against each other with Rockhold, who has won his last four fights, being the aggressor. Silva is always a difficult fighter to rank due to his outstanding career but struggles against Weidman. His victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 183 has been tainted as well following a failed drug test. I have Silva third right now but he can easily be out of my top-five next month.
1) Robbie Lawler
2) Johny Hendricks
3) Rory MacDonald
4) Tryon Woodley
5) Carlos Condit
Thoughts: Lawler and MacDonald will fight later this month for the UFC title with the winner most likely getting Hendricks. Woodley recovered from his devestating loss to MacDonald with a win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 183. He’ll need another win or possibly two to get back into the title picture. Condit wants the winner of Lawler/MacDonald but a rematch against Hendricks or Woodley seems like the more likely fight.
1) Rafael Dos Anjos
2) Anthony Pettis
3) Donald Cerrone
4) Eddie Alvarez
5) Benson Henderson
Thoughts: Don Anjos’ dominant decision victory over Pettis at UFC 185 makes him the top fighter in the division. The natural title defense looks to be against Cerrone later this calendar year. Alvarez outlasted Gil Melendez last Saturday and firmed his position as a top-five fighter.
1) Jose Aldo
2) Frankie Edgar
3) Chad Mendes
4) Ricardo Lamas
5) Conor McGregor
Thoughts: Aldo has beaten Edgar, Lamas and Mendes twice. He’s the dominant fighter in the division and will face a stern test from McGregor, who has done an outstanding job promoting the fight, next month at UFC 189.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?