Meet the Cast: Heavyweights

Hello all. I hope your weekends were lovely. Mine was alright, but a number of commitments kept me from watching either UFC event. So that was some major frownzies. Fortunately, due to the magic of Twitter, I was able to stay in the loop on the coverage, and I was pleased to note that I correctly called the main events of each card (humble brag).

However, on Saturday, I was explaining UFC stuff to one of my roommates, and I nerded out a bit and told him probably much more than he bargained for when I started speaking.

But I thought to myself: “You know, I’ll bet that some of this UFC stuff is confusing to the average Sports Download reader who might be more familiar with Bryce Harper, Kevin Durant, or one Timothy Tebow than the guys who step into the Octagon.”

And so, the project begins.

I am going to provide you, dear reader, with a look at each division in the UFC. From heavyweight to flyweight, I will let you know who the champion is and what they’re good at, along with contenders in each weight class as well as who is “in the mix” as UFC President Dana White is fond of saying. It’s much easier to care about something, to be a fan of something, when you know the players of the game.

Let’s start with the UFC’s Heavyweight division. The UFC’s biggest guys, heavyweights can range in weight from 206 lbs to 265 lbs. These guys are BIG. But, it’s important to note, most of the heavyweights in the UFC that have success tend to top out at around 230-245. Sure, a few years ago when Brock Lesnar was at the height of his powers, you had some truly gigantic piles of meat. But hey. The economy is tough. These are leaner times.

The Champ: Junior Dos Santos (15-1)

JDS is pretty ridiculous. 9-0 in the UFC. 7 of those wins were stoppages, and most of them came early. He has probably the best boxing in the UFC, at least in the heavyweights. His debut against Fabricio Werdum was an absolutely devastating uppercut that makes me cringe whenever I see it. Allegedly he has great jiu-jitsu, but I’ve never seen it. He’s too busy knocking people’s heads off their shoulders to worry about setting in that guillotine. He has successfully defended his belt (a tough task in the heavyweight division; there’s historically been a lot of turnover) and looks to be the favorite in most of his potential matchups.

#1 Contender: Cain Velasquez (10-1)

Cain scares the crap out of me. Just look at that picture. If you watch him fight, you’ll realize that he’s basically the Terminator if the T-800 was Mexican instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He just doesn’t stop. He is relentless; his gas tank is incredible for a heavyweight with those big muscles to oxygenate. Knockouts aren’t exactly Cain’s thing, but he’s got great wrestling and phenomenal ground-n-pound (strikes from a position of leverage while on top of a downed opponent). He took his first loss to a lucky hook from JDS, but his fight to take the belt from Brock Lesnar and his bounce back demolition of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva show you that Cain is an incredible heavyweight.

In the Mix:

Alistair Overeem (36-11)

Definitely doesn’t do steroids. Not at all. Ever.

Alistair Overeem is one of the great mysteries of MMA. Once a light heavyweight that had sporadic but mixed success, Overeem bulked up A TON (due to a combination of power lifting, a new diet including horse meat, and lots of illegal steroids) and started crushing MMA tournaments overseas and kickboxing events. Once he got in the UFC though, he caught an unfortunate positive drug test that resulted in a suspension for a while. I hope he gets back on the legal path because Overeem is incredibly talented and REALLY good at what he does, especially if “what he does” includes striking. His suspension should elapse at the end of the year, perhaps enabling his return on the New Years card or something similar if he makes things right with the bosses.

Fabricio Werdum (16-5-1)

Werdum’s title shot in the UFC got derailed after getting annihilated in 80 seconds to some newcomer named Junior Dos Santos. However, now that we all know JDS is really awesome and Werdum’s only other loss is Overeem in a weird fight in the Strikeforce GP, Werdum’s record is looking better. One of the best submission fighters in the Heavyweight division, Werdum’s striking has improved vastly with dominant performances over Roy Nelson and Mike Russow. He looks more complete and better than ever, and for Werdum right now the sky is the limit.

Roy Nelson (17-7)

I don’t think anyone has looked less like an MMA fighter in the Octagon than “Big Country” (unless you put me in the cage maybe), but Roy’s only losses in the UFC have been to Dos Santos, Werdum, and Frank Mir, and all three were decisions. His wins (4 of them) have all been knockouts. His conditioning could probably use some work, and I’d like to see a bit more footwork and agility from Mr. Nelson, but he hits really hard and has the 2nd best chin in MMA (well, maybe the best. But I gotta give it to Frankie Edgar).

Frank Mir (16-6)

Frank Mir has been in the UFC forever. With 20 fights in the big show, and a former title, Mir has seen it all. He’s had two of the nastiest submissions ever in his wins over Tim Sylvia and Big Nog, and he’s always a threat in the cage especially if the fight goes to the ground. But, it’s possible that Mir’s best days are behind him after getting demolished by JDS in his impromptu title shot.

Stefan Struve (24-5)

At 24 years old, the mutantly-tall Struve (6’11”) has already fought 11 times in the UFC and plans to fight as often as Joe Silva (The UFC’s matchmaker) will book him in things. Struve is wildly entertaining to watch, going from come-from-behind knockouts to crazy early submissions, Struve goes balls out when he’s in the cage. So Mr. Silva will probs keep calling him.

Stipe Miocic (9-0)

Try pronouncing his name. Did you try? You got it wrong. Just trust me. I have no idea how to pronounce that, and neither do Mike Goldberg or Joe Rogan since they pronounce it about 4 different ways whenever I see him fight. However, what isn’t at all in question is his striking prowess. Miocic hits hard, and he also seems to have that really entertaining “beast mode” switch. Once hit a few times, Hulk here gets angry. And, as it turns out, his opponents don’t like him when he’s angry. He’s still a bit new to the game with only 3 fights in the UFC, but he’s 3-0 and shows a lot of promise. He’ll get to see where he’s at for realizes in the fall when he takes on Mr. Struve.

Antonio Rodrigo Minotauro Nogueira (Big Nog) (33-7)

Big Nog is like the original warhorse of MMA heavyweights. He’s fought the best in the division for the entire history of the division, and has really fought some battles. You can tell by looking at him. He’s 36 going on 54. He got his arm DESTROYED by Frank Mir a few months ago, but has healed nicely and has a fight planned against Cheick Kongo in a few months.

Others to keep an eye out for: Mark Hunt, Cheick Kongo, Pat Barry, Travis Browne, Lavar Johnson, Matt Mitrione, Ben Rothwell.

I hope you guys found this enjoyable/informative. If you’d like me to do anything differently, let me know.

Next: Light Heavyweights!


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