This Saturday the world will watch as UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez defends his strap against soft-spoken, hard-hitting Brazilian Junior dos Santos in a historic main event being featured live on FOX. However, come Sunday morning after the two talented men have thrown down the same question as always will arise – who is next?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer either with the exception of Alistair Overeem who still needs to defeat Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 before concerning himself with the UFC title, a feat in itself without question. Frank Mir is the next closest thing to Overeem as a legitimate contender but even HE has a date with a former divisional king in December (Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira).
Lesnar? His fight with the powerful Dutchman is his first in more than a year and his prior appearance in a ring involving a one-sided smashing courtesy of Velasquez. Similarly, every other possibility on the UFC roster has also experienced a recent loss or simply doesn’t resemble a threat to whoever emerges with the title at UFC on FOX 1.
The reality is the heavyweight division is victim of circumstance splashed with parity. There are some tremendous fighters but only a few earning the “elite” tag while the rest win 2-3 bouts in a row before coming up short to an opponent. The other problem is that true prospects are few and far between with MMA moving more towards athleticism than big men brawling. Try listing three potential “future champions” at heavyweight outside of the current title-picture who are under the age of 30 and see how far you get before Jon Jones comes to mind.
As such, the current landscape makes it nearly impossible to create a bona fide challenger at heavyweight in comparison to other divisions where five straight wins over “name” opponents won’t necessarily earn you a sniff at gold. When JDS and Velasquez face off, fans should enjoy it not only because it’s the UFC’s debut on network television but because it’s one of very few competitive fights the organization can book for the belt.
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PHOTO CREDIT – UFC