UFC heavyweight division

Is the UFC heavyweight division about to open up?

UFC 252 left us with plenty of talking points as Stipe Miocic retained his title. From Daniel Cormier’s emotional retirement to Stipe Miocic defining himself as the greatest heavyweight of all time, the trilogy definitely delivered.

As epic as the DC vs Stipe rivalry was, it was a tough few years for heavyweight contenders. Since the first meeting between Cormier and Miocic back in July 2018, only one other man has entered the octagon to fight for the heavyweight strap. Following a comeback win vs Alexander Volkov at UFC 229, Derek Lewis faced Daniel Cormier for the belt in November 2018. Becoming the first double champ to defend the second belt, DC submitted Lewis in the second round.

Now that Daniel Cormier has retired and the rivalry has come to an end, possibilities now start to arise in the UFC heavyweight division. So what is the future for the baddest men on the planet? Francis Ngannou has been knocking contenders out as he knocks on the championship door. From tasting defeat in his title bout to Stipe in January 2018 to losing a lack-lustre fight against Derek Lewis, Ngannou has certainly had a good turn around in form. Curtis Blaydes, Cain Valasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik all failing to make it out of the first round with Ngannou. A combined time of 2 minutes and 32 seconds in his past four fights. His destruction of the heavyweight contenders makes him the logical option to challenge Stipe Miocic in a rematch.

A spanner was thrown into the heavyweight works as Jon Jones announced on Monday he would be vacating his light heavyweight belt. Jones wrote on Twitter; “Just got off the phone with @Ufc, today I confirm that I’m vacating the light heavyweight championship. It’s officially up for grabs. It’s been an amazing journey, sincere thank you to all my competition, UFC and most importantly you fans.” Having flirted with the idea of moving up weight class in the past, Jones’ potential heavyweight career is seemingly more likely than ever. Shortly after announcing his vacating of the belt, Jones returned to twitter to say he had positive talks with the UFC regarding his next fight at heavyweight, “the weight gaining process begins”. So rather it be Stipe, Ngannou or any of the other heavyweight contenders, Jon Jones is likely to be a big threat in the heavyweight division moving forward.

Despite his loss to Francis Ngannou earlier in the year, Jairzinho Rozenstruik put himself back in the contender’s picture with a second round KO of Junior Dos Santos. It’s also worth a mention that Derek Lewis is on a 3-fight winning streak. Another win for Lewis could make him a good shout for another title shot.

For the first time in years, the possibilities for the division are numerous. Although we will miss seeing Daniel Cormier enter the octagon, as well as the almighty trilogy that provided such great fights. The future of the UFC heavyweight division is exciting and promising.

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Donal Long