UFC Heavyweight
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UFC Heavyweight Division Breakdown: Who Are The Real Contenders?

The UFC heavyweight division has been reborn in the last few years. Much of that rebirth has to do with exciting fighters like Francis Ngannou and now, Jon Jones. In my opinion there are 3 true contenders that can take the belt from Ngannou.

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Champion: Francis Ngannou

I would imagine being punched by Francis Ngannou feels like getting hit head-on by a cement block. If you did not watch his last fight, he made the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time look like a child. The amount of power he has is incredible. With 12 knockouts in 16 pro victories, the power speaks for itself. More impressively, his conditioning looked to be in great form in his last fight. It used to be that if he did not get the KO inside the first round, he gassed out. But now it looks like he the stamina to fight for longer, which is a scary sight for the rest of the division. A fight with Jon Jones was rumored but Dana White refuses to pay Jones, so do not hold your breath.

MY #1 Contender: Jon Jones

Jon Jones has not yet fought at heavyweight, so he is not ranked in the official UFC heavyweight rankings, but he very well could be the best heavyweight alive. At 6’5 and now probably 240 pounds, the man might be unbeatable. His combination of athleticism and intelligence made him unbeatable at 205 for nearly a decade. I truly believe that Jones could beat Ngannou if they fight. I think his wrestling will only be better now that he put on weight, and his speed and defense will be far too much for Francis Ngannou to deal with. Jones is the #1 ranked pound for pound fighter on the planet, and also the greatest UFC fighter of all time in many people’s eyes. If he ever gets the money he deserves, he will be UFC heavyweight champion of the world.

#1 Heavyweight Contender: Stipe Miocic

If you follow the UFC, you know that Stipe Miocic is the greatest heavyweight of all time. He holds the record for heavyweight title fight wins at 6, heavyweight fight night bonuses, and total strikes landed. He was so dominant in his prime that he went 8-1 in a 5-year stretch from 2015-2020. His only loss came to Daniel Cormier, who he beat two times after to regain and then retain the title.

Do I think he can still challenge for a title? Yes, I do. I know he is older, 38, and his chin is not what it once was, but he still has some left in the tank. His last fight with Ngannou was brutal to watch, but really, he just got swallowed by the pressure that Francis put on him. In their first fight, it was the other way around, so I think he was just surprised at the pressure. I think if he can get another shot at the title, he can regain it. Regardless of if he does or not, he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer with one of the greatest careers in the history of the sport.

#2 Heavyweight Contender: Derrick Lewis

I think Derrick Lewis, outside of Jon Jones has the best chance to tale the heavyweight belt from Ngannou. I say this solely because of his power. To beat Francis Ngannou, you either need to be an elite wrestler, so fast that he cannot catch you, or have power that almost matches his own. In Lewis’ case, his power is probably second to Ngannou in the division. When Lewis hits people they crumble. He has 20 knockouts in 25 career wins. In addition to his crazy power, he actually has pretty good stamina for a guy his size.

During his current 4 fight win streak, he has 2 KOs and 2 decisions, which bodes well if he fights Ngannou for the belt. To win the title he will need to make Francis fight for 5 rounds. If he can tire out Ngannou and catch him with a clean shot, he can put him down. I would expect Lewis to get the next shot at the title, maybe even as early as this summer.

Who Else Should You Watch Out For?

Three names that come to mind when I think of who could move towards the top of the division by years end are Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Ciryl Gane, and Curtis Blaydes. All three men have the necessary power to become UFC heavyweight champion. Rozenstruik probably has the most power of the three, but his gas tank empties fast. Blaydes actually has good stamina, but im not sure he has the chin to beat Ngannou. Gane is new to the UFC and was a highly touted prospect out of France. His first fight was slow and relatively boring, so I need to see him really dominate a fight before I can say whether he has a real chance at the belt.

I am just crossing my fingers that Dana White pays Jon Jones what he deserves so we can see Ngannou vs. Jones. If that does not happen, I would love to see a trilogy fight between Miocic and Ngannou. Regardless of what fights are made, the UFC heavyweight division should have an exciting 2021.  

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