In the end, we’ve come to the final division for us to go over with the heavyweights. A division that has been promoted as a glamour division in boxing, it hasn’t fairly translated that approach for MMA, largely as a result of sports activities lack of ability to provide a long-reigning undisputed champion. Maybe Cain Velasquez might have been the long-reigning champion, however his lengthy damage historical past turned what might have been one of many biggest careers within the historical past of the game into merely an awesome profession. Thus, Velasquez isn’t within the operating on the very prime. No matter who you imagine was the highest heavyweight for the division within the 2010’s between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, stable arguments might be made for each events.
1. Stipe Miocic: Miocic edges out Daniel Cormier for 2 causes: he holds the file for many consecutive title defenses in UFC heavyweight historical past with three and Cormier’s prolonged tour at gentle heavyweight. Longevity isn’t every thing, nevertheless it has to rely for one thing and it’s sufficient to be a separator between a pair of greats who each personal a win in opposition to the opposite. The opposite names Miocic has overwhelmed is probably the most full resume for the last decade too. Mark Hunt. Roy Nelson. Junior dos Santos. Alistair Overeem. Fabricio Werdum. Maybe most spectacular was his win over Francis Ngannou, a freight practice that few believed may very well be stopped on the time. Miocic ate one of the best the highly effective Frenchman needed to supply and proceeded to embarrass him after he did. Not too unhealthy for a firefighter. Not unhealthy in any respect….
2. Daniel Cormier: Permit me to remind everybody that Cormier started his profession as a heavyweight and gained the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix… as an alternate. Whereas his resume isn’t as full as Miocic’s, there are nonetheless loads of spectacular names on there, together with Miocic, Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett, Derrick Lewis, Frank Mir, Nelson. When the one man you’ve misplaced to over the last decade within the division is the #1 title on the record, you’re doing one thing proper. Take note, it’s the identical case for Cormier at gentle heavyweight. Cormier is extra than simply an all-time nice heavyweight. He’s an all-time nice, interval.
3. Cain Velasquez: Some may say it was a mistake for the UFC to present Velasquez the push they did, notably throughout the Mexican neighborhood. Velasquez clearly had the expertise to be the person for the division over everything of the last decade. Accidents ruined issues. It isn’t simply the shortage of exercise both. His first profession loss got here whereas he was battling a knee damage in opposition to dos Santos. The final lack of his profession – offered he’s formally finished – noticed a diminished Velasquez fall to Ngannou. However when Velasquez was on, he was a whirling dervish. He dethroned Brock Lesnar. He avenged his first profession loss twofold, placing on two of probably the most devastating beatings within the historical past of the game on dos Santos. Two decimations of Bigfoot. His final profession win over Travis Browne tends to be ignored too. Velasquez often is the final case of what-if.
4. Francis Ngannou: Had Ngannou acquired a second title shot earlier than the shut of the last decade, we very properly might have been speaking about him as the highest heavyweight of the last decade. The large man had a hell of a run earlier than operating into Miocic, blasting Overeem into one other dimension with one of many all-time nice KO’s that actually had folks questioning if Overeem was lifeless. The Miocic loss left Ngannou misplaced for a bit – his loss to Lewis is among the worst fights in MMA historical past – however he discovered himself on the finish of 2018 and bulldozed Curtis Blaydes (for the second time), Velasquez, and dos Santos to place himself subsequent in line as soon as Miocic and Cormier settle their rubber match. On the shut of the last decade, there was nobody who invoked extra concern within the sport, a lot much less the division.
5. Fabricio Werdum: Werdum narrowly edges dos Santos as a result of spectacular run he needed to declare the title from Velasquez. Most keep in mind his crowning efficiency in opposition to Velasquez for Werdum’s clever preparation – he got here out weeks forward to acclimate to the altitude of Mexico Metropolis and creating Sea-Stage Cain – however his selecting aside of Browne and KO of Hunt alongside the way in which to the title needs to be equally remembered. Don’t overlook Werdum additionally handed Fedor Emelianenko his first legit loss to open up the last decade as properly. That win and his claiming of the UFC title ensured his place amongst the all-time heavyweight greats.
6. Junior dos Santos: The primary few years of the 2010’s appeared like the last decade would belong to dos Santos. Brutal beatdowns of Nelson and Shane Carwin preceded his dethroning of Velasquez, adopted by a simple protection over the adorned Mir. Whereas dos Santos was hit or miss for the remainder of the last decade after Velasquez, he was at all times preventing prime competitors and managed to prove a number of high quality wins over the course of the last decade, together with over Miocic, Hunt, and Lewis. The Brazilian positive end the last decade the way in which he began it, nevertheless it hardly means he ever proved himself to be a simple out, whilst the quantity of injury he gathered over the last decade piled up.
7. Curtis Blaydes: If Blaydes had the chance to combat a better degree of competitors, he very properly might have ended up greater on the record. Sadly for him, a lot of his victories weren’t in opposition to one of the best competitors, his finest wins coming in opposition to a past-his-prime Overeem and an even-further-past-his-prime Hunt. Nonetheless, Blaydes utilized his wrestling pedigree and spectacular physicality to nice impact, mauling a number of of his opponents on the bottom. In truth, Overeem appeared like he was a slasher movie sufferer after Blaydes was finished with him. Too unhealthy he couldn’t make his contests with Ngannou aggressive. However, there’s a powerful probability Blaydes shall be greater on the record of 2020’s heavyweights.
8. Alistair Overeem: Although he has a foul behavior of ending up on the unsuitable finish of a spotlight reel, Overeem has produced a number of of his personal during the last decade. The previous Strikeforce champion KO’d dos Santos, Arlovski, and Hunt in brutal vogue, along with wins over Werdum (twice), Lesnar, Nelson, and Mir. He could not pose the intimidating determine he did early within the decade throughout his Ubereem part, however Overeem has managed to be a noteworthy determine all through the course of the last decade.
9. Mark Hunt: Hunt’s profession was considered over when the last decade started. As an alternative, the meat of profession was simply starting. Although he ended the last decade with a .500 file, Hunt was one of the vital feared males within the division all the way in which up till his final combat in 2018. Given his KO’s of Chris Tuchscherer, Chieck Kongo, Stefan Struve, Nelson, Mir, and Lewis, there wasn’t something light about Hunt. A number of of his opponents have been by no means the identical after their conferences with Hunt, notably Struve. Then once more, I doubt I’d be the identical if I needed to take care of a damaged jaw. There was at all times appreciable threat of that taking place when somebody stepped within the cage with Hunt.
10. Derrick Lewis: It’s onerous to say whether or not it was the spectacular brutality behind Lewis’ wins or his personable interviews post-fight that has made the Black Beast a fan favourite. Whereas the simple reply is each, we wouldn’t be getting these colourful interviews with out Lewis doing his job within the cage within the first place. His come-from-behind win over Alexander Volkov was one of many biggest within the historical past of the game and his KO’s over Shamil Abderakhimov and Browne have been masterpieces in violence. Even when it was a horrible visible efficiency, securing a win over Francis Ngannou has to rely for one thing as properly… proper?
Honorable Mentions: Frank Mir, Bigfoot Silva, Andrei Arlovski, Alexander Volkov, Vitaly Minakov, Josh Barnett, Roy Nelson, Cheick Kongo
Mir fought his approach right into a UFC title shot and broke Large Nog’s arm earlier than a steep decline. Silva decimated Fedor (when it nonetheless meant one thing) and upset Overeem to earn his personal UFC title shot earlier than TRT was banned. Arlovski’s revitalization led to potential title talks briefly. Volkov was Bellator champion earlier than what has been a largely profitable UFC run. Minakov by no means got here to the UFC, however was additionally Bellator champion whereas terrorizing the Russian circuit. Sadly, he lacks a signature win. Barnett made it to the finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, however wasn’t energetic sufficient over the last decade. Nelson was at all times a tricky out in his prime, however by no means received over the hump. Kongo put collectively an eight-fight win streak, however might by no means safe a win over a very elite opponent.