UFC 146, which has been formally announced for May 26 in Las Vegas, will be something like the Final Four of the UFC’s heavyweight division: A rare opportunity to see the four best fighters in one weight class paired off against each other in the Octagon on the same night.
Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem in the UFC 146 main event will determine the UFC heavyweight title, and Cain Velasquez vs. Frank Mir in the co-main event is a 3 vs. 4 matchup that will likely determine the next contender for the heavyweight belt.
So the top four heavyweights in the sport will sort themselves out soon. Find out how I rank the rest of the heavyweight division below.
Top 10 Heavyweights in Mixed Martial Arts
1. Junior Dos Santos: The heavy hands of Dos Santos are enough to make him the favorite to retain his title when he takes on Overeem, although if there’s anyone who can test Dos Santos’s chin, Overeem is the man who can do it.
2. Alistair Overeem: Trading punches with Dos Santos wouldn’t be a wise idea for Overeem, but Overeem will have a size and strength advantage over Dos Santos, and the best way for Overeem to beat Dos Santos is to use that strength advantage to grab hold of Dos Santos and control him in the clinch.
3. Cain Velasquez: It’s hard to believe Velasquez hasn’t won a fight since defeating Brock Lesnar a year and a half ago. I think he’ll get back on track against Mir, however, and I believe Velasquez will be fighting for the UFC belt again by the end of the year.
4. Frank Mir: Now on a three-fight winning streak with victories over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Roy Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop, Mir will earn a title shot if he beats Velasquez.
5. Fabricio Werdum: Werdum returned to the UFC with a victory over Roy Nelson, and he’ll be a heavy favorite to make it two in a row over Mike Russow, who’s a fine fighter but not in Werdum’s class.
6. Daniel Cormier: The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix is finally coming to a close when Cormier takes on Josh Barnett in May. Cormier can make a major statement that he deserves to be considered one of the elite heavyweights in all of MMA.
7. Josh Barnett: For Barnett, the Cormier fight is one last chance to gain back some of the respect he lost when multiple failed drug tests nearly derailed his career. Barnett can fight, and if he wins against Cormier he’ll have a lot of big fights ahead of him, in Strikeforce and the UFC.
8. Antonio Silva: Silva is coming off a loss to Cormier, but he’s got a big heavyweight fight of his own at UFC 146, when he takes on Roy Nelson in his UFC debut.
9. Shane Carwin: Carwin has fallen far since the knockout of Mir that improved his record to 12-0: That fight was two years ago, and all he’s done since then is lose to Brock Lesnar, lose to Junior Dos Santos and undergo back surgery. If he can come back at something close to full strength he can be one of the best in the world again, but that’s a big “if.”
10. Fedor Emelianenko: The best heavyweight ever is a long way from his prime, but back-to-back wins over Jeff Monson and Satoshi Ishii, and the general lack of depth in the heavyweight division, are enough to get him back into the bottom of the Top 10.
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