In boxing and many other combat sports, the heavyweight division has traditionally produced the biggest stars and attracted the most attention. Not so in mixed martial arts, where lightheavyweights have been the focal point of the sport ever since the inception of weight classes. This has been especially true in UFC, where the biggest names have fought at 205 lbs while the heavyweight division suffered from the lack of talent and competition.
Things were looking up for the heavyweights when Zuffa purchased Pride FC; however UFC failed to sign most of Pride’s biggest heavyweight stars in Fedor Emelianenko, Sergei Kharitonov, and the former UFC champion Josh Barnett; while Mirko ‘Cro-Cop’ Filipovic’s excursion into the Octagon ended with a whimper. Of all the Pride heavys, only Antonio ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira thrived in the UFC.
In addition to the lack of quality contenders, UFC has also suffered from a string of bad luck with their heavyweight title holders: from Barnett’s and Tim Sylvia’s steroid scandals, to Frank Mir’s motorcycle accident, to Randy Couture’s resignation - they have been unable to establish a proper lineage, crowning interim champions on numerous occasions when the previous title holders left the organization without losing their belts. After Couture resigned from his contract and former champions Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski left UFC for the new rival Affliction, the heavyweight division was at its lowest point in a long time.
Recently, Couture announced that he will be returning to the UFC after a year-long legal battle. Couture’s return, in addition to Brock Lesnar’s debut in the top 20 after defeating Heath Herring, shifted the balance of HW division slightly into UFC’s favor. According to the latest Fightmatrix.com ranking
, 3 of the Top 5, 5 of the Top 10, and 7 of the Top 20 heavyweights are currently competing in the UFC.Here is an in-depth look at UFC’s heavyweight division