After Alistair Overeem, who’s next in line for a heavyweight title shot?

Remember when the UFC heavyweight division was stacked with contenders a couple of years ago?

Upstarts like Travis Browne and Stefan Struve jockeyed for position alongside seasoned veterans such as Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. But 2011 really flattened the division out. With Junior Dos Santos claiming the heavyweight crown, the list of contenders have fallen to the wayside. We’ve seen Shane Carwin suffer another injury, Travis Browne lose thanks to an injury and rising names such has Stipe Miocic and Brendan Schaub all see their star dim courtesy of an opponent who refused to be a yellow brick road to a title. 

So the question now is “who’s next?” It’s obvious that Alistair Overeem will be the next in line barring a loss to “Bigfoot” Silva at UFC 156. If Cain Velasquez is able to beat Junior Dos Santos, chances are that the two will have a rubber match. However, after that, there’s really nobody left. The gap between Cain, JDS and Alistair and the rest of the heavyweights is extremely wide and the UFC is going to have a hard time finding names that are worthy of challenging for the title should Dos Santos end up winning again against Velasquez. Especially when you consider that Dos Santos has already dusted off two of the names I’m about to put in the title mix below.  

Here are three names that could get the call by the end of 2013.

Daniel Cormier

He’s the most obvious of the bunch. After winning the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, Cormier appears to be ready for that next step. He certainly has the tools although he will be an undersized heavyweight when having to compete with the goliaths in the UFC. It’s obviously a different breed of fighters than what Cormier has faced before. The only other issue is if his teammate Cain Velasquez ends up becoming champion. Then he would end up playing the role of bodyguard to Cain’s title. It doesn’t seem like anything would derail his ranking unless he loses to unheralded Dion Staring at the final Strikeforce event in January.

Stefan Struve

The 7 footer is still evolving. Even though he lost to Dos Santos before, it’s easy to write that off because it was back when the Dutchman had just celebrated his 21st birthday. Since being knocked out by Travis Browne last May, Struve has hit his stride and reeled off four consecutive victories — all by stoppage —  against the likes of Pat Barry (submission), Dave Herman (KO), Lavar Johnson (Submission) and Stipe Miocic (KO). He’ll be facing Mark Hunt in March and if he’s able to score yet another finish, it’s safe to say that he deserves to get a shot at the title by the end of next year.

Fabricio Werdum

The Fedor slayer has showed much improved striking in his wins over Roy Nelson and Mike Russow after putting up a stinker against Alistair Overeem. His brilliance on the ground would make a fight with Velasquez or Dos Santos interesting. However, his striking would be well behind the likes of Dos Santos, who starched him at UFC 90 back in 2008. I’m not sure if he’s earned a spot in the title chase or if he is there by default. He’s about to be tied up shooting TUF Brazil opposite Big Nog and a loss in their matchup would destroy his standing. 


33 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Brian Cox

    Brian Cox

    December 29, 2012 at 1:13 am

    None of the above.

    Chael Sonnen will call out The Champ in a four week, verbal assault on Twitter and he will be given an immediate title shot, by Dana.

  2. Profile photo of MMA Don

    MMA Don

    December 29, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Surely Arlovski will get a shot soon. He's riding a four fight win streak (after a four fight losing streak), he's the only man ever to KO Roy Nelson (more than Junior ever did), and he is a former champ. Assuming he gets past Monson in February then I say make him no. 1 contender. Bring him back Dana!!

  3. Profile photo of eatandtrain

    eatandtrain

    December 29, 2012 at 3:13 am

    Todd Duffee is going to get a few first round knockouts and will soon be mentioned in the title shot mix.

  4. Profile photo of enjoylife321

    enjoylife321

    December 29, 2012 at 4:54 am

    It seems like we might have to ring up Tim Silvia soon if things get anymore desperate. Apart from Cormier and Reem, noone else in the HW division looks like a serious threat. By that I mean, guys like big country, Frank Mir. Good fighters, no discredit, but unlikely to get a belt based on previous matchups and losses. It seems there are just alot of fun fights in the division like Pat Barry, but noone impressively racing to the titleshot

    • Profile photo of Brian Cox

      Brian Cox

      December 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      @ Enjoy

      I don't know if the division is as weak as people are painting it. I do know this, it's a dramatic improvement over what it used to be. To think we had a division where Silvia, Arlovski and Vera were holding or vying for the title and a retired, very small HW named Randy Couture getting up off the couch, coming out of retirement and taking the belt. Only to have an MMA challenged massive wrestler take it from him.Those were some pretty sad days, IMO. No disrespect to Randy.

      Today, the division might not be as deep as some would like, but at it's highest levels…it's an ugly place to try and climb to the top of.

  5. Profile photo of Krogan

    Krogan

    December 29, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Whom ever isn't injured when champ himself isn't injured, that's who.

  6. Profile photo of IChokePeople

    IChokePeople

    December 29, 2012 at 10:23 am

    HW is, was and always will be the most shallow division. Part of this is just due to the fact that there aren't that many guys walking around at a healthy 240+ lbs. The other factor is that there are even fewer guys that size that are any good. Big guys tend to not work as hard on technique because they are the biggest, strongest guy in the gym and they get away with more. The few guys that do work on developing their skill to a high level dominate everyone else and you end up with an already small division that has four or five guys at the top that the rest of the division can't compete with. This will never change.

  7. Profile photo of highkick12

    highkick12

    December 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Its not that the divisions are weak really, its more that right now there are so many champions that are a step above the competition that it makes the division appear weak. If Anderson retired, the MW wouldnt all of a sudden have better fighters but it would appear to be a much stronger division without such a dominate champ looking down on everyone.
    Thankfully JDS knocks guys out left and right so I have no problem with him keeping the belt for a while and hope that he does.

  8. Profile photo of KeithFarrell

    KeithFarrell

    December 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Jumping the gun a little aren't we?

  9. Profile photo of x murderer

    x murderer

    December 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    what about hunt? why assume he'll lose to struve?

    • Profile photo of Brian Cox

      Brian Cox

      December 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      Hunt has more than enough "Matt Serra" mojo in him to become champ. The only thing I'd count Hunt out of, would be a fall from a very tall building, because the ground might elect to move out of the way, rather than be hit by him.

      In terms of just hitting people and making them go bye-bye, he, Cormier, Berry and Carwin probably have the most brutal, one-stroke power. Put that together with an ever improving TDD, the tree stumps he walks around on and the short cement pillar that his head sits on, he has more than enough to challenge and become champion.

  10. Profile photo of TwA

    TwA

    December 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    cormier

  11. Profile photo of x murderer

    x murderer

    December 30, 2012 at 1:06 am

    IF overeem gets through big foot (which I doubt will happen) cain will DESTROY him.

  12. Profile photo of thexperience1

    thexperience1

    December 30, 2012 at 11:37 am

    What?? first of all the whole Big Foot / Overeem matchup is a fucking joke… They're feeding Big Foot to the dogs.. it's a bitchmove and it makes me feel like they wanna cut the friendly giant… Overeem will run through Big Foot like a knife through butter… and if u think Cain is gonna destroy Overeem, you're fucking delusional. Overeem is simply too strong. Cain won't be able to muscle overeem around like he did Dos Santos… and Overeem's striking will make Cain's kickboxing look like childsplay…. I give Dos Santos a punchers chance against Overeems (eventhough it's very unlikely he would succeed to KO him) and i give Cain very little chance against overeem if he manages to get the fight into the champion rounds and that's a BIG "IF"…..

    • Profile photo of x murderer

      x murderer

      December 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      cain will outstrike overeem like he did jds. overeem has great knees. but his boxing isn't even as good as werdums…(don't give me that k1 bs now…the night overeem became champ he didn't face the best competition there is…he never faught schilt and badr hari ko'd him in their last bout) cain is overall more well rounded. he willm either grind it out in a brutal way like he did vs jds or KO overeem. you know where I put my bif "IF"…I expect big foot to pull a big upset against alister.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply