Say Farewell to the UFC Heavyweight Division
Farewell UFC heavyweight division, it had a good run, didn’t it? From 1997 to 2021 we had some fun fights and some good memories. If you’re a UFC heavyweight not named Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, or Jon Jones, we hope you enjoy your vacation. We appreciate your application but the UFC heavyweight title is currently not seeking new contenders. This championship belt is about to be tied up for the next three years.
Miocic, Ngannou, and Jones
Stipe Miocic (20-3) the current reigning champion will be looking to defend his championship against the Cameroonian bruiser Francis Ngannou (15-3) on March 27 at UFC 260, in a much-anticipated rematch.
Miocic and Ngannou first met in 2018 with Miocic winning a five-round unanimous decision. Since this Ngannou has emphatically earned his top contender position winning his last four fights all by knockout, and all four fights combined totaling 2 minutes and 42 seconds. These four fights were against two former champions and two fighters currently ranked in the top 5 at heavyweight. Ngannou has effectively cleared out the division of other contenders.
Miocic is a man who is in no rush to fight, though. In the last four years, he’s taken five fights, these five fights were an average of 9 months apart, remember this number, 9 months in between fights. In Miocic’s four title defenses three of them had been against former champions, the fourth was his defense against Ngannou.
MMA great Jon Jones (26-1) is packing on the pounds and moving up to heavyweight. Jones won the UFC light heavyweight championship a decade ago in 2011 against PRIDE star Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. Jones has a record of 13-0-0 1 NC in championship bouts and going 6-0-0 1 NC against UFC champions. Jon Jones, like Miocic, has a record of fighting an average of 9 months apart, in his last eight fights.
With Jones’ move to heavyweight Dana White, UFC president, has said, in an interview with TMZ, Jones will be getting an immediate title shot against Miocic or Ngannou, Jones will not have to fight a top contender and will jump the line ahead of other heavyweights. “He wants the winner of Stipe and Francis,” White continued, “So that fight has got to happen first.”
Scenarios of Miocic vs. Ngannou II
We have three potential scenarios in Miocic’s fight with Ngannou; the champion wins, loses, or draws.
If the champion Miocic were to win this bout, making the series 2-0 against Ngannou, then Miocic would then face Jon Jones in his move to heavyweight for his next fight, rather than face a top contender. Looking at history this fight would take 9 months to put together putting us at early January 2022.
If Miocic were to lose to Ngannou would the UFC be looking to put together a third match with these two fighters, as the is series is 1-1? Looking at UFC heavyweight history there have been 40 championship bouts and a quarter of them had been rematches. This rubber match would take us then to January 2022 and pushes the Jones fight to September 2022.
In the scenario of a draw, we would undoubtedly see an instant rematch between Miocic and Ngannou.
Enter Heavyweight Jon Jones
And what happens after Miocic and Ngannou have settled their score and we move on next to Jon Jones? We see a similar scenario at play. If Jones wins against either heavyweight, Miocic, or Ngannou, would the UFC organize an instant rematch?
This rematch then moves us as far as June 2023 at the latest September 2022 at the earliest. Meaning that if you are a top UFC heavyweight contender you could potentially have a title shot at its earliest opening of June 2023 or March 2024.
Tie Up the UFC Heavyweight Division?
Sometimes tying up a championship belt can be healthy for a division. In the past, we have seen champion belts tied up due to injury, a trilogy, The Ultimate Fighter coaching gig, or Champion vs. Champion match. In the cases of Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia, BJ Penn vs. Georges St-Pierre, or Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez it was a good time to tie up the belt for an extended period because these divisions had no clear top contenders, and the champions gave it time to sort out who a top contender would be.
However, in this case, we have two top contenders. Alexander Volkov and Derrick Lewis ranked #4 and #5 respectively, have cleared out the division defeating five fighters ranked in the top 10 in their current run. So what are these two fighters to do? Learn chess, take up dance? Their options are either wait until Miocic, Ngannou, Jones have ended their disputes, March 2024 at its latest, or face a series of rematches clearing out the division again, and potentially gaining a loss and losing their top contender spot.
So let’s wish warmest regards to Lewis, an au revoir to Ciryl Gane, and best wishes to Rozenstruik, and goodbye to Volkov. It was a fun time but fellas we will see you when you see you. We’ve reviewed your application for being a UFC champion and unfortunately, after careful consideration, we have decided not to take your application any further. In the words of Dana White, you’re in the mix, and we’ll see what happens.