There’s no doubt that Americans love Heavyweights. The decline of Heavyweight fighters in boxing can be directly paralleled to the decline of American interest in the sport. So, it’s no surprise that the success of the UFC’s Heavyweight division is tantamount to the success of the organization. That being said, if Heavyweights mean business for the UFC, then business is booming. Along with unrivaled knockout power, the division is stacked with talent, from Olympic wrestlers to world-class boxers and kickboxers. Although it seems that we are currently in a bit of a holdup at the top ranks of the hardest hitting division in the game, I will propose a path that would clear the clot and make way for an unimpeded journey to the pinnacle of combat sports.
Currently, the five most important names in the UFC Heavyweight division are Daniel Cormier, Brock Lesnar, Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones. I know what you’re thinking, that Brock Lesnar hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2016, and Jon Jones isn’t even a Heavyweight. But, both of these fighters have a certain explicit association with current Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, and both may prove an obstacle to the timely ascensions of Stipe Miocic and / or Francis Ngannou to the Heavyweight throne.
Daniel Cormier has previously stated that he wanted to retire at 40. He’s currently 39. He also stated that (as of now) he might be down to his last fight. As far as UFC fighters who have control over their own destinies, there’s Cormier and Conor. Conor McGregor controls his fortune because he generates massive pay-per-view buys. Cormier’s authority derives from the fact that he can do, and has done, everything for the organization. Along with being currently ranked the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC, Cormier is the second fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight classes simultaneously, and the only fighter in UFC history to defend titles in two weight classes. He fought Derrick Lewis on short notice. He was also a top-notch analyst and commentator for Fox UFC to boot.
So, if Daniel Cormier wants to fight Brock Lesnar, you have to let him. In addition to being a huge professional wrestling fan, Cormier deserves the big money fight. Stipe Miocic does have a legitimate gripe about not getting a timely rematch against Cormier for the opportunity to regain the Heavyweight title. Stipe reigned supreme over the division for three years, and over his career he has earned victories over some of the baddest men on the planet, including Roy Nelson, Junior dos Santos, Mark Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Fabrício Werdum, Alistair Overeem, and Francis Ngannou. If it was anyone other than Daniel Cormier, Stipe would have had his rematch already. Unfortunately for him, he’ll either have to wait, or attempt to regain his throne through a different path altogether.
If Cormier does fight again after his match with Lesnar, should he defeat Lesnar of course, Stipe still might not be the next in line. Daniel Cormier is essentially an undefeated fighter, that is if it weren’t for Jon Jones. Jon Jones has beaten Daniel Cormier twice, although the second fight was overturned to a no contest after Jones tested positive for Turinabol metabolites. It isn’t that far-fetched to think that Cormier might want one last shot at his longtime nemesis.
Rather than constantly solicit for a rematch with Cormier, it would be wiser for Stipe Miocic to grant Francis Ngannou a rematch, and try to derail the immense momentum that Ngannou has generated over his last two fights. Also, another victory over Ngannou would eliminate any chance that Ngannou has of jumping ahead of Miocic when the opportunity arises for the next Heavyweight title shot. The winner of Ngannou vs. Miocic 2 would certainly be the number one contender, awaiting a title fight against either Cormier (should he extend his career), Jon Jones (should he defeat Cormier and choose to stick around the Heavyweight division), or for the vacant or interim Heavyweight title.