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The MMA heavyweight division is a tragic disaster

By Zach Arnold | January 26, 2016

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I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the current state of affairs for MMA’s heavyweight division. Injury-plagued and severely lacking in depth, what was supposed to be a cornerstone of PPV sales has gone by the wayside.

Another injury has forced Cain Velasquez out of his fight against Fabricio Werdum, resulting in Stipe Miocic getting an immediate title match. Which promptly lead to Werdum backing out due to his own injuries.

Injuries are nothing new for Cain, but you have to question how much longer he will remain in the sport. Given the horrific lack of talented heavyweights in the sport, he can stick around as long as he wants to. The question is whether or not his body can continue to absorb the punishing training he puts himself through.

Don Frye said it best. In MMA, it’s the training that kills you and not the fight itself.

Look at Cain’s record — he’s had eight fights in six years, five of them against two common opponents (Junior dos Santos & Bigfoot Silva). He’s got an 85% winning percentage. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking. What’s gutting is how much money injuries have cost Cain Velasquez in terms of income. He’s lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. It’s impossible for UFC to trust him as a reliable main eventer, which is even more damaging.

A cursory look at the Sherdog Heavyweight MMA rankings is utterly depressing.

Werdum is injured. Cain is injured (again). Alistair Overeem has max leverage now on UFC but could choose to bolt to a more comfortable environment like Bellator which would also allow him to fight in Japan. Junior dos Santos is not an elite contender at this point in time. Stipe Miocic is your lone bright spot. Andrei Arlovski got destroyed by Miocic. Poor Matt Mitrione got damaged by Travis Browne. Ben Rothwell is a charismatic enigma facing a real opponent in Josh Barnett. Mark Hunt is a zombie. Vitaly Minakov isn’t fighting right now in Bellator. Roy Nelson is Roy Nelson. And Mirko Cro Cop got USADA’d.

This is awful. Let’s book Jon Jones vs. Fedor already.

No wonder UFC fought tooth-and-nail last year for Brock Lesnar’s services.

Topics: Bellator, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 12 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

12 Responses to “The MMA heavyweight division is a tragic disaster”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    Werdum did himself no favors in being honest about his withdrawal. It makes him look like a weak champion.

    The UFC did this to themselves by booking an immediate rematch that nobody wanted and with a guy with a history of injuries.

    Outside of about 10 key fights a year…. the UFC has really been bad lately.

  2. david m says:

    Werdum really embarrassed himself. Shameful. He was supposed to be facing the best HW of the last 5 years, and instead he could have faced a guy on two-weeks’ notice, but pulled out. Wow. Puts Conor McGregor’s performance against Mendes in another light.

    Between Cain and Khabib, you have to ask yourself wtf they are doing at AKA..

    • Muscle Hamster says:

      People acting as though Werdum has done something wrong – if he pulled out first then there would be nothing to discuss. He really shouldn’t have been fighting either opponent with his injury.

      Werdum and McGregor were in different situations. Werdum was in line for the biggest payday of his career. You can see why he didn’t want to pull out. But when his familiar opponent and payday are gone – it just wasn’t worth it.

      McGregor had already set himself up as a young, highly compensated draw at the time he fought Mendes. He demanded and got an unnecessarily created interim belt in order to fight Mendes.

      Werdum should not be shamed, McGregor should be commended.


    Werdum’s cracked toe is a worse liability against stipe than cain for sure. looks weak but its ufcs fault for choosing the man most likely to pull out over another more deserving but non hispanic fighter. And putting the fight off for too long.
    The problem is ufcs too stingy with the HW fights because they cost more. Ufc will talk up some great HW showdown on the horizon, but in the meantime HW fighters are growing old and grey in a meaningless revolving door gatekeeper cycle with little to no shot at the belt.
    I’d like to go on a rant regarding ufcs constant blow jobs, and I should point out 195 is a crummy card for sure minus Werd vs somebody, but there are some good fights on the LW horizon with diaz bros, khabib, conner. just ignore that neglected old HW division.

  4. Zach Arnold says:

    What were the prop odds of Ben Rothwell submitting Josh Barnett? I am stunned that Barnett walked right into that choke. At least he wasn’t Ryan Bader…

    • DIAZ'S PACKED BOWL says:

      Josh spent too much time practicing his pro open work out, and not enough prepping for the fight? Looks like he even tried a pro wrasling move to try and escape. LOL

      LOL at sage, EXPOSED~. The guy is a pretty crummy fighter a total white belt on the ground, but we knew that already. But hes worth 10 times the rest because he’s such a white guy and does some nice flips.
      He’ll have good company in the over-hyped high priced whites only trash bin with RR and PVS.

  5. david m says:

    Josh Barnett reached his MMA peak the day he beat Couture. It is amazing he is still fighting at a high level after so many fights. Congrats to Rothwell. I think AJ has a very good chance against Jon Jones, who doesn’t like getting hit at all.

  6. Safari_Punch says:

    Years ago you wouldn’t have seen fighters pull out of fights unless they were dead. The UFC threw a bone to the fighters with the health insurance and ever since then it has been downhill with fighters dropping by the wayside with questionable injuries, relatively speaking.

    The last thing the fans need is a fighter to replace Cain that is like Cain in terms of holding up the division. Eventually people are going to forget there is a heavyweight class of fighters out there.


    in other news all my favs won…even roy.
    Pyle, wonderboy and whoever ko’d that poor jew all got a much deserved bonus for keeping me awake.

    Wonder how long boring woodley will sit around waiting for his undeserved title shot, another year? Wonderboy is next in line. No way lawler stands up to that type of attack.


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