By Matt Saccaro
After the events of UFC 166, the heavyweight division is now the UFC’s least thrilling.
Heavyweight is the new middleweight. That is to say that the heavyweight division under Cain Velasquez‘s brutal, face-rearranging reign will resemble the middleweight division under Anderson Silva during his peak — a boring division where no fighter is a threat to the champ. A division where everybody says, “Meh, who cares about who’s challenging for the heavyweight title? Cain is going to destroy them anyway.”
The only fighter to ever humble Cain Velasquez was Junior Dos Santos. But Dos Santos couldn’t repeat his success. Velasquez wrought terrible vengeance on the Brazilian in the rematch at UFC 155, and then again in the rubber match at UFC 166.
Earlier this year, I predicted that the UFC heavyweight division would become stagnant and dull:
Both men are insanely talented. But that’s the problem — they’re both so talented that the rest of the fighters in the division aren’t a match for them. The only challenge to Velasquez is Dos Santos. The only challenge to Dos Santos is Velasquez.
I was right and wrong. Both men are talented. The rest of the division is no match for Dos Santos, but Dos Santos is clearly no match for Velasquez, their first fight notwithstanding. Thus, the future of the UFC heavyweight division is grim. Here’s how it’ll look:
Cain Velasquez destroys all comers — even Fabricio Werdum who, for some reason, people think is now a legitimate title contender. Velasquez will reduce Werdum to awkward, frustrated butt-scooting. The champ likely won’t have much of a problem with the other heavyweight hopefuls; none of them have answers for Velasquez’s wrestling, striking, and conditioning. Unfortunately, those same men probably don’t have an answer for Junior Dos Santos’ boxing acumen and power either.
The UFC heavyweight division in 2013 is analogous to the UFC middleweight division in 2006-7. Anderson Silva was the best guy. Rich Franklin was the next best guy and was better than everyone else besides Silva. The only problem? Silva brutalized Franklin so badly that discussing a rematch was asinine.
Now, just swap out Silva with Velasquez and Franklin with Dos Santos and you’ve got the post-UFC 166 heavyweight division. The excitement is gone. Everyone not named Junior Dos Santos will be fighting for the honor of being third-best, while Dos Santos himself will be fighting for the privilege of being Cain Velasquez’s eternal understudy.