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Rankings Spotlight: MMA’s Top 5 Heavyweights

(“I don’t like ‘queer street’. Write that down in your little notebook.”)

In the aftermath of Fedor Emelianenko‘s upset loss to Antonio Silva last weekend — four months after Brock Lesnar was roughly stripped of his UFC title by Cain Velasquez — MMA’s global heavyweight picture is in a state of flux. So, we figured it was a good time to launch a new rankings feature on CagePotato. Every week, Ben, Mike and Chad will try to justify their top five rankings for each weight division, and we’re kicking things off with the big boys. Check out our thoughts below, and let us know how you see MMA’s current heavyweight top five…

Ben Goldstein
1. Cain Velasquez: I think we can all agree he’s the top dog right now. In one fight, Brock Lesnar’s reputation went from “toughest S.O.B. on the planet” to “man-baby who goes fetal at the first sign of pressure.” You can blame/thank Cain for that. Aside from getting wobbled a couple times by Cheick Kongo, he’s cruised through all nine of his career fights with no difficulty whatsoever.

2. Junior Dos Santos: A future champion who has put together one of the most impressive contendership runs in UFC history. I think he’ll be able to add Lesnar to his list of scalps in June. And then…?

3. Brock Lesnar: With such a massive psychological hole in his game and just a 5-2 overall record, it’s weird calling Brock the third greatest heavyweight in the world. I’m not sure I agree with myself here. But until Werdum and Overeem face off in April, neither of those guys deserves to be called top three either.

4. Fabricio Werdum:
He beat Fedor Emelianenko when Fedor was still technically the man. You can’t devalue that accomplishment even if the Fedor Era is now officially over. If he can take out Overeem (again), even the doubters will have to consider him an elite heavyweight.

5. Alistair Overeem: An inflated record littered with cans? Sure. The best heavyweight striker in the world, who would rape every other heavyweight not on this list, and probably Brock Lesnar as well? Yep.

Chad Dundas
1. Cain Velasquez: He’s the top heavy in the top company in the world. Nuff said.

2. Alistair Overeem: I firmly believe he got there through nefarious means, but at this point I have no reason to think The Reem is anything other than an absolute beast.

3. Junior dos Santos: Weird thing is, a lot of the guys who fault Overeem for not fighting top competition have JDS ranked No. 2. Hypocritical much?

4. Brock Lesnar: Much of the MMA world has left him for dead, but I still think it takes a very specific (and very rare) skill set to take Lesnar out.

5. Shane Carwin: Inactivity be damned. If Carwin can return from spinal issues (no, you’re right, it’s a big “if”) he might be the biggest threat to Cain Velasquez’s time on top.

Mike Russell
1. Alistair Overeem: In spite of the fact that he lost to the only man on this list to test him, I don’t think that any one of them would touch him in a fight these days. We’ll soon know the answer after April 9, but remember who predicted he would beat Werdum when the time comes.

2. Cain Velasquez: Considering he only started training and fighting in MMA five years ago, Velasquez is a beast. I’m not convinced that he could take Overeem, considering the sheer strength and striking advantages the horsemeat connoisseur holds over him. Cain got his bell rung by Cheick Kongo. Overeem would crack it like the Liberty Bell.

3. Fabricio Werdum: Werdum is the quiet workhorse of the list who has the potential to beat any of the others, but before his massive upset win over Fedor, never really won the clutch fights he’s needed to to further his career. Another win over another top 5 heavyweight would raise his stock in the division considerably.

4. Junior Dos Santos: Dos Santos is the wildcard of the bunch. His stand-up prowess is undeniable, and his wins over Werdum and Roy Nelson are more impressive than those of most of the men in the top 3 have racked up the past few years, but the question is, how would he do against the 2011 version of Vai Cavalo, or even guys like Antonio Silva and Shane Carwin for that matter? If he can beat Brock Lesnar at the TUF 13 finale and Velasquez when they eventually meet, then I’ll be convinced that he deserves to be ranked higher.

5. Shane Carwin: Carwin almost beat Brock Lesnar, but a back injury coupled with a lack of proper conditioning and an adrenaline dump brought on by the excitement of knowing he was very close to becoming champion was his undoing. Now that his back has been repaired and he is working with GSP’s former strength and conditioning coach, Jonathan Chaimberg, I think we could see him get another title shot before the end of 2011, which he very well could win if he comes into the fight focused and prepared.

Cagepotato Comments

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Ogre- February 17, 2011 at 9:35 am
It's very disheartening to see Brock's name in two of these three lists, and a little less disheartening, more so disappointing, that the only one that doesn't feature his name has Alistair Overeem as top dog. There's no way around the absolute truth that he is a colossus of a man, who in recent years has hastily exterminated anyone burdened with the misfortune of fighting him. There's also no way around the fact that in recent years the fighters baring this misfortune have been less than convincing names who were outclassed before their bouts even began. There's also the matter of his chin. This is a chin, that to his credit, has hardly been touched by MMA gloves in two years. This is also a chin, that when tagged by a fist worthy of doing so, will give. Someone like Cain, who is most definitely worthy of being ranked as number one. As for Junior, the guy is an absolute wrecking ball, also worthy of top five consideration. Fabricio is the man. Not necessarily number one, just, the man. And as for Brock... Just please, no. Remove his name from here so I can feel as though I'm reading the articles of men with Integrity.
Denny-Slim- February 17, 2011 at 7:40 am
Mike Russell is correct.
Gorilla Monsoon- February 17, 2011 at 6:09 am
K-1 = Kickboxing... you guys are ranking MMA... last 2 MMA fights The Reem had were against Rogers, and Duffee... if you're ranking MMA, this guy isn't in the top 5. (for the record, he is totally capable of being top3, he just has to fight more often and against better comp)
stopdrinkingpee- February 17, 2011 at 1:51 am
I agree with Chad.
thepractice- February 17, 2011 at 1:41 am
Thank you Russrell. right on
TehTed- February 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm
Like Ben's list, think Chad's list is almost perfect, and would (respectfully) like some of what Mike is smoking.

I know that Werdum and Reem have been debated to death, but I feel like if you put Werdum top five, you HAVE to have Bigfoot Silva top five as well, right? If Fedor was good enough to boost Werdum into the top five, then Silva should get credit for absolutely shellacking him. Werdum 'caught him' and got lucky...Silva took him apart piece by piece. Which is why I think that Werdum was actually a bigger loser than Fedor on Saturday; he went from the guy that beat the GOAT and #1 guy in the world, to a guy that beat someone who is definitely on the decline. It's like the difference between dunking on 1996 Michael Jordan and 2008 Michael Jordan - context matters. I think Silva and Werdum are both top ten heavyweights...but I can't think of either of them as top five. Alistair is a huge, scary dude...but K1 isn't MMA, even as impressive as his run was, I'd still like him to fight somebody top ten before annointing him. If he destroys Werdum like he destroyed Duffee, we'll talk.

1. Cain 2. JDS 3. Brock 4. Alistair 5. Carwin
orangey- February 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm
@Predator, yeah but you're still forgetting that brock got up in the first round after it was almost stopped and then choked him out second round (doesn't matter if carwin lost his gas or had an adrenaline dump. Brock STILL could have laid on him, but finished him fast). I am no brock nut hugger. Nor am I a Carwin nut hugger like alot of you. I just think accomplishments and competition should grant a high rank, not just skill (overreem). And don't forget the above lists aren't GOAT lists. Just current top 5.

1. Cain
2. JDS
3. Brock
4. Werdum/Overreem (winner)
5. Carwin
predator- February 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm
For the record:

Lesnar got the shit beat out of him by carwin. For chist sake he was against the cage for like 1:40 and did not move at all. He looked dazed and the fight should have been called, I think Lesnar has potential and I am a fan. BUT you have to admit your defeats, and focus on what happened. in this case he got grounded and then pounded, I would say he needs to work on ground defense (perhaps taking lessons from Anderson silva, who fucking dominates from the bottom)
predator- February 16, 2011 at 8:13 pm
no no no.

1) Fedor, 30 and 2 nuff said. but I dont get why you guys swear him off with only 2 losses??? sure two in a row but Lesnar lost two within the first 7 fights. Fedor was unbeaten for almost 10 years,,,,,,name someone else who reigns that long??? Anderson silva's streak is what 4 1/2 years.

2)carwin, crushed lesnar. In fact he should be the champ right now anyways.
3)Cain, only because he beat Lesnar and is number one in UFC. Besides a rip rotator cuff is a big fucking deal, and I doubt he will come back at 100% this year.

There is no point to assign past two, as there is only two main fight promoters. I will say that almost any of the HW you guys/gals listed could be a top dog with proper training. That is the name of the game train to win.

feel free to blast my shit, but you know I have a point.
1234- February 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm
1 Overeem
2 Barnett
3 Fedor
4 Kharitonov
5 werdum
6 bigfoot
7 Aleks
8 Nog
9 Cro cop
10 JDS, CAin, Carwin, Lesnar all at 7 for being equally average newbs might as well throw in Rogers and Roy nelson too. You shouldn't even be allowed in the top ten with less than ten fights.
E-Force- February 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm
Brock Lesnar? Any fighter in the Strikeforce Grand Prix would demolish that prix.
StinkFacer- February 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm
Mike Russel...For the Win and Fuck the World....what is that? FTWx2?
KJD- February 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm
Fedor still deserves a spot. I am all about Shane winning that title though.
meh- February 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm
LOL at Brock being anywhere close to the top 5.

1) Cain
2) Reem
3) JDS
4) Werdum
5) Bigfoot
Uzitotinbaby- February 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm
Overeem hasn't fought a top ranked opponent since he was run out of the light-heavyweight division by Shogun, Little Nog, and Arona. He may very well be the best on the planet, but he needs to prove it.
Waxedpants- February 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm
I love fedor too but some of you crybabies need to remove his nuts from your mouth and start being realistic.
chiggs- February 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Sorry your wrong about Lesnar, Even Dana is on record saying that he verbally quit/tapped out, as did the ref. Hell pretty sure even lesnar said he quit verbally, and ya, it was Carwins fight to lose, he had Lesnar right at the point of no return for the most part, but Lesnar pulled out the sub outta his ass, If/when they rematch, I cant see Lesnar comin out on top. Dude just hates gettin punched, plain an simple. Fedor gets hit, an his expression never changes. As for rest of the list, gonna have to agree to disagree as everyone's opinions are so differing when it comes to the rankings, its pretty much pointless,other then the fun of the debates themselves lol.
MrPresident- February 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm
How does Cain lose points for getting rocked? Thats the stupidest thing ive ever heard. He gets rocked in the first 15 secs of the fight, secures the take down and goes on to win the fight. If anything, he gains points for the recovery and to go on to the win.
KrmtDfrog- February 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm
Anyone ranking Werdum above JDS is a crackhead.
donfryesmustache- February 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm
@bob, obvious bias aside lesnar did not verbally tap, it was a TKO, meaning the ref stopped it. I still find it funny how ppl question lesnar's heart despite taking a worse beating again carwin. All he did was stand up, smile, then choked carwin the fuck out
Buff Frank Mir- February 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm
The difference between Brock and Fedors loses is that Brock quit and verbally tapped, Fedor never gave up and kept defending. Im not a fan of either but gained alot more respect for Fedor and Brock showed no heart.
Buff Frank Mir- February 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm
Obviously Frank Mir is number 1!
I don't get why Werdum losing to JDS like three years ago keeps being brought up? That was so long ago, even tho I would put JDS ahead of him. My true feelings - 1. Cain 2. JDS 3. Frank Mir 4. Overeem 5. Brock/Carwin?
donfryesmustache- February 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm
@ everyone who says lesnar's loss was worse than fedora's, take a look at their pics after their respective fights, lesnar looks beat up yes with mini cheek gash but fedor looks fucking deformed with that hematoma. He couldn't see out of his eye
donfryesmustache- February 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm
@ andre, now your just sounding like a hater. Lesnar had no gameplan for carwin huh? When his original plan of donkey kong smash failed he took his whuppin, regained his composure n calmly sank in a textbook armtriangle. Carwin did not beat himself, lesnar fucking choked it out of him. His lack of cardio is not an excuse. On the same token lesnar's lack of standup is also no excuse but let me remind you it was good enough to beat a still top ten@ the time randy couture n to literally break the face of heath herring with one punch. Both lesnar n fedor are still top ten but lesnar at the moment has a better argument that he is top 5
RwilsonR- February 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm
@ Chiggs - I've watched that fight like 10 times now, and I still don't see how you can give Fedor that first round. Was it closer than the second round? Yes. But Bigfoot was able to block or dodge most of Fedor's overhand and looping punches, and every major blow landed was by Bigfoot. I just don't see it.