After UFC 131 and Strikeforce Werdum vs. Overeem, we now have a good look at where the most of the top Heavyweights in the world are lined up in the future. After thrashing Shane Carwin at UFC 131, Junior Dos Santos cemented his #1 contender status to face UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Valasquez later this year in November.
After Strikeforce's completion of the Quarter Finals of their Heavyweight Grand Prix last night, we have our Semi-Finals set-ups for the next several months. Alistar Overeem is set to face the man responsible for knocking Grand Prix favorite Fedor Emelianenko out of the tournament in the giant Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, while Josh Barnett will face the heavy handed Sergei Kharitonov.
With these match-ups set, the question now is, where do the losers of these bouts and the rest of the Heavyweight division go from here?
Here is my take on what fights I think should, or will, take place in the months to come. I'll start first with the UFC...
Shane Carwin vs. Roy Nelson - Both Carwin and Nelson are recently coming off one-sided losses against the hands of JDS and Frank Mir resepectively. At this point both men have lossed any chance to be considered in the title mix, but that doesn't mean they cannot fight for relevancy in the division. Carwin was originally slated to fight Big Country at UFC 125 before having to pull out due to neck and back surgery. They were rumored to fight again in May earlier this year, but the UFC decided to go with Mir vs. Nelson instead. Now that both men have recovered from surgery and lossed their recent outings, the UFC can make the match that fans were suppose to see last year. Both fighters have shown amazing heart and durability, and we know they like to stand and bang. This will be a barn burner for sure. The winner remains relevant and has a chance to work their way back up the ranks. The loser will find themselves at a career cross roads.
Frank Mir vs. The winner of Big Nog/Brendan Schaub - Frank Mir is like a yo-yo. He's up and then he's down, and then back up again. There are times when he looks great, and times when he looks like he doesn't belong at the elite level. Personally, I think Mir doesn't get the credit he deserves, but he is rightfully criticizied. The last time we saw him he dominated the very tough Roy Nelson and looked like a fighter who was starting to bring all the facets of his game together. He's riding a two fight win streak, but right now he's nowehere in the title discussion. Another win might change that for Mir in a thin division. The fight that makes the most sense for him would be the winner of UFC 134'a heavyweight battle between MMA veteran Antonio Nogueira and UFC prospect Brendan Schaub. Schaub has openly said he'd like to fight Mir and with a win over Nog and possibly Mir it puts him right in line for title discussion. Nog was suppose to rematch Mir UFC 119 before pulling out due to an injury and I imagine that'sa fight both men would like to revisit.
Brock Lesnar - This one is hard to say due to illness, but I hope he can make a full recovery and fight at a top level in the UFC. I'm not the biggest fan of the guy, but he's always entertaining to watch and no one brings a big fight atmosphere like Brock can. Depending on his recovery and scheduling, as well as certain fight outcomes, I can see the UFC making Mir/Brock 3.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Fedor Emelianenko- With both men out of the Heavyweight Grand Prix, this fight makes the most sense. Despite Fedor's upcoming fight with Dan Henderson and regardless if he wins or loses, I see now way M-1 doesn't push for this fight. Fedor and Werdum have both expressed interest in a rematch and I think this is a win Fedor desperately would like to have back (probably even moreso after Werdum's performance last night). Werdum can get the chance to prove the first win wasn't just a fluke due to Fedor being reckless. For Fedor a rematch presents a couple of options. One, he can avenge the first man to beat him and show that the first fight was due to a critical lapse in judgment and he can retire on a victory. The second option is that he continues fighting and does what he loves to do which is compete. There is still a lot of questions about Fedor and how much longer he will continue to fight, but one thing I feel certain about is we'll see this rematch before all is said and done.
This is how I hope to see the top heavywieights in the world of MMA go from here. Feel free to share your thoughts on who you'd like to see face off or how you think these fighters will be lined up. Thanks for reading