After a series of underwhelming performances (and a failed drug test) the UFC's heavyweight division has been getting pretty thin. Once at 30 fighters, it's now down to 24 following the release/retirements of Phil De Fries, Lavar Johnson, Cheick Kongo, Shane Carwin, and Christian Morecraft . The UFC is looking to fill in the gaps with some fresh faces.
Polish heavyweight Daniel Omielanczuk has been on a tear of late. He's currently riding an 11 fight win streak and is 15–3–1 overall, with one no-contest. He's a submission specialist with a competitive kickboxing background, with 9 of his victories coming by tapout. Unfortunately for him he's fought almost entirely on smaller shows against regional competition. The biggest name on his record to date is Konstantine Gluhov, whom he lost to via majority decision in KSW.
Omielanczuk is 30, which is meaningless by heavyweight standards, but he's also only 6' and 240 lbs. At that size, and with his frame, his future may quickly turn to light heavyweight with a loss. Check out a highlight of his fights (with horrible music) here.
While age is much more relative in the heavyweight division, it has to be noted that the UFC's other signing, Ukrainian, Nikita Krylov is a prospect in the truest sense. At only 20 years old he already holds an undefeated, 14–0 record. None of his professional fights have gone the distance and his victories have been well split with 9 coming by submission and 5 by KO/TKO.
Krylov is 6'3, 245 lbs, but with his youth and lanky frame it has to be expected that he'll only fill out more as time goes on. He has a Karate background and it shows in his aggressive striking. He's not uncomfortable on the ground, as shown by his multiple submission victories, but he definitely needs polish all around. The biggest victory of his career came in his last fight against undefeated German, Gabriel "Panda" Tampu under the M-1 promotional banner.
This could be a sign that the UFC is opening the doors to more eastern European fighters, picking up Krylov directly off a fight for M-1 Global definitely shows promise. Perhaps the success of recent acquisitions Rustam Khabilov and Khabib Nurmagomedov, as well as the moneyballing efforts of Bellator in grabbing young Russian fighters, have added impetus to the UFC's outreach to former Eastern Bloc nations. As always you can check out all the most recent UFC roster moves here.