6 options for the heavyweight title after UFC Jacksonville

Derrick Santistevan

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 17: Stipe Miocic commemorates his win over Daniel Cormier after their UFC Heavyweight Title Bout at UFC 241 at Honda Center on August 17, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Picture by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

With the UFC now back, UFC Jacksonville done and still no updates on Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier III, here are 6 next actions that can be done for the UFC heavyweight division and championship.

The UFC heavyweight championship is in quite a confusing and troublesome state of limbo currently, as we still have no information as to when to expect the long-anticipated trilogy bout between current champion Stipe Miocic and former champion Daniel Cormier.

Miocic had made his mark on the heavyweight division by becoming the first to defend the title three consecutive times before Cormier knocked him out at UFC 226 — making history of his own by becoming the second champ-champ in UFC history and the first to win UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight gold since Randy Couture. Instead of an immediate rematch, however, Cormier’s first title defense was an extremely short-notice replacement main event for UFC 230, where he submitted Derrick Lewis.

For Cormier’s second title defense, he didn’t intend to face Miocic again, as DC, the lifelong WWE fan, had his eyes set on a showdown with former UFC and WWE champion Brock Lesnar. The fight never came to fruition, however, thanks to the UFC’s then-new pay-per-view deal with ESPN+, meaning Lesnar wouldn’t get as much pay-per-view revenue. Instead, we got Cormier-Miocic II at UFC 241, which Miocic won by finishing Cormier in the fourth round.

And so, here we are. Since then, we’ve been in anticipation of Miocic vs. Cormier III — which is also expected to be Cormier’s retirement bout. But Miocic has had to deal with a major eye injury, and now the coronavirus pandemic has left him without a gym until the end of the month and he’s currently doing his firefighter duties in Ohio.

The division has essentially been put on pause, top contender Francis Ngannou is unhappy, Ngannou’s been calling out the likes of Cormier and Jon Jones, there are calls for Miocic to be removed and numerous names– consisting of Ngannou and current UFC Jacksonville headliners Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris– have stated an interim championship requires to be produced.

So, now what comes next for the UFC heavyweight division? Here are 6 possibilities and the advantages and disadvantages each brings. The first 2 options will be if the UFC goes without an interim title, the second 2 if they do go for an interim title and the final 2 simply unusual, out-of-left-field possibilities.

A Few Of these options will be more practical than others no doubt. In this insane pandemic-filled world, you never ever understand what the UFC and team will pull off.

1. We simply get Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier III

Let’s admit it: as much as the other options are alternate options, this is eventually the battle we need and desire to see. Miocic desires it to take place, Cormier desires it to take place, UFC president Dana White desires it to take place, fans desire it to take place.

It makes best sense to do– both men have won the belt off one another and both have actually ended up the other. Their losses to each other significant simply the second time each male was ended up in the Octagon (technically first for Cormier due to his second loss to Jon Jones being reversed to a no-contest). Both men have actually effectively safeguarded the title and each has actually left his mark on the heavyweight division.

Now, we need to see which of them is the much better male, and it feels like such a proper, big- phase sendoff battle for Cormier if there actually is no trilogy bout with Jones. 2 of the best heavyweights to ever step foot in the Octagon can do fight, settle their score as soon as and for all and either Miocic continues to increase his heavyweight tradition or Cormier heads out a champ.

However, there’s other options on the table in case we do not get this battle …

2. Stipe Miocic is removed of the title (and Daniel Cormier vs. Francis Ngannou is most likely made)

In this circumstance, the UFC eventually chooses it can not linger any more– the logjam in the heavyweight division is simply excessive, they need to put battles on and eventually Miocic is removed of the heavyweight championship due to lack of exercise.

Some might feel that it is the best transfer to do due to the logjam and Miocic’s unidentified battling future– not that he’s going to retire, however in between his eye injury, the logjam and him satisfying firemen tasks in Ohio, the division can’t be held up longer. Others explain it’s an actually bad appearance for the UFC to eventually be removing a first- responder at a time in the world where they’re required, and the UFC doing such is a PR hit.

One might argue that the UFC isn’t fretted about that (consider all the criticisms it has actually gotten in holding occasions throughout the pandemic), however depending upon the timing of the strip, it might likewise come off as hypocritical. The UFC enabled Conor McGregor to hold the featherweight and light-weight titles for a little less than12 and 17 months, respectively, in spite of making no defenses of either title– the latter of which he didn’t even contend in any UFC bouts. It likewise enabled Dominick Cruz to continue his bantamweight title reign in spite of ACL surgical treatments that kept him out of action for all of 2012 and 2013.

Eventually, if this is what the UFC chooses, then the apparent match to make is Cormier vs. Ngannou, as they’re the leading 2 in thedivision Cormier is the former champ-champ and Ngannou has actually rebounded from his frustrating efficiencies versus Miocic and Derrick Lewis with 4 straight first-roundknockouts It would be fascinating to see if Cormier can utilize his wrestling to overwhelm Ngannou as Miocic did, or if Ngannou’s power would be excessive to manage. Either Cormier would once again head out on top (and yet another brand-new strategy for the division would be required), or Ngannou would lastly declare the gold and possibly established a rematch with Miocic.

3. Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou for the interim heavyweight title

The UFC here chooses that it wishes to still do Miocic-Cormier III, however in order to move the division along in the meantime, an interim belt is produced. Clearly, Ngannou– who declares he unsuccessfully campaigned for his UFC 249 bout to be an interim title battle– is the apparent first prospect. the Mixed Martial Arts world got a bit of a swerve this past week in who is interested in dealing with Ngannou, that being none other than Jones, the existing UFC light heavyweight champ.

A transfer to the heavyweight division has actually been a long period of time coming for Jones. He’s controlled the 205- pound division for a variety of years now inside the Octagon, and there have actually been calls for him to attempt his hand at heavyweight and arguments about his possible there. Months back, he even teased that he was intending to match- up with Miocic and challenge him for the heavyweighttitle Even if Jones were to challenge for an interim heavyweight title, it would not be the first time a champ attempted for another weight class’ interim belt (Max Holloway at UFC 236).

Jones has, naturally, remained in the Octagon with some leading skill from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, from Vitor Belfort to Cormier. Would he be able to endure a male who is legitimate one of the hardest-hitting strikers in this game in Ngannou? On the turn, Jones would absolutely be the hardest difficulty of Ngannou’s profession. Ngannou’s remained in the Octagon with first-rate contenders and former champions, however none have the stretch of supremacy that Jones has actually accomplished. Even in the latter phases of his profession, Jones is still an innovative striker efficient in bothering his challengers with his reach, in addition to his grappling and submissions.

The only thing is if you go this path, what is the strategy for the light heavyweight division? The formerly pointed out McGregor circumstance has actually taught us holding up one division for the sake of another isn’t precisely perfect. And while Jones has actually basically cleared out the majority of the light heavyweight division for years now, some still state Dominick Reyes was mistreated at UFC 247 and deserves another fracture at Jones. Jan Blachowicz, who beat Corey Anderson in a competitor’s bout, says he wants nothing less than title fight next.

So, what do you do here if Jones is dealing with Ngannou and relocating to heavyweight? Do you have Reyes and Blachowicz in a final eliminator? Do you face them off for an interim belt? Do you need Jones to protect the light heavyweight title versus one throughout or after his chase for undeniable heavyweight gold and champ-champ status? The light heavyweight division might not be what it as soon as was, however it would not be best to leave more concerns there for the sake of getting the answer at heavyweight.

And White isn’t even sure this battle concerns fulfillment.

4. Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem II for the interim heavyweight title

So let’s state Jones remains down at light heavyweight to protect his title, or he desires hispreviously-talked about 220-pound limit bout Who then could Ngannou face in an interim title battle? Throughout a previous interview FanSided carried out with Harris, he kept in mind the existing heavyweight ranks is top-heavy, filled with fighters who have actually battled one another. Let’s check out a few of these men:

Curtis Blaydes: Blaydes has won 7 of his last 8, and he’s currently on a three-fight win streak. He, nevertheless, has actually suffered 2 losses to Ngannou currently, one by medical professional’s interruption and one by 45-second TKO.Junior dos Santos: Has actually lost 2 straight to Ngannou and Blaydes. We do not need another “fighter getting a title shot off a loss” controversyDerrick Lewis: A popular fighter and a former heavyweight title opposition, however is he actually interim championship- deserving? After his UFC 230 title shot, Lewis was visited JDS, and his decision wins over Blagoy Ivanov and Ilir Latifi– the latter turning up from light heavyweight– state enhanced cardio however do not shriek “title shot worthy.” Likewise, do we ACTUALLY need to see a rematch of among the worst battles in UFC history? Jairzinho Rozenstruik: Was on a big roll however was knocked out in 20 seconds by NgannouAlexander Volkov: Had a big efficiency in a KO win over Fabricio Werdum and was seconds far from beating Derrick Lewis. In his last battle, his first in 13 months, he made simple work of … Greg Hardy.

So, not actually the greatest of cases outside of Blaydes– and you ‘d need to ask yourself if you ‘d wish to see a 3rd Ngannou vs. Blaydes bout for the interim title when Ngannou has 2 TKO wins currently. That leads us to Overeem, the winner of the May 16 UFC Jacksonville main event.

In his last a number of battles, Overeem has actually openedeyes There were times throughout his UFC run where this male’s chin was questioned, and things might have looked grim for another high ranking after his ravaging KO/TKO losses to Ngannou and Blaydes. In his 4 battles given that, he’s revealed he can still take a hard shot and resurgence from the verge of defeat, as he did versus Harris and versus Oleinik. If it wasn’t for a number of fortunate shots Rozenstruik got in previously the final horn in December, Overeem would be on a four-fight win streak, and he still has 3 blockages in his last 3 wins. Which’s a much better current efficiency list than a few of the men ranked greater than him heading into UFCJacksonville

Now, lots of are calling for Overeem to deal with Lewis, which is an original match in itself and can go a method in shaking up the competitors’ image. If this is the case, then you need to have either the Miocic-Cormier trilogy bout with Ngannou right away next in line, or you need to go with Cormier vs. Ngannou. Regardless, Overeem vs. Lewis sounds enjoyable, however for it to genuinely work, you need the division moving on.

While Ngannou vs. Overeem isn’t precisely an original match, you ‘d have a fantastic story heading into it in Overeem attempting to avenge his KO loss at UFC 218– among the biggest knockouts in UFC history.

Overeem likewise has extremely just recently stated he prepares to combat out his last four UFC bouts prior to hanging it up for excellent. That might harm his opportunities for an interim title shot when compared to the possible Jones battle, however thinking about the UFC is providing Cormier a title shot in his last battle, offered Dan Henderson a title shot in his, and offered title shots to the likes of Cruz, McGregor, Georges St Pierre Ronda Rousey after long layoffs, when has a long layoff of retirement stopped them?

5. Daniel Cormier vs. Francis Ngannou for the interim heavyweight title * (* if DC can be persuaded to hold back retirement even longer)

There are 2 expressions including retirement in Mixed Martial Arts. One is White’s pronouncement of “If the ‘R’ word ever steps into your head, you should absolutely retire.” The other is that retirement (and retirement strategies in this circumstance) do not last permanently.

As pointed out, Cormier and Ngannou have actually teased they’re both happy to battle each other, and it’s probably the battle that is made if the UFC chooses to make if they choose removing Miocic of thebelt An interim championship simply appears totally out of the concept due to Cormier’s pending retirement. Does that suggest it’s 100 percent difficult? Not always, an interim title battle can be done … however this would suggest persuading Cormier to do something he’s currently done prior to: hold back on retirement strategies. Which’S where this gets unlikely and difficult.

Cormier has actually formerly discussed a desire to retire at the age of40 He turned that age in March 2019 while he was still UFC heavyweight champ, however he held back the retirement in the hopes of getting the Lesnarmatch That never ever taken place, and he offered Miocic his rematch in the hopes he can retire on the top with another effective titledefense Obviously, that didn’t take place.

Now, at the age of 41, and over a year given that his targeted retirement date (possibly closer to a year-and-a-half by the time his retirement battle takes place), Cormier is chasing after one last chance to head out on the top and show he is the much better heavyweight fighter. And with him currently postponing retirement not as soon as however two times (one might state a 3rd time due to the long haul and coronavirus pandemic), it’s extremely uncertain Cormier would hold back retirement yet one more time simply to do another battle. The next battle is going to be his last, and it’s going to be for the championship– either versus Miocic or Ngannou.

Unless …

6 Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier III (and possibly have Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou II or Curtis Blaydes)

Of all the possibilities on this list, this is possibly the most unlikely– more than another Cormier retirement hold-up. If this in some way taken place, there’s a chance whatever pay-per-view this battle tops might capture 800,000+ purchases like the other 2 battles.

Jones vs. Cormier lacks a doubt among the most extreme fights ever seen in UFChistory A trilogy bout is one fans demanded for in 2015. And there are a number of options on how you can do this battle.

You can have Cormier fall to 205 one last time and have another light heavyweight title battle. This can be that 220- pound that Jones desires– and even much better, this can be Jones’ heavyweight debut (an “I came to your world, now you come to mine” circumstance). Heck, you can even take among the Cormier vs. Ngannou circumstances and simply put Jones in Ngannou’s location. Versatile options, however will this as soon as long-awaited trilogy bout really take place? Do not depend on it.

When reports developed of this battle in 2015, they appeared stopped by their weight classes– Jones desired it at 205, whereas Cormier desired a heavyweight battle. This would be an intriguing heavyweight debut for Jones, however, once again does he really wish to battle DC for a 3rd time and above 205? And if that response is yes, while this battle can likely offer as a non-title pay-per-view main event, will Cormier break the strategy of his last battle being a title battle? Or do they remove Miocic, put the heavyweight title on the line in Jones-Cormier III– and after that either Miocic and Ngannou rematch for an uninhabited title in a Cormier upset, or your back in “Conundrum Land” with a Jones win and Miocic and Ngannou both requiring the first fracture while Jones likewise handles the light heavyweight division.

Another pro here is that if Jones-Cormier III in some way, someway did take place, you have an even larger story in their enduring competition. As Jones rested on the sidelines in suspensions, Cormier took over the light heavyweight division and ended up being a champ-champ. The story here can be Jones, in order to extend his own tradition as one of the biggest in this sport, requires to go up to his archnemesis’ natural weight class and beat him one last time there.

A 3rd Jones-Cormier battle would be big, no doubt. There are too lots of variables and too much dispute to see this really goes down.

The UFC’s heavyweight division remains in the greatest state of flux and confusion it’s remained in a while. We have a champ whose instant battle future is unidentified, a No. 1 competitor and former champ who is all set to quote the sport goodbye, a minimum of one extremely annoyed opposition and a wild card in another division’s champ who’s all set to extend his tradition at the possible expenditure of aggravation in another division.

Needless to state, there are a great deal of possibilities, there might be backup strategies and there are a lot of competitors in a top-heavydivision Possibly, simply possibly, all of this shows is we need to see Miocic vs. Cormier III– for their sake, for the UFC’s sake, for the fans’ sake. And anything less is a dissatisfaction.

Next: Ranking each weight class in Mixed Martial Arts from the worst to the best

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