MMA HW Breakdown

1- Cain Velasquez (9-0) Brilliant fighter. Nice speed, clean boxing, excellent wrestling and shows a great ability to get back to his feet and recover from getting rocked by big punches, non stop cardio and above all: fights smart. Has the ability to fight a HW fight with a relentless pace only seen from prime Fedor and that alone can get him some wins. He has impressed, but there are still questions about him due to his somewhat limited body of work. He's the top ranked guy, but I didn't like what I saw against Kongo. Cain was too hitable and his GnP looked anything but devastating (200+ punches landed against Rothwell and Kongo and limited damage). I feel that the best chance to beat him is a one hitter striker with great scrambles and an urgency to finish such as JDS or Overeem.

2- Junior dos Santos (12-1)- Fantastic boxing for MMA--tops in the division. What happens when he's put on his back is a huge unanswered question that can determine his career trajectory. Biggest threat to him is a great takedown and top control guy like Cain, Brock, Cormier, Barnett. Junior has also shown that he will slow considerably as the fight wears on. This favors guys with great gas tanks like Cain. Overeem-JDS is obviously a dream match for fans and while Overeem looks to be the more impressive fighter; JDS has done it against highly ranked competition.

3- Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1)- Can beat anyone on the ground if he can get it there. The problem is getting there. His striking is adaquete, but he's vulnerable on the feet and doesn't always come into the fight in shape. Biggest threats to Werdum are strikers with strong TDD like Shane, Cain, Sergei, Arlovski...even the shell of Cro Cop could cause issues. He's borderline one dimensional, but that dimension is out of this world.

4-Alistair Overeem (34-11, 1 NC)- He looks the part and would be insanely marketable as the face of the division. His power and striking are next level, he can hit guillotines beautifully, but I will not ignore his past losses and deem the Reem unbeatable. He can be submitted and wilts when a fight doesn't go his way. Biggest threats are Werdum, Barnett, Mir, Cain for their ground abilities and JDS for his power striking. He can KO any and all HWs a number of different ways if they fight his fight. Until he beats top flight guys, you have to assume that he's a bulked up version of his LHW self.

5-Antonio Silva (16-2) Solid gatekeeper with a well rounded skillset. Can do everything well including using his size. He's too slow and awkward to trouble the top athletes in the division, but he’s durable enough to give anyone a hard night.

6-Brock Lesnar (5-2) - I'm not sure how good or bad Brock really is. He obviously has an aversion to getting hit and his pacing due to inexperience causes him to slow down due to burning out. Any power striker or guy with a good guard game has a good shot at beating him, but Brock will put any HW on their back if he wants to. I feel that he was better as a raw striker as opposed to working his boxing with Peter Welch. He's a coin flip with any top 10 guy. He looked great in the opeining 2 minutes of the Cain fight: landed lots of strikes and secured 2 takedowns, but quickly gasses when he got up from Cain’s TD and the wheels came off. He’s the biggest star in the game and will get big opportunities as long as his health is good and he wants to keep doing it. I believe that he will retire with fewer than 10 total MMA fights.

7-Fedor Emelianenko (31-3, 1 NC) – The Fedor ship has sailed. He’s no longer the well rounded, relentless, fast HW who uses his wild punches to set up clinches to trips and follows with brutal GnP. Fedor is still dangerous to anyone, but he’s primarily an undersized boxer now. He has a few more money fights left in him, but he won’t be the top dog any longer. His 30 fight run makes him the undisputed best in the short history of the sport, but Fedor 2011 isn’t the guy who fought in Rings and Pride. His physicality and calculated wildness have gone by the wayside.

8-Frank Mir (15-5) The BJ Penn of HW’s. When fit and motivated, he’s a nightmare for anyone, but he sometimes shows up in bad condition with the worst gameplans imaginable, is too easy to hit and his flghts slow to a halt as the rounds go on. His striking has improved, but is it at the expense of the explosive subs that brought him to the dance?

9-Sergei Kharinatonov (18-4) Sergei is Frank Mir, the striker. If he’s fit and motivated then he can clown people. He’s beaten some of the best strikers at HW and has subbed plenty of guys too. If he comes in without excess bodyfat and good cardio, he has the skills to be the winner of the SF GP.


10-Shane Carwin (12-1) Similar situation to Bigfoot, but with more power and less BJJ. He looked like he had no answers for JDS in their fight and the loss of size will cause him to be less effective. Any top guy who fights him smart should be able to beat him.


Roy Nelson (15-7) Talented guy who looked like a punching bag in his last 2 fights. Need a couple of easy wins and better conditioning to matter.


Travis Browne- (11-0-1) Huge guy with big power, but can look a bit sloppy at times. The win over Struve should move him up the ladder. Very fan friendly style, but when he gets in there with someone more technical, he’s probably in for a long night.



Josh Barnett- (29-5) Hasn’t had a big win in 5 years. The Josh that beat Nog the first time could be the best HW in the world and the guy who struggled with Yvel could be a fight away from being cut from the roster. The Rogers fight will tell us nothing, he’ll win that like he did against Hunt. Josh is the great unknown; either the very best in the sport or a guy who was good a long time ago. Strikers with great TDD will give him all sorts of problems.


Daniel Cormier (7-0) Small for a HW, but has the wrestling credentials to negate that. We haven’t really seen him tested yet. Comes from a great camp and could be a future contender.


Dave Herman (22-2) This guy is going to be a star in the division. Doesn’t always fight the smartest, but it makes for more fan friendly fights. He’s already experienced enough to get a name brand opponent next. If his training and strategy matched his physical abilities, he’d be top 10 and still might be.


Brendan Schaub (8-1) Has some nice wins over guys on the decline (Cro Cop, Gonzaga) has solid striking, power and athleticism, but I can’t get the Nelson KO out of my head.