Nice looking division right now, with clear levels of power. Stipe, Werdum, Cain, JDS and Overeem are in the top 5 and will not be threatened in the near future. Francis Ngannou is the rising prospect and will face veteran Andrei Arlovski. I might go to a UFC restaurant in NJ to watch that fight, and even though I love Andrei, I hope Ngannou will find his predatory instincts, stop hesitating, and use his speed and boxing to it's full potential to dominate the fight and win with a KO.
In the lower end we have a few prospects as well. Justin Ledet (8-0) the amateur boxer is still an undefeated fighter and will face another undefeated fighter in Dmitry Sosnovskiy (10-0) in February. This will be Sosnovskiy's first real test and UFC debut and seeing as previously he has only fought cans, I predict Ledet will win in a couple of rounds.
Adam Milstead is the second prospect and will butt heads with Curtis Razor Blaydes on the same date as the Ledet fight, best wishes to Adam, hope you win in spectacular fashion my friend.
Ruslan Magomedov is facing a potential doping violation, and the kickboxer without KO power will be out of commission for a while. On the bright side he is only 30. During this time he should be working on his hand speed and KO power.
The last fighter is an untested one, but his natural athletic abilities and physical dominance already has people talking about his debut. at only 29 years old, Bilyal Makhov stands at 6'5 290 lb is the Next Big Thing in the heavyweight division. The Russian Olympic Greco Roman and Freestyle wrestler has shown remarkable striking abilities on his first day (if you can believe it). My advice for him is to start learning boxing in a real boxing gym because MMA striking and muay thai might take a while, and make it his base. Focus on speed, combinations along with explosiveness for an entire year. Then learn BJJ defense and muay thai (for kicks and knees and elbows) and MMA (to be able to mesh the styles together perfectly). If he can transition from Greco-Roman to Freestyle that easily he should be able to pick up boxing at a feverish pace as well and shoot through the division.
To conclude, 5 skilled and talented guys at the top, the rest are a bit behind with 4 prospects and a couple of veterans. Below the top 15 most are not worthy to be talked about but still are powerful enough to hold 8-1 12-2 records outside the UFC. Not journeymen but with 0-2, 2-4 and 3-4 records in the UFC their opponents most likely were, although Mark Godbeer the former top Bellator contender lost his first fight to Ledet and is 0-1, and the former Bellator champ decisioned Tim Johnson. All together, an interesting division where any fight is a must watch.
A pretty top heavy division, but only because of the sheer skill, talent, and experience there. Daniel Cormier was a former two time Olympian and was the captain of the Olympic wrestling team. At 37 his athletic ability is winding down but can still contend with the best.
Anthony Rumble Johnson possesses God given KO power in every limb and is a great wrestler in his own right. But unlike most wrestlers his stand up is phenomenal. Just watch his fight with Phil Davis and his training videos, this man has astonishing flexibility that allows him to throw swift and brutal head kicks. Unlike Luke Rockhold, he has high level boxing as well judging from his instinctive head movement while striking and the angles at which he strikes. Once he realizes all he needs to work on now is his hand speed, in and out striking and combinations, he could potentially beat Jon Jones.
Jon Jones. Anyone who knows MMA should be familiar with him.
Outside the triumvirate we have got Alexander Gustafsson. If you are a boxing fan, get behind this guy. At 16 he won the junior national boxing championship, and later defeated the Swedish heavyweight boxing champ. He was a huge favorite to win in the national boxing championship but then signed with the UFC. The guy put a boxing clinic on Jon Jones and almost won, but Jon adapted. I picked him to win against Rumble but forgot Rumble had something other than boxing, and one head kick marked the end of the fight. Twice Gustafsson was defeated by strikes that boxing has never taught him to defend against, like the spinning elbow and the head kick. To be fair, he has lots of MMA training and against any lesser opponent (meaning any opponent other than those two) he would've dominated, but the set ups and speed the two top contenders used were too much for him.
As for prospects, for now I do not see a single soul who poses any kind of a challenge the four guys up there. Or three guys and one far below. Not Gus, Bones. The good thing is, Gus and Bones are both 30 and 29 respectively, and Rumble is only 32, we have plenty of time to scout for new talent.
Although, watch out for Misha Cirkunov.
Once thought to be one of the best, Chris Weidman shattered that notion with a punch then later on, a kick. This is a division I'd watch purely for entertainment purposes rather than careful analysis.
Bisping is a 37 year old with no remarkable anything who has wilted against every top opponent. Him using his average boxing skills to out-strike a 40 year old Anderson Silva who has never faced a decent striker in his life was maybe his finest moment outside of KO'ing Luke Rockhold, a BJJ based fighter with some nasty kicks but couldn't box for his life. And he is the champ.
The top contender is a 39 year old Olympic wrestler with KO power but unlike Rumble Johnson, Yoel Romero's striking is far from technical. It certainly is enough to beat the current crop of middleweights. Him versus Bisping will be interesting. Both are so far from their prime it reminds of the movie Grudge Match. And yep, a 37 year old middleweight boxer is much worse than a 37 year old light heavyweight wrestler. Wrestlers age better than strikers although Romero is really stretching it a bit. He is a physical specimen who's boost from steroids is still not yet gone from his body.
Then we have Luke Rockhold. Note that when he got KO'ed, Bisping's right hook couldn't have been cleaner. So nope, I don't think his chin is suspect. His boxing though, no amount of training can help him. He just does not have the talent for boxing. This kinda goes for everyone. No matter how much you train, don't bullsh#t yourself. If God didn't gift you with explosive power you can train every day and still can't beat someone like Johnson, Tyson or Foreman. Speed is another gift you just gotta have. Training can help, but if you think it can make up for natural athletic ability you are sorely mistaken. Go with your strengths. For example, strength can translate into wrestling, explosive power is a rare gift for boxing, good physical measurements aids in muay thai, and size means powerful dirty boxing, catch wrestling, and BJJ. If you're a small dude you can try wing chun. Good luck finding a legit instructor though.
Anyways, back on topic. Weidman the All-American has fine technical striking that he can adjust to fight any opponent but as stated above, athleticism is a gift. Romero, steroids or not, as that gift and one mistake on Weidmans part resulted in a flying knee and 2 pints of blood squirting out.
Souza is one of my favorite fighters, I wish him the best of luck, but if he still doesn't get a title shot after beating Tim (obvious), he should consider going to Bellator.
Finally we get to Mousasi. At 31 years old he has already compiled a more than respectable record of 41-6-2 against all sorts of opponents. Even Mark Hunt. When you look at his record though, half his losses were current, and against current UFC fighters like the Gator Souza and the Dragon Machida.
Whittaker didn't display anything worth while in his most recent bout, so that leaves no one.
In conclusion, exciting fighters, but needs a Brock Lesnar to raise the bar.
Welterweight, Lightweight, Featherweight, and Bantamweight
One word describes four weight classes; STACKED. Woodley, Garbrandt, Aldo and McGregor are four champs who are definite championship material. All exciting fighters. Aldo stands at 5'7 and walks around at 170 lbs, hardly a small guy and Cody is an inch taller, at least 160. Not really of much importance to me, but there are people who actually think they stand a chance against the smaller fighters. Nope, you don't. Bantamweight doesn't mean they walk around at 135, more like at least 25 lbs more. Like Dom, who walks around at more than 160. The only UFC fighters most gym going alpha males actually have a slight chance against are the Flyweights.
PS: This is just to let people know where they stand. Most big guys are only interested in Welterweights and above because they actually think they have a chance against guys like McGregor and Aldo. Not because big muscles means fatigue, which it does but only to a certain extent. You have to be Ronnie Coleman sized to even begin making that ridiculous argument. Maybe I should make a blog about that, later.
One dominate champion who only lost twice, and the most recent to Dom. One Olympic gold medalist who lost twice, one to the champ. One guy who beat the gold medalist, yet lost twice as well, both to the champ. And one Japanese dude who lost once, to the champ.
I love this division, it's fun, it's powerful, but at the same time, it's the only division that most people can compare themselves to. If most people can do this.
Here's the shocking part. Most flyweights walk around at 150 (Benavidez) to 155 (Cejudo). Only the champ is at 137. Two of them stand at 5'3. Benavidez is one inch taller. So when the guys over at bodybuilding.com were talking about a 6'0 220 lb giant vs a featherweight MMA fighter (145), they are actually talking about a flyweight. Funny thing is, they know they can't beat a UFC 'featherweight', so they made him a "trained MMA fighter". BUT, depending on the fighters style, they can actually win a few fights.
Oh yeah, there is nothing to say about this division. MM is reigning supreme, and will continue to do so. Only the TUF S24 winner could challenge him. The thing is, that fighter can't cut to flyweight anymore, and will fight at bantamweight now.