UFC Heavyweight Rankings Review
With Abu Dhabi and Vancouver in the books, it is time to revisit the UFC Heavyweight Rankings and review how things have shaken up heading into the end of the year. The bottom half of the rankings look to be the most interesting as new blood works their way into the fold. Augusto Sakai is the biggest mover, jumping up three spots to #12 ranking. He leapfrogs veteran Aleksei Oleinik and Oceania’s darling Tai Tuivasa.
Sakai enjoys a 14-1-1 record, with his only Loss and Draw coming from his stumble with Bellator. His Bellator debut he fought Dan Charles to a Majority Draw and then lost a split decision to Cheick Kongo. Sakai bounced back with a first round finish at Imortal FC 7 before receiving his call up to Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2018. He made the most of his opportunity with second round finish over Marco Conrado Jr.
Sakai maintains his perfect UFC record, streaking through Chase Sherman, Andrei Arlovski and now Marcin Tybura. There are plenty of interesting match ups for Sakai at the bottom of the table, but if he Is to continue fighting upwards in the rankings then Blagoy Ivanov (#9) would be the match to make. Ivanov is coming off a decision win over Tuivasa back in June, Sakai is coming off a :59 second finish. Both the Brasilian and Bulgarian could be fresh to fight before the end of the year and would be great additions to the upcoming cards in their native markets in Sao Paolo or Moscow.
The biggest question at the top of the division lays in Daniel Cormier’s next move. He could retire or seek the rubber match with either Stipe Miocic or Jon Jones. If DC moves out of the Heavyweight picture, it is likely that a Miocic could rematch Francis Ngannou.
Curtis Blaydes (#3) has been looking better and better with each fight, but his two losses to Ngannou put him in a tricky spot in the rankings. Blaydes could only conceivably get a shot at Champion Miocic after Ngannou and would likely only get a rubber match with Francis unless the rest of the division is scared to take the fight. Blaydes will likely have to tread water at the top of the division, maintaining his position in the rankings by denying prospects working their way up.
The development we are seeing in Blaydes could change the landscape of the Heavyweight division with him as champion, but his two losses to Ngannou are holding him back. Junior Dos Santos (#4) is booked against Alexander Volkov (#6) and the winner of that would be a fine match up for Blaydes going forward.
As the year ends the Heavyweight division should be settling into a new contender rhythm and with a couple new faces emerging the division is heating up again.