The UFC Heavyweight division is booming…as it always has. Since Mark Coleman was crowned as the inaugural champion in 1997.
Fans love the Heavyweights, because fans love the brutality of MMA. Heavyweight fighters guarantee it — at least for the most part.
Violence is in a fighter’s DNA, expressed in the art form they know best, and if you can’t appreciate that, then maybe you’re not a fan of Mixed Martial Arts.
Here are the five Heavyweight contenders that understand their jobs as entertainers, and usually leave the fans wanting more whenever they step into the octagon:
10. Matt Mitrione
The fact that ranking Matt Mitrione at number 10 is justifiable proves how deep and exciting the Heavyweight division.
Mitrione only has ten fights, but is a known thriller amongst MMA fans, with six wins by knockout. He’s coming off of a first round KO over Shawn Jordan, a “Performance of the Night” winner.
9. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
This Brazilian is often overlooked, but he won’t be for long.
He made his UFC debut in May, and scored a 20-second knockout over one of the runner-ups for this list, Richardson Moreira.
Rogerio de Lima has a 75% knockout-to-win ratio, but this is against soft opposition, with Moreira being the only true exception.
8. Shawn Jordan
This was a tough gap to fill, and I hate to do it with a guy who has failed to succeed at the highest level, like Shawn Jordan, but who doesn’t love to watch a guy who either stops his opponents, or goes down swinging on his own?
This is about excitement, after all, and Jordan offers just that.
7. Ben Rothwell
Ben Rothwell isn’t afraid of anyone. He repeatedly makes that clear.
He’s 2-2 in his last four fights, but has a seek-and-destroy style against whoever opposes him. For that reason, he is simply a must-see.
6. Alistair Overeem
Overeem’s x-factor may be his uncertainty.
You never know what will happen when you see this guy fight. He is so incredibly talented, but, after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs (welcome to the most exciting weight class in MMA), he hasn’t quite sustained against top opposition.
We’ll see where he lands next.
5. Soa Palelei
Palelei is a BJJ Black Belt, and is working on becoming more of a fine-tuned mixed martial artist.
“The Hulk” lives up to his moniker, and has won eleven straight… by knockout! He has won all three of his UFC fights and is honing in on the top of the Heavyweight division.
4. Cain Velasquez
The UFC Heavyweight champion follows the trend of Mexican and Mexican-American fighters. He lays it all on the line in each fight.
Velasquez’s striking is deadly, but his ground game, particularly, his fierce “ground-n’-pound”, is what draws the attention of fans worldwide. It’s the same thing that led him to wins over Junior Does Santos and Brock Lesnar.
3. Antonio Silva
“Big Foot” Silva was probably made fun of as a schoolboy, but no one messes with this lumbering beast now.
Silva’s physical strength looks like something from science fiction, but he has enough limitations that he rarely catches a break, or an easy night. Still, you’ll see him on TV, and when he’s on point, the behemoth is a must see MMA fighter.
2. Roy Nelson
Are you surprised?
Are you really surprised to see “Big Country” land on this list?
Nelson has a beard, a beer belly, and morbid conditioning, yet is gifted with freakish power. The only downside is when he is overmatched, he isn’t the most exciting to watch when getting manhandled.
Still, how can you not love this all-American puncher?
1. Mark Hunt
Hunt is like Roy Nelson in so many ways. He is “big boned” at 5’10, 260lbs+, to be sensitive to Mark Hunt’s feelings.
I forget that Hunt likes to knock grown men senseless. In that case, he could lose a few pounds, but don’t fret, we love you just the way you are, Mark Hunt.
A former kick boxer, Hunt puts it all on the line everything he steps inside the cage. In his last fight, he was in one of the most memorable Heavyweight battles of all time against the man who ranks # 4 on this list, Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, and settled for a draw.