For December 10th’s UFC 140, the UFC has announced a rematch between former champions Frank Mir and Antonio Noguiera. Combined with the return of Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar in November and December respectively, this points to a renewed emphasis on the heavyweight division.
Another big x-factor in the division is the finals of the Strikeforce tournament. The semifinals this weekend, scheduled for Cinncinnati, feature Josh Barnett versus Sergei Kharitonov and Daniel Cormier versus Bigfoot Silva. As I pointed out in a previous blog, the finals really needs to be shifted under the UFC flag, and it would give them four premiere heavyweight bouts before the end of the year.
Let’s get back to Mir and Big Nog. A few months ago, most observers would have declared both shot, and that neither was capable of winning the UFC title again. Now I’m not so sure.
Look I love Cain Velasquez, I have been watching him since the start of his career. At AKA, one of the highly respected trainers there, ‘Crazy’ Bob Cook told me he’d be a champion and clearly he was right.
But let’s not forget that Cain still only has nine fights. There is a chasm of experience difference between guys like Mir and Noguiera and Cain that can still be exploited. Both are dangerous to Velasquez should they get to a title fight.
Clearly the UFC will move Lesnar into the title fight first if he wins his match against Alistair Overeem, and Overeem is likely higher on the pecking order than Mir or Noguiera. Now I’m of the opinion neither presents as much of a threat to Velasquez as Mir or Nogueira.
If a focused and correct minded Frank Mir shows up, I think he wins the fight with Noguiera. He is bigger, stronger and his technique is right there with Big Nog’s. But if Noguiera is able to avoid taking punishment, his technique can take anyone out, including Mir. That is both in boxing and on the ground. So this bout is going to depend on Mir’s focus and readiness, in my opinion.
Then the UFC really needs to pit the winner of this bout against the winner of Lesnar and Overeem, and let the loser of Velasquez and Dos Santos tangle with the winner of Barnett and Bigfoot. Then make a massive heavyweight fight from the top performer in those skirmishes against the titleholder.
Whatever happens, it is clear the UFC’s heavyweight division is once again showing a pulse, and that is good for the sport.