UFC’s Heavyweight Division: Old, Beaten Up and Aching for Young Blood

January 1, 2016

You know if you just walked out of prison today after a decade in the slammer, the world would look at lot different. Millennials find love on Tinder instead of speed dating. People vape instead of smoke. They ride Uber instead of calling taxis. They waste countless hours on smart phones instead of reading books.

And then you’d watch UFC 195 and be like, wow, Andrei Arlovski is still on top in the UFC? Those Pride Fighting Championship guys, Fabricio Werdum and Alistair Overeem, are in the UFC and Werdum is champion? Yep, as we enter 2016, the UFC’s heavyweight division feels a little retro, about as cool as if you threw in the Now That’s What I Call Music!, Volume 60 into your CD player en route to the mall with your girlfriend. Anyone down for some Nelly?

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The UFC needs some new blood. Its Top 10 is full of aging fighters, with not a lot of victories, and a whole lot of losses. You know how many fights Mike Tyson had before he won the heavyweight championship of the world at 20 years old? He was 28-0. TWENTY-EIGHT-AND-OH! OK, you think maybe Tyson is an outlier? What about that guy Tyson (no relation) Fury who just won the heavyweight championship of the world? He was 25-0 before upsetting Wladimir Klitschko.

I doubt Cain Velasquez will every accumulate 25 wins in his entire career. At his pace of fighting,  if he does, it won’t happen until 2028, which should be just in time for the UFC’s debut in Madison Square Garden.

Let’s take a look at the UFC and boxing heavyweight divisions by the numbers:

– UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum: 38 years old. Record: 20-5-1.

– Lineal World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Tyson Fury: 27 years old. Record: 25-0.

Let’s take a broader view:

– The average age of the UFC’s top 10 heavyweight division, including champion Werdum, is 35 years old.

– The average age of Ring Magazine’s Top 10 heavyweight boxers, including Fury, is 33 years old.

That’s not a huge gap, but the boxers are younger. Now let’s take a look at their records.

– In the UFC, those same 11 fighters have won a combined 223 fights.

– Ring Magazine’s Top 11 boxers have won a combined 313 fights.

– UFC’s Top 11 have lost a combined 71 fights. Boxings Top 11 have lost 12 fights. TWELVE FIGHTS.

So somehow, the UFC’s heavyweight division is older, but less experienced and has lost more fights than boxing’s Top 11.

The UFC’s oldest fighter is Mark Hunt at 41 years old. Although he is regarded as a hard-hitting legend, he boasts the unimpressive record of 11 wins and 10 losses. Remember boxing’s hard-hitting equivalent from a decade ago, Butterbean? He also had 10 losses — and 77 wins.

Boxing’s oldest heavyweight is Wladimir Klitschko. He is 39 years old with a record of 64-4. You want to know what would happen if you put Klitschko in the cage or ring with Hunt? It wouldn’t be pretty.

Boxing’s youngest heavyweight is not Fury, but Anthony Joshua, at 26 years old. He has a record an undefeated record of 15-0. Do you know who the UFC’s youngest heavyweight is? Junior dos Santos. Yep, Junior dos Santos. He is 31 years old and has a record of 17-4.

Somehow the UFC needs to figure out a way to bring in new talent not named Brock Lesnar to liven up the heavyweight division. Where are all the heavyweight prospects? Are you telling me that Overeem, Hunt, Arlovksi, Josh Barnett and Frank Mir are the best MMA heavyweights in the world? Can someone give Brett Rogers a call? Arlovski wants to avenge his 22-second knockout.

And you doubt that Fedor Emelianenko would do well in the UFC’s heavyweight division?

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The UFC can throw all its marketing eggs into two baskets — Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey — but it’s leaving millions of dollars on the table by not finding and recruiting the best heavyweight MMA fighters in the world. The UFC’s current crop of stars are legends, but it’s time for a change. Hell, as it stands right now, Jon Jones could move to heavyweight and probably be champion within a year. He’s only 28 years old.

We are all happy that the UFC exists, but the UFC should be searching for the Cam Newtons of the MMA world, not the Tony Romos.

Follow Joshua Molina on Twitter: @JECMolina

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