1. Daniel Cormier (21-1)Cormier added to his legacy at UFC 226, where he became only the second simultaneous two-division titleholder in the promotion’s history with a first-round knockout of heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic in the main event. Cormier remains undefeated in the big man’s division, and based on a post-fight confrontation with current World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Brock Lesnar, he could remain at heavyweight for his next title defense.
2. Stipe Miocic (18-3)Heavyweight title reigns are fleeting, even if you have authored the longest such reign in UFC history. That proved to be the case for Miocic, who fell to reigning light heavyweight king Daniel Cormier via first-round knockout in the UFC 226 headliner. The defeat snapped a six-fight winning streak for the Ohio firefighter, who had bested Francis Ngannou, Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem during his stay at the top.
3. Alexander Volkov (30-6)Volkov has a deceptive way of winning fights sometimes, but his methods are undeniably effective. After falling behind early against Fabricio Werdum at UFC Fight Night 127, “Drago” used his superior cardio and striking to prevail with a fourth-round knockout. The 29-year-old Russian has won four straight fights in the UFC and six in a row overall. He will attempt to move closer to a title shot when he locks horns with Derrick Lewis at UFC 229 on Oct. 6.
4. Fabricio Werdum (23-8-1)Werdum was reportedly going to headline the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s debut in Russia against Alexey Oleynik on Sept. 15, but a potential anti-doping violation for a failed out-of-competition drug test appears to have nixed those plans. The 41-year-old Brazilian called it a “misunderstanding” in a social media post shortly thereafter, but “Vai Cavalo” was recently handed a two-year sanction by USADA. Unless he is able to clear his name during an appeal process, Werdum won’t be able to return to UFC competition until his is nearly 43.
5. Derrick Lewis (20-5)Lewis was part of one of the worst bouts in recent memory, but fortunately for him, he ended up in the win column. “The Black Beast” combined with Francis Ngannou to land the second-fewest significant strikes in a three-round fight in UFC history, but the former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder did enough to emerge with a decision victory at UFC 226. While the win over Ngannou does not do much to raise his stock, Lewis remains a top contender in the division and will face Alexander Volkov in a pivotal clash at UFC 229.
6. Francis Ngannou (11-3)Perhaps no fighter’s stock has fallen faster than that of Ngannou, who, after being dominated for five rounds by Stipe Moicic in a January title bout, looked completely gunshy against Derrick Lewis at UFC 226. After beginning his promotional tenure with six consecutive finishes, “The Predator” will have to recapture the killer instinct he showed during that run if he is to return to contention in the heavyweight division. The process begins in a UFC Fight Night 141 rematch with Curtis Blaydes, whom Ngannou defeated via doctor stoppage in April 2016.
7. Curtis Blaydes (10-1)If there was any doubt before, there is none now: Blaydes is a serious threat to the heavyweight division. “Razor” Blaydes followed up a dominant decision win over Mark Hunt at UFC 221 with a bloody and brutal elbow-induced third-round finish of Alistair Overeem at UFC 225. Blaydes has won four fights in a row and will get a chance to avenge his only career defeat when he faces Francis Ngannou at UFC Fight Night 141 on Nov. 24 in Beijing.
8. Alistair Overeem (43-17)Overeem never looked comfortable against Curtis Blaydes, as “The Reem” struggled to defend his adversary’s takedowns before suffering a violent defeat via elbows in their UFC 225 encounter. While Overeem remains one of the division’s most skilled strikers, back-to-back brutal knockout defeats at the hands of Blaydes and Francis Ngannou could signal the end of the Dutchman’s time as a top contender.
9. Junior dos Santos (19-5)Forced into a longer-than-desired absence due to a tainted supplement given to him by a Brazilian compounding pharmacy, dos Santos made a somewhat triumphant return at UFC Fight Night 133, where he earned a five-round decision over former Word Series of Fighting titlist Blagoy Ivanov. Still, the victory was not especially entertaining, as “Cigano” looked far removed from his heavyweight championship heyday. Dos Santos will look to improve upon that showing when he faces prospect Tai Tuivasa at UFC Fight Night 142 on Dec. 1.
10. Alexey Oleynik (57-11-1)Oleynik officially ushered in the UFC’s Russian era with a first-round submission of Mark Hunt in the UFC Fight Night 136 headliner in Moscow. The 41-year-old “Boa Constrictor” is now 6-2 in the Las Vegas-based promotion since his 2014 debut, making him a sneaky contender in a division constantly in need of fresh faces.
Other Contenders: Vitaly Minakov, Mark Hunt, Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione, Tai Tuivasa.
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