The heavyweight rankings stay mostly the same for September, with the notable addition of one new face. Daniel Cormier‘s brutal knockout of Antonio Silva vaults him into the top ten for the first time; with the kind of improvement he’s showing from fight to fight, Cormier could be a mainstay on these rankings for years to come.
Velasquez will finally return to the cage in November, and he’s doing it on the biggest stage in UFC history: prime time on the first-ever UFC on Fox event. It’s a sweet chance for Velasquez to reach the biggest audience possible, to cement himself as the best heavyweight in the sport and become a true drawing card for the UFC. He’s got a tough opponent, though.
Dos Santos serves as the other half of the Fox equation, and his bout with Velasquez is incredibly important for the promotion. It might be the most important bout in UFC history. Dos Santos – and Velasquez, for that matter – should be able to deliver an exciting fight, and he’ll go in with every chance of walking away as the UFC heavyweight champion.
Overeem’s had quite the month, hasn’t he? He pulls out of the Strikeforce grand prix due to injury. He gets released by the UFC. A month later, he signs a new contract with the UFC and starts preparation to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 in December. Things are looking up for the former Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
4. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar makes his long-awaited return to the cage against Overeem at the tail end of December. Questions about his motivation for fighting continue to exist, and the surgery that saw 12 inches of his intestines removed will only serve to create even more questions. But Lesnar’s willingness to fight the best cannot be denied, and he’ll face one of the toughest challenges of his career in Overeem.
With Strikeforce seemingly knocking on death’s door, Werdum finds himself in a kind of promotional limbo. He has no fights on the horizon and no invite back to the UFC just yet, although one would expect that to happen by the middle of 2012.