The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
For the past decade, MMA's heavyweight division has been fragmented with the division's top 15 heavyweights fighting for different promotions. Lack of cross-promoting between organizations prevented the matchups fans wanted to see from ever occurring.
Fans simply want to see the best heavyweights fight each other.
The UFC's heavyweight division played second fiddle to that of Japanese promotor PRIDE for years. The UFC's purchase of PRIDE in 2007 was supposed to usher in a time where these heavyweights could finally go head-to-head. That never materialized.
Some of PRIDE's best heavyweight such as then number one heavyweight, Fedor Emelianenko, did not sign with the UFC. Other promotions such as DREAM,
Affliction, and Strikeforce swooped in and signed top heavyweights.
Furthermore, Affliction pilfered the UFC's heavyweights by signing the likes of Andre Arlovski and Tim Sylvia.
After Affliction's bold moves, Strikeforce signed a who's who of top heavyweights creating a Grand Prix tournament.
The grandest stage of combat sports' highest profile division was not in the Octagon; it was in the rings of these separate promotions. Fans still were not able to see the bouts they wanted.
Over the past few years, DREAM has floundered and Affliction has crumbled under the heavy weight of signing heavyweight star fighter contracts. Strikeforce was even purchased by the UFC about one year ago.
With competitors gone and Strikeforce's heavyweight fighters now under UFC ownership, fans will now be able to see all the pairings they want to see. May represents a month MMA will finally start to see order in such a fragmented MMA division.
The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament concludes on May 19 with the two finalists of the eight-man tournament fighting each other for that title. The bout between UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett and Lafayette, La., native Daniel Cormier will determine the king of Strikeforce's heavyweight division.
The following weekend the UFC will hold UFC 146 that has an unprecedented all heavyweight main card. That's five bouts to be televised on pay per view – all heavyweights.
In the main event, Junior dos Santos will be fighting to defend his UFC
heavyweight title against Frank Mir. The co-main event will feature former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez versus former Strikeforce standout Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
These two weekends will represent all the heavyweight pieces finally coming together on the same table. The winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix will be able to fight in the UFC if that's what the UFC chooses. The UFC now controls the matchups and fans will benefit. Fans should stay tuned for a big month in MMA's biggest division.
David Estrada Jr. is a Mixed Martial Arts columnist for the Port Arthur News . He can be e-mailed at DavidEstrada@DavidEstrada.com