March 14, 2019

UFC: Heavyweight Contenders Shouldn't Have To Wait Around For Brock Lesnar

By Adam Martin

Back at UFC 226 last July, Daniel Cormier, then UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, became a rare UFC double champion when he shocked the world with a vicious first-round knockout win over Stipe Miocic to claim the UFC heavyweight title. Immediately after winning the belt, Cormier did a post-fight interview with UFC analyst Joe Rogan and called out Brock Lesnar for a superfight.

Lesnar, who was in attendance that night, entered the Octagon and the two jawed at each other, setting up a future big-money heavyweight title fight in the process. Fans and media collectively salivated at the possibility of a DC vs. Lesnar matchup, and UFC President Dana White confirmed this was the next bout the UFC was working on. Nearly a year later, though, we have no news on this fight, and whenever White is asked by reporters about it, he says he hasn't talked to Lesnar in months.


So instead of fighting Lesnar (who apparently doesn't answer his phone) for his first title defense, Cormier took on Derrick Lewis in a short-notice matchup at UFC 230 to salvage the card, finishing Lewis by second-round submission. Cormier now remains sidelined with injury, having not fought since, while Cormier's rival Jon Jones returned from his USADA suspension to face and defeat Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232. The newly-minted UFC Light Heavyweight Champion then beat Anthony Smith at UFC 235 in a five-round decision. With at least one new contender chomping at the bit for a shot at Jones, the light heavyweight division has moved on.

The heavyweight division has also moved on in its own way, as heavyweight contenders have emerged in the four months since the Lewis win, with at least two standing out as legitimate challengers for Cormier's belt. First, Francis Ngannou got back to his winning ways with a knockout win over Curtis Blaydes and then a second knockout win over Cormier's teammate Cain Velasquez. Another one of Velasquez' ex-rivals, Junior dos Santos, is also on a hot streak, knocking out Tai Tuivasa and then Lewis this past weekend to re-emerge as a top contender for the heavyweight title. Both Ngannou and JDS are deserving of title shots, and both have called out DC for a crack at his belt, but the heavyweight champ is still clinging to the possibility of a Lesnar fight.


It's easy to see why DC wants to fight Lesnar. After all, Lesnar is by far the biggest pay-per-view draw that DC could fight, and considering the champ is nearing the end of his career, it's understandable that he would want to end his career with a big-money superfight. However, it's been nearly a year since DC and Lesnar initially wanted to fight, and we've had absolutely no news since then about Lesnar leaving WWE to return to the UFC. It seems unfair to fighters like Ngannou and JDS who are actually grinding in the Octagon and winning fights to sit around and wait for Lesnar -- a man who hasn't officially won a fight since 2010 and who tested positive for a banned substance the last time we saw him compete, against Mark Hunt at UFC 200.

At this point, the heavyweight division needs to really move on. JDS and Ngannou are more than deserving of fights against DC for the belt, and while neither man is as big of a money opponent as Lesnar would be, at least they are winning fights and actively competing inside the Octagon. Heavyweight contenders shouldn't have to sit around and wait for Lesnar to figure out if he actually wants to fight in MMA anymore, and if the sport is actually taking drug testing seriously then they wouldn't reward a guy who tested positive for banned substances, especially someone who hasn't made up his mind as to whether or not he actually wants to compete. The division has to keep rolling, and JDS or Ngannou should be next in line.


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