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By: Brad Walker, MMATorch Columnist
It can be said that we have entered a new age of champion in the sport of mixed martial arts, the age of the dominant champion. Six of the eight weight classes in the UFC have champions who have successfully defended their belts, and they have done so in dominating fashion. Prior to this we have seen some champions come and go without a single defense, but now it seems the times have changed. Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Junior dos Santos, Jose Aldo, and Dominick Cruz, are these the champions who cannot be beat? Let's take a look at each one and the possibilities that lay ahead of them on their path.
Junior dos Santos - UFC HW Champion (15-1 with 1 Successful Defense)
JDS will relentlessly punch you in the face until you fall over unconscious, and if that doesn't work he's going to make you bleed until the fight ends. He has run through the entire division with one fluke loss early in his career, but no matter who the UFC has thrown in front of him he has just picked up steam. He has defeated the best of the best so far, and will continue to fight the top tier guys, and will probably run straight through them without so much as a moment of hesitation. Can he be defeated? has become the question to answer; he's not even into his 30's and the man has so much room to grow. However, his future opponents do as well.
Cain Velasquez will test dos Santos again in December, wanting to regain his title, though it remains to be seen whether or not Cain will stand in front of JDS again and get knocked silly. Alistair Overeem is probably next in line after Cain, as long as his urine doesn't come out with muscle fibers already growing, but Overeem has a questionable chin and almost always has. After that we don't have many big challengers for him; Daniel Cormier would make for one hell of a scrap, but we are yet to see him face a striker of dos Santos' capabilities. Shane Carwin could theoretically work himself into a rematch if he comes back at full health, but only time will tell if his back is going to be a future problem. Lastly, Jon Jones moving up to heavyweight could be a hell of a scrap – but I highly doubt that Jones is going to move from his throne in the LHW division.
Likelihood of Dos Santos Being Beaten: Decent Best Chance: Alistair Overeem
Jon "Bones" Jones – UFC LHW Champion (16-1 with 3 Successful Title Defenses)
Can Jonny Bones be stopped? It is a question that has been lurking in the minds of fans and writers alike since the day he stepped in and demolished Shogun Rua. After tearing through Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans, very few viable challenger lay before him in the division – but do any of them stand a chance of defeating the young champ? The honest answer is probably not, but stranger things have happened – like the fall of the Ice Man. Let's look at his potential future challengers. First on the list is Vitor Belfort, a former champion himself with quick and powerful hands, Vitor may be able to stand and strike with Jones, but will likely wind up on his back and fall victim to a submission. Dan Henderson is also an awaiting challenger, but recovering from something like an MCL injury is not easy especially at his age, but I do stand by the fact that the H-Bomb may be the only weapon capable of stopping Jones. Chael Sonnen also comes to mind as a potential future suitor; I doubt Sonnen will do much against the much larger, and more powerful Jones, however I don't doubt that he will at the very least make it a fight. Glover Teixeira will likely wiggle his way into contender ship during the next year or so – his heavy hands and well-rounded game will make him a very viable opponent - but who knows how that will come out for him. Last but not least is Mr. Alexander Gustaffson, who possesses the length and power to throw Jones off of his game, but with his submission loss to Phil Davis I expect Jones would take him down and submit him in quick fashion.
Likelihood of Jones Being Beaten: Reasonable Best Chance: Tie between Dan Henderson and Glover Teixeira
Anderson Silva - UFC MW Champion (32-4 with 10 Successful Defenses)
The best pound for pound fighter in the world, he has defeated literally every fighter the UFC has been able to put in the cage against him. He has no holes in his game, he doesn't tolerate trash talk, and he comes in ready to finish every single fight. The man is a monster of such terrible reign that his division is full of "hopeful contenders" rather than viable opponents. Silva can submit you, knock you out, or just flat out take points and walk away from the fight with an easy decision. Luckily for us as fans we get to see him go for the kill nearly every time, which really keeps his title reign entertaining to the fullest extent.
There aren't really more than a couple of contenders right now for Silva to possibly face. Chris Weidman has his name in the hat, but as much as he believes he's a dangerous matchup for the Spider, I don't believe there is such thing as "dangerous" in Anderson Silva's world. Vitor Belfort could earn his way back to the top with a strong showing against Jon Jones, and as far as I'm concerned has the best chance of defeating him. Chael Sonnen has bailed out of the division leaving somewhat of a gap at the top for either Michael Bisping or Brian Stann to fill, however neither of them would be very likely to defeat Silva. For any other opponents we'd have to look at Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold and let's face it, that fight won't be happening anytime soon.
Likelihood of Silva Being Beaten: Slim to None Best Chance: Vitor Belfort
Georges St Pierre – UFC WW Champion (22-2 with 6 Successful Defenses)
A man who has played second fiddle in the p4p rankings since the explosion of Anderson Silva, GSP is still at least the second most established champion in the UFC. He has defeated a string of opponents in easy fashion, only having lost maybe 3-4 rounds the entire time. He is the man who has changed the 170 pounds division into a battleground worthy of the days of gladiators; however, the men shedding their blood are probably doing it in vain. Coming back from his injury could be a tough road, and time will tell us if we will get the same GSP we had before. Also, although he has claimed to have re-found his love for the sport, we don't know exactly what that means. Can the real GSP remain the champion in the UFC of today? His next bout is to unify the belts against Carlos Condit, a man I fully expect GSP to run straight through as if he was a wet paper bag. After that we have Johny Hendricks, because let's face it Kampmann will choke and get KO'd quickly. Hendricks can give GSP trouble on his feet, but once GSP takes him down, the fight is basically over. A returning Nate Marquardt at 170 pounds could be a problem for the champ, but again GSP would prevail in a long five round snooze fest if that were to come to fruition.
Likelihood of GSP Being Beaten: Abysmal Best Chance: Nick Diaz (yeah, I said it)
Jose Aldo – UFC FW Champion (21-1 with 5 Successful Defenses)
Aldo is the smallest version of Anderson Silva that could ever be imagined, and his all-around ability makes him downright scary. He has torn through each UFC opponent thus far and his one career loss stinks of a fluke submission. Aldo is going to be facing a tough series of fighters in his division, which thickens up each time a lightweight loses. Being the champion was never meant to be easy, but Aldo has made it appear to be a cakewalk. How about those top contenders – who is going to put him to the test?
Eric Koch is the next guy in line, and though I have learned to expect less from Aldo's opponents Koch should give him a good test; but in the end Aldo will come out victorious. Frankie Edgar at 145 pounds could be a serious threat to Aldo's belt – and we all know Edgar will scrap until the very end. Other possible opponents will continue to line up but as far as the UFC goes those are the only two posing a potential threat right now. Let's take a look into Bellator because they hold the only fighter capable of beating Aldo right now – their very own champ Pat Curran. Both men like to stand and bang, and it would just be a matter of who fell over first at the end of the day.
Likelihood of Aldo Being Beaten: Unlikely Best Chance: Pat Curran
Cruz is a very scary man for his size and weight class, and I wouldn't wish anyone the bad luck of standing across the cage from him. He has definitively beaten every challenger thus far, and made most of them look downright foolish. It really doesn't matter right now who is in contention due to Cruz's being sidelined with an injury, but Interim Champ Renan Barao will happily thin out the division. The bout between those two will be a battle of the titans, but for now we have to sit back and wait on another injured champion. I have no doubt that he will return to form and once again dominate, but who is going to be left for him to fight? Michael McDonald comes to mind, with his heavy hands he can be a very scary man to step into the cage with. Renen Barao will likely still be carrying the interim belt with him when Cruz returns, and I suspect we could see the belts unified on a new champion. Outside of those two men anyone else giving him a run for his money is a serious reach. Faber is all but beaten out of the title picture, and Miguel Torres is on his way to a new company. Cruz may have the luckiest division of them all in terms of top 10 opponents, because he can decimate almost every one of them.
Likelihood of Cruz Being Beaten Good Best Chance: Renan Barao
Thanks for reading – be sure to follow me on Twitter @BradMMATorch
[Jon Jones art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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