What a wild, crazy, unpredictable sport MMA is. A few months ago the heavyweight fight everyone wanted to see was Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar, and MMA fans thought we'd be deprived of having one true heavyweight champion because Fedor and Lesnar would never fight each other.
Now Fedor and Lesnar have both suffered decisive first-round losses, and you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone anywhere who considers either one of them the top heavyweight in the sport.
That distinction now belongs to Cain Velasquez, who at UFC 121 erased any doubt that he's the heavyweight champion of mixed martial arts. You know that Velasquez is No. 1, and you can see how 2-10 stack up below.
(Editor's note: The individual fighter's ranking the last time we did heavyweights are in parentheses.)
Top 10 heavyweights in MMA
1. Cain Velasquez (6): No one had ever won seven consecutive UFC heavyweight fights until Velasquez improved his career record in the Octagon to 7-0 by beating Lesnar. Four of those seven wins are by first-round stoppage, two are by second-round stoppage, and Cheick Kongo, whom Velasquez beat by unanimous decision, gets the distinction of being the only man to go the distance with the champ.
2. Junior dos Santos (3): Dos Santos is 6-0 in the UFC, so he can match Velasquez's record heavyweight winning streak by taking the belt from Velasquez next year. I think dos Santos is a little better in the stand-up than Velasquez, but I'm not sure if dos Santos can handle a wrestler with Velasquez's skill and strength. It should be a great fight.
3. Brock Lesnar (1): What's next for Lesnar? My guess is he'll get a rubber match with Frank Mir, and if he wins that he could easily get another title shot before the year is out. He won't beat either Velasquez or dos Santos without significantly improving in the stand-up department, though.
4. Shane Carwin (2): Carwin gets Roy Nelson on New Year's Day, and if he wins (and I think he will) he's right in the mix of guys who could get a title shot against the Velasquez-dos Santos winner. The heavyweight division isn't particularly deep, so don't be surprised if retreads like Lesnar, Carwin or Mir are next in line after Velasquez and dos Santos settle things.
5. Fabricio Werdum (4): The man who beat Fedor is going to take his sweet old time getting back into the cage as he recovers from elbow surgery.
6. Fedor Emelianenko (5): Speaking of fighters who take their sweet old time getting back into the cage, the latest talk from Strikeforce is that Fedor will return in January. But both of the guys who would make sense as opponents for Fedor, Werdum and Alistair Overeem, will be unavailable.
7. Alistair Overeem (7): He's testing himself in K-1 at the moment, and I'm personally very excited to see how he does in the World Grand Prix Final in December. But it will probably be at least six months before we see Overeem defend his Strikeforce heavyweight title.
8. Frank Mir (8): A third fight with Lesnar is a bad competitive match-up for Mir (I think Lesnar will smash him) but it's a big money fight and an opportunity for Mir to shock everyone, vanquish his chief rival and earn a title shot. So he'd be crazy not to want it.
9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (9): I'd like to think Nogueira still has a big fight or two left in him, although he had to pull out of his planned fight with Mir in September, and there's no word on when he's going to be ready to return to the Octagon. I wouldn't like his chances against any of the Top 4 heavyweights on this list, but I still think Nogueira is a tough opponent for basically anyone else in the sport.
10. Antonio Silva (NR): Did you know that Brett Rogers fought on a small-time show on the same night that Velasquez beat Lesnar? If you didn't, don't feel bad: Hardly anyone saw it. But I've heard from a couple people who did see it, and they say Rogers didn't look particularly impressive in winning a unanimous decision victory over professional tomato can Ruben Villareal.
As a result, I'm dropping Rogers down a spot and giving the No. 10 heavyweight position to Antonio Silva. I can't for the life of me figure out why Strikeforce hasn't booked Silva vs. Rogers, which would be an obvious next fight for both of them. Instead, we have Rogers vs. Villareal and Silva vs. Valentijn Overeem in December. Villareal and Overeem have a combined record of 46-44-3, and it's a waste of time for guys like Rogers and Silva to fight them.