The UFC heavyweight division is one of the most destructive and unpredictable weight classes in the promotion. From the pure power of Francis Ngannou to the tight submissions of Alexey Oleinik, the division has it all.
It’s also always boasted one of the highest average roster ages. Whilst most divisions see a younger peak, the heavyweight division is notoriously unique for having fighters excel into their late thirties and early forties. Even at the age of 43, Oleinik won two fights last year.
UFC heavyweight future stars:
Heavyweights have the chance to enter the division at an older age and still be classed as prospects or future stars.
For the purpose of this particular piece, I've selected fighters from the pool of under-30's in the division. For that reason, the likes of Chris Daukaus and Alexander Romanov miss out, however, they remain top prospects.
With that in mind, here are five future stars in the UFC heavyweight division.
#5 Tanner Boser
Tanner Boser is one of the most exciting prospects in the UFC heavyweight division. Consecutive wins last summer announced him as a heavyweight to watch. His potential is high.
However, the two knockout victories over Brazilians Philipe Lins and Raphael Pessoa were followed by a disappointing loss to former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in what was a close fight across all three rounds.
In the context of his division, "The Bulldozer" is still young. Having won the Unified MMA Heavyweight Championship twice, Boser is clearly capable of finding similar success in his UFC career.
The 29-year-old will look to add to his winning column this year. The Canadian is expected to face veteran Ilir Latifi on June 5.
#4 Sergey Spivak
The state of Jared Vanderaa's face at UFC Vegas 19 tells you all you need to know about Sergey Spivak's potential. Written by way of blood, “Polar Bear” made a statement.
At just 26-years-old, his future looks destined to be a successful one. A professional fighter since 2014, Spivak is a former WWFC (World Warriors Fighting Championship) heavyweight champion.
Sandwiched between his UFC debut defeat to Walt Harris and a decision loss to Marcin Tybura, Spivak shocked Tai Tuivasa in brutal and bloody fashion.
In his last two bouts, Spivak achieved back-to-back UFC wins for the first time. Having had an inconsistent start to his UFC career, the Moldovan-Ukrainian will hope 2021 marks the start of his climb to the top. What's certain is that a big future is ahead for the young heavyweight. It wouldn't be a terrible shout placing a bet on Spivak to be the UFC heavyweight champ in 2028...
#3 Sergei Pavlovich
It says something about a fighter when, aside from a defeat to former UFC title challenger Alistair Overeem, they've never looked like losing. Sergei Pavlovich is that fighter. The Russian arrived at the UFC as a highly regarded prospect. Before his debut with the promotion, the 28-year-old was 12-0 with nine knockouts. Not much says the UFC is high on you like placing Overeem across from you on debut.
Dominant performances over Marcelo Golm and Maurice Greene in 2019 moved Pavlovich to a positive UFC record. The 28-year-old didn't fight in 2020 after surgery ruled him out of a scheduled bout with Ciryl Gane.
If his Instagram is any indication, the Orlovsky native isn't far from a return to the Octagon.
#2 Augusto Sakai
Augusto Sakai is one of the most promising fighters in the UFC heavyweight division. With a record of 15-2-1, Sakai has broken into the division’s top 10 after five UFC fights.
Since earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series three years ago, the Brazilian has been nothing short of impressive. Wins against Chase Sherman, Andrei Arlovski, Marcin Tybura and Blagoy Ivanov left Sakai 4-0 in the UFC heading into his first main-event. But against the legendary Overeem, the 29-year-old fell in the fifth round.
Sakai will look to get back into the winning books this year. He’ll have the chance to do so in May, when he faces fellow top-15 Shamil Abdurakhimov.
#1 Tom Aspinall
Tom Aspinall is legit. If that was ever in doubt, it’s not anymore.
My description of Aspinall as the division’s most promising future star is not through bias towards my fellow Englishman; it's because he’s proven he is. The 27-year-old has shown he’s a serious problem for the rest of the division.
Aspinall debuted in Abu Dhabi last summer. Two TKO wins in three months against Jake Collier and Alan Baudot prepared him for his toughest test yet – Andrei Arlovski.
The former UFC heavyweight champion had previously won consecutive bouts against Philipe Lins and prospect Tanner Boser. He could not do the same against the Englishman.
At 3-0 in the UFC, it seems a big fight will be next for Aspinall. On his Instagram, the 13th ranked fighter stated his availability for June or July.