The UFC heavyweight division is one of the toughest to predict. The pure power of its fighters means a knockout can come from anywhere. Some of the best title fights in history have come in the UFC’s heaviest weight class.
Randy Couture and Pedro Rizzo had an epic clash at UFC 31. Brock Lesnar completed an unbelievable comeback against Shane Carwin at UFC 113. Fabricio Werdum took the title from Cain Velasquez at UFC 188. Most recently, Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier treated us to a classic trilogy spanning three years.
Predicting the next five UFC Heavyweight Champions:
For the first time since 2018, a different name will appear in a UFC heavyweight title fight. This weekend’s clash between Miocic and Francis Ngannou, coupled with Jon Jones’ move up, begins a period with many possibilities for the division.
On that note, let’s predict the next five UFC heavyweight champions.
#5 Tom Aspinall
Tom Aspinall's presence in my pieces is no longer through bias towards my compatriot; it's because he belongs in the UFC heavyweight division. Aspinall has shown he’s a serious problem for the rest of the division.
The 27-year-old debuted on 'Fight Island' last summer. A TKO win against Jake Collier was followed by another three months later, this time against Alan Baudot. The Mancunian’s stiffest test came against Andrei Arlovski last month, though.
The former UFC heavyweight champion had previously won consecutive bouts against prospects Philipe Lins and Tanner Boser. He did not do the same against Aspinall, though.
At 3-0 in the UFC with three finishes, Aspinall has risen to 13th in the rankings. His potential next opponents include Blagoy Ivanov, who was due to face Marcin Tybura this month but withdrew due to injury.
If Aspinall is ready to fight sooner, a meeting in the Octagon with fellow prospect Chris Daukaus could be on the cards.
A fight with Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who recently lost to Ciryl Gane, might not be out of the picture, though. Big things are seemingly destined for Tom Aspinall.
#4 Curtis Blaydes
Curtis Blaydes' stock was sky-high after a brutal display of elbows busted open Alistair Overeem at UFC 225. A second defeat to Francis Ngannou followed, which, given his KO tear through the division, was no serious setback for the 30-year-old.
A four-fight UFC win streak across 2019 and 2020 brought 'Razor' Blaydes back into contention for the title. Victories against Junior Dos Santos and Alexander Volkov carried Blaydes to a February main event with Derrick Lewis.
Blaydes’ reputation in the UFC heavyweight division perhaps took a step back with the way he defeated Volkov, given his talk beforehand. A brutal knockout loss to Lewis last month has pushed the Chicago-raised wrestler further back.
What's clear is that despite his recent loss and Dana White's comments on his Volkov win, Blaydes is the real deal.
Boasting the record for the most takedowns in UFC heavyweight history (14), Blaydes is one of the best wrestlers in the division. His win against Dos Santos proved he also possesses quality striking abilities.
With both fighters coming off losses, a clash with Jairzinho Rozenstruik seems to be the next step. Blaydes could also look to be the first to add a defeat to Ciryl Gane's record.
Although, for now, Blaydes has drifted from serious title contention, his potential keeps him in line for a belt in the years to come.
#3 Ciryl Gane
Ciryl Gane is one of the most exciting European newcomers in the UFC. Since debuting in 2019, the Frenchman has transformed from a prospect into a legitimate heavyweight contender.
Submissions over Don’Tale Mayes and Raphael Pessoa showed his ability on the mat. A TKO win over former champion Junior Dos Santos showed his power. Unanimous decision victories over Tanner Boser and Jairzinho Rozentruik showed he could grind out results in key fights. As of yet, we’ve not seen a weakness in the 30-year-old’s game.
Sitting at number three in the UFC heavyweight rankings, 'Bon Gamin' has shot into contention in rapid time.
It stands to reason a fight with second-ranked Derrick Lewis could determine who faces either the winner of Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou 2 or, should Jones face the winner, the victor of that resulting title fight.
It’s difficult to picture a way Gane doesn’t become the UFC heavyweight champion, should he continue on his current path.
#2 Jon Jones
Jon Jones is the most dominant light heavyweight in UFC history. He’s arguably the greatest of all time. Adding the UFC Heavyweight Championship to his CV will end that discussion for good.
Regarded by most as undefeated, Jones became the youngest UFC champion in history with a win over Mauricio Rua, aged 23.
The number of records he holds at 205 lbs is remarkable. He boasts the most title defences, longest win streak, most wins and most submission victories. Despite that success, 'Bones' Jones is hungry for more.
Bulking up to heavyweight, Jones has looked good in a series of social media posts. Yet to debut in his new division, Jones could be set to face the winner of this weekend’s UFC 260 main event.
It’s difficult to see the 33-year-old not becoming the UFC heavyweight champion.
#1 Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou has the chance to turn this from a prediction to a reality this Saturday. At UFC 260, the Cameroonian gets his second shot at Stipe Miocic's heavyweight belt.
In the time 'The Predator' has spent in the Octagon across his last four wins, you could just about make yourself a tea or coffee. Two minutes and 42 seconds; four knockouts. Ngannou couldn’t have torn his way back into another title fight in a more convincing way!
Leaving a trail of knocked-out bodies behind him, 'The Predator' has floored Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the three years since his first championship fight.
Whether this week, next year or in 2023, Francis Ngannou has too much destructive power to not become a champion.