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UFC Heavyweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch

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UFC Heavyweight Division: Results, Ranking, History, Fighters to Watch

The UFC heavyweight division has played a pivotal role in the organization's success. This weight class has hosted numerous legendary fighters who have helped propel the UFC's popularity to unprecedented levels. Add to this several iconic fights, such as the rematch between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, and it's certainly a division that has captured the imaginations of fans.

We take a deep dive into the history of one of the UFC’s most famous divisions, explore the current UFC heavyweight rankings, and shift the spotlight on fighters to keep an eye on for the upcoming season.

UFC Heavyweight Division Explained 

While the UFC officially mandates a weight threshold of 265 pounds for the heavyweight division, instances of fighters competing slightly above this limit are not uncommon. A case in point is UFC Paris in September 2022, where Ciryl Gane weighed in at 247 pounds for his heavyweight fight, while his opponent, Tai Tuivasa, weighed 266 pounds. Even though Tuivasa was a pound above the weight limit, he was allowed to step into the Octagon.

Tuivasa, however, could not make the best use of the 19-pound advantage. Gane delighted the Accor Arena crowd with a superb victory against the Aussie fighter. 

In the UFC heavyweight division, the official weight range for non-title fights is 206-265 pounds. That said, fighters competing in title bouts are allowed an additional pound, bringing the limit to 266 pounds.

The UFC heavyweight division boasts a storied past, weathering periods of both dominance and quiet competition. However, it has arguably seen a resurgence in recent years, rivaling the era of Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar. The division is brimming with world-class fighters, with talents like Jon Jones, Tom Aspinall, and Cyril Gane gracing the octagon.

Recent UFC Heavyweight Division Fight 

The most recent UFC heavyweight event was the UFC 298 fight between Marcin Tybura and Tai Tuivasa.

  • Marcin Tybura vs Tai Tuivasa (Tybura beat Tuivasa by TKO).

The match was the main event of a UFC Fight Night card on March 16, at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite Tuivasa starting the fight off strong and landing some solid offense against Tybura, Tuivasa got overzealous and allowed Tybura some openings that he capitalized on. As a result, the Polish Tybura earned a first round submission victory over Tuivasa.

Upcoming UFC Heavyweight Division Fights

While there hasn't been any recent updates on the current heavyweight champion Jon Jones' health, the interim champion Tom Aspinall is expected to defend his interim title at the recently announced UFC 304 card, which is set to take place in Manchester, England, on July 27.

Also is note is that two highly-ranked heavyweight Russian fighters, Sergei Pavlovich and Alexander Volkov, are slated to square off on June 22, 2024. This is a major fight with high stakes in the heavyweight division, and someone will likely be getting knocked out.

Longtime UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis will also be facing Rodrigo Nascimento on May 11.

 

Who is the Current UFC Heavyweight Champion?

Jon Jones is the current UFC Heavyweight Champion who claimed the belt under the most dramatic circumstances. He ended a three-year hiatus to walk into the cage, face the current champion, and dethrone him. Jones showed zero signs of rustiness as he forced Ciryl Gane to the mat in less than a minute. 

The Frenchman could not survive Jones’ incredible determination and relinquished the belt in a mere 124 seconds. Jones executed a perfect choke submission that got the job done. This feat is even more impressive because it was Jones’ first heavyweight fight! 

At just 23, Jon Jones shocked the world and became the UFC's youngest-ever light heavyweight champion in 2011. Seemingly invincible, his future appeared limitless. However, the years since have been a rollercoaster for “Jonny Bones,” marked by both awe-inspiring wins and controversies outside the Octagon.

Jones' decision to decline a short-notice fight against Chael Sonnen after Dan Henderson's injury withdrawal led to the cancellation of UFC 151 – the first such event in the promotion's history. This sparked criticism from UFC President Dana White towards Jones and his coach Greg Jackson, who advised against the replacement bout. White's strong remarks included labeling Jackson a ‘sport killer'.

Further issues arose as Jones faced online accusations of fan abuse, a physical altercation with Daniel Cormier before their scheduled fight, and a positive pre-fight test for a metabolite of cocaine. These incidents resulted in him being stripped of the championship title twice.

Though dogged by behind the scenes controversies, Jon Jones remains an invincible force in the Octagon. He boasts an undefeated record in the UFC, having never been bested in his 28 professional bouts. Now 36, Jones has transcended his light heavyweight roots, currently reigning as the UFC Heavyweight Champion.

Jones' status as heavyweight champion remains untested. A scheduled title defense against Stipe Miocic in November was scrapped following Jones’ injury. While no official date is set, the UFC reportedly aims to rebook the highly anticipated Jones vs Miocic clash later in 2024.

UFC Heavyweight Division Rankings in 2024

The Heavyweight division in the UFC currently boasts a stacked roster. Here are the top dogs of the division right now:

  • Champion: Jon Jones
  1. Tom Aspinall (interim)
  2. Ciryl Gane
  3. Sergei Pavlovich
  4. Stipe Miocic
  5. Curtis Blaydes
  6. Alexander Volkov
  7. Jailton Almeida
  8. Marcin Tybura
  9. Serghei Spivac
  10. Tai Tuivasa
  11. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
  12. Derrick Lewis
  13. Alexandr Romanov
  14. Marcos Rogerio De Lima
  15. Rodrigo Nascimento

Current UFC Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is at the top of the pile, while Tom Aspinall leads the chasing pack. Aspinall's electrifying victory over Sergei Pavlovich in his last UFC outing served as a potent display of his multifaceted skillset. Aspinall's blazing hand speed and fluid transitions to grappling dominance resulted in a swift first-round finish, further cementing his rapid ascent within the heavyweight ranks.

A kickboxing pedigree ignited Ciryl Gane's MMA career in 2018. His swift strikes and smooth footwork turned heads quickly, propelling him to the Heavyweight title. Now, Gane sets his sights on reclaiming the belt he lost to Jones in 2023.

Sergei Pavlovich's background in boxing and Combat Sambo provided a potent arsenal for his MMA career. Signing with the UFC in 2018, his debut against Alistair Overeem unveiled his striking power and undeniable strength.

Fighters to Watch in the UFC Heavyweight Division

Jon Jones is undoubtedly the man to beat in the UFC heavyweight division, but who else can produce the fireworks this year? Here are the UFC heavyweight stars you should look out for in 2024:

Tom Aspinall

Tom Aspinall cut his teeth in the boxing ring; a natural step toward a flourishing MMA career. His early dominance on the regional circuit was undeniable, earning him a coveted UFC contract. In his July 2020 debut, Aspinall unleashed a devastating first-round submission on Jake Collier, cementing his promising UFC trajectory. 

Aspinall's well-rounded skillset makes him a true force to be reckoned with. His tall stature (6'5″) allows him to utilize a blend of speed and power, keeping opponents at bay with an ever-present threat on the feet.

Adding another weapon to his arsenal, Aspinall's mastery of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, honed under the guidance of Team Kaobon in Liverpool, allows him to dominate on the ground. This versatile profile has translated into an impressive UFC record for Aspinall since joining the organization.

Speculation swirls around UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Alex Pereira potentially moving up a weight class to challenge Tom Aspinall in the UFC 300 main card. However, Aspinall has publicly stated being unaware of any such discussions, as he hasn't been approached about the fight.

Stipe Miocic

Combining striking power with his wrestling background, Miocic's versatility makes him a well-rounded threat in the heavyweight division. After his UFC debut in 2011, he meticulously climbed the heavyweight ranks, securing impressive victories over established veterans like Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt. In 2016, his resilience culminated in capturing the heavyweight title with a knockout victory over Fabricio Werdum.

Stipe Miocic soared to a whole new level after his epic three-fight battle with Daniel Cormier. He lost the first one, but came back strong to win the belt back in 2019 and defended it successfully at UFC 252 in 2020. This epic saga cemented his status as one of the most legendary heavyweights in UFC history, firmly establishing his technical mastery, unwavering resilience, and exceptional adaptability in front of the roaring crowd.

Miocic's anticipated title challenge against Jon Jones in November was put on hold due to Jones' injury. While the UFC hasn't announced Miocic's next fight, potential matchups with Jones or Tom Aspinall could be announced later in 2024.

Jailton Almeida 

New blood Jailton Almeida is making waves in the UFC. Towering at 6'4″, Brazilian fighter Jailton Almeida cuts an imposing figure in the Octagon. His diverse skillset, honed through training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Boxing, showcases the dynamism and versatility of his fighting style. Despite joining the UFC recently, Almeida boasts an impressive track record from successful regional bouts.

Almeida’s blend of raw power and surgical striking makes him an incredibly difficult opponent. He unleashes a storm of blows to maintain relentless pressure throughout the fight. The Brazilian has been climbing the ladders fast in UFC and soon could lock horns with the division’s finest for glory. In his next assignment, Almeida will face Curtis Blaydes at UFC 299 on March 9. 

History of the UFC Heavyweight Division

The UFC's first heavyweight champion was crowned in 1997 at UFC 12. Mark Coleman emerged victorious, unifying the Superfight Championship and the Tournament Championship by defeating Dan Severn.

Legendary fighters like Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, Frank Mir, Andre Arlovski, Brock Lesnar, Josh Barnett, and Randy Couture have all held the prestigious title of UFC Heavyweight Champion. 

Stipe Miocic claimed the title with a victory at UFC 198 in Brazil. However, at UFC 226, he lost the belt to Daniel Cormier in a thrilling encounter.

In a highly-anticipated rematch at UFC 241 on August 17, 2019, Stipe Miocic reclaimed the UFC Heavyweight Championship from Daniel Cormier. Miocic's decisive TKO victory in the fourth round came after landing devastating left hooks to Cormier's body, followed by a flurry of punches to the head.

In March 2021, the heavyweight division saw a changing of the guard. Francis Ngannou delivered a knockout blow to Stipe Miocic, claiming the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Ngannou successfully defended his title once, defeating Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.

Jon Jones's much-anticipated return to the Octagon proved dominant, as he captured the vacant UFC Heavyweight title with a first-round submission victory over Ciryl Gane.

UFC Heavyweight Division FAQs

Who is the UFC Heavyweight Champion?

Jon Jones is the present UFC Heavyweight Champion. He cruised to a first-round victory against Cyril Gane at UFC 285 to take the belt home. It was Jones' first fight in three years and his first-ever in the heavyweight division. 

What is the Weight Limit in the UFC Heavyweight Division?

The weight limit in the UFC heavyweight division is 265 pounds, but 266 pounds is the ceiling for title fights. 

Who is the Best UFC Heavyweight Fighter?

While Jon Jones currently holds the UFC Heavyweight Championship, Stipe Miocic's legacy as a heavyweight great remains unchallenged. Holding the belt for a combined four years across two reigns, Miocic's exceptional fighting skills and consistent top performances throughout his career solidify his place as the division's all-time great.

Bren Gray is our resident Kiwi, and has been writing about sports since he could first string words together. He first fell in love with boxing when David Tua took on Lennox Lewis in 2000, and hasn't looked back since.