If there has been one knock on the UFC that has consistently come from the mouths of fans, it is that the UFC heavyweight division is stale, light on talent and, well, light on quantity. At one point this year, just 24 fighters occupied the division, which is often featured with high billing on the UFC’s events. People were growing weary of seeing mismatches or title fights that felt forced due to the low amount of heavyweight fighters employed.

Ladies and gentleman, it appears that times may be changing.

In the last two weeks or so, the UFC has started to rebuild the division with new talent. It is a sign that the UFC is committed to giving one of its most featured divisions the depth and excitement that it has deserved for so long.

There are three men that have been signed by the UFC in the past two weeks: Poland’s Daniel Omielanczuk, Ukraine’s Nikita Krylov and the legendary Josh Barnett, who was reportedly signed last night. Just the addition of these three men is enough of an indication that the UFC is looking to build the division. Furthermore, we have three men that are yet to debut (or re-debut) for the UFC. First, Geronimo dos Santos of Brazil is waiting for medical clearance to make his debut—he was previously ruled out from fighting when pre-fight medical screenings revealed that he had a form of hepatitis. There’s also one-time UFC competitor Soa Palelei, who makes a return after nearly six years away from the eight-sided cage. Finally, Strikeforce import Nandor Guelmino, whose only appearance in that company was a loss to Barnett, will get a shot with the UFC.

With all of these men set to enter the Octagon, the UFC heavyweight is now as exciting as ever. New faces are always a great thing, especially that of a guy like Krylov, who is 20 years old and could be a staple of the division for years to come.

Barnett and Palelei have cult followings, which will bring even more business to the UFC. Barnett is a legend of the sport with an attitude and personality more typical to the world of professional wrestling, and he also happens to have a dominating style. Palelei is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, is constantly looking for the quick finish and also has a personality that wins over fans. These two will be stars with the UFC.

The biggest thing that some of these signings does is that it prevents Bellator from snagging these fighters for its own roster. Bellator is notorious for going after European prospects, and Omielanczuk, Krylov and Guelmino were all top European heavyweight prospects that hwere likely on Bellator’s radar. Now, the UFC has a chance to expose fans to them, for better or worse.

The UFC needs to continue snagging up the big boys for the continued building of one of the most exciting divisions in MMA. With all the talent out there, such as Damian Grabowski (Poland), Sergei Kharitonov (Russia), Maro Perak (Croatia) and Smealinho Rama (Canada), the division could be the most stacked—and internationally diverse—division in the history of the sport.

Photo: Josh Barnett celebrates victory (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Riley Kontek
Staff Writer

Riley Kontek is a Chicago-land native that has been an addict of mixed martial arts since the first Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz encounter. He has been writing on MMA for the last year and is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA. In addition to that, he used to host a weekly radio show on MMA. Though he has no formal training in mixed martial arts, Riley is a master in the art of hockey fighting.