Cain Velasquez (Paul Thatcher/ Fight magazine)Will the UFC’s Heavyweight Division Fade Without Young Talent? Jake Schneider February 15, 2016 News, Spotlight, UFC The average age of a fighter in the top 10 of the UFC’s heavyweight division? 34 years old. We decided to round down, too. The heavyweight division seems to be in all sorts of dysfunction and it has been a problem for the UFC for the past few years. The division has had a problem with depth and is in desperate need of more young prospects and fighters to add to the division. Over the past few years, the heavyweight division has had glimpses of excellence that has affected the promotion heavily such as the stardom of Brock Lesnar, as well as the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos trilogy. Back in 2008, the UFC signed one of its biggest stars ever in Lesnar, who made the crossover from being an NFL player, to a WWE superstar, to a professional mixed martial artists. His crossover to the promotion brought in a ton of new exposure to the sport. And, although his tenure under the promotion only lasted from 2008 to 2011, he was able to capture the UFC belt, as well as defend his title, and with only seven fights under the promotion, his star power brought new life to the division. Lesnar was the star that the UFC had dreamed of for the heavyweight division and when he was dethroned by Velasquez, it seemed in a way that he was passing the torch. Velasquez was viewed as the new superstar of the division, yet alone the company. After beating Lesnar, and piling up record of 7-0 in the UFC, it seemed as if the UFC finally had the superstar that the division needed and that he was going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Velasquez’s biggest enemy in his career thus far has been injuries and his lack of consistency fighting since he had won the belt. After coming off an injury, he looked to defend his belt and was knocked out early on by dos Santos. Since that loss, he went on to win his next four bouts, but since that one loss to dos Santos in 2011, Velasquez had fought only four times going into 2015 where he finally fought Fabricio Werdum and was defeated in the third round. Velasquez’s mixed martial arts career has been plagued by injuries and it is evident at this point in his career that being healthy will continue to be a problem for him. His spectacular trilogy with dos Santos has been one of the highlights of the division in recent years, but it seems as if the three fights against each other have taken a toll on both fighters. With how fast of a sport mixed martial arts is growing, it is very hard for fighters who are at the top of their divisions to stay at the top, especially with all of the new upcoming talented fighters that are joining the promotion every few months. This is a problem for mostly every fighter that is ranked in their division except the heavyweight division. It seems as if due to the lack of talent in the division, many fighters that are ranked can afford to lose a few fights because only one or two wins will get their names right back into title talks. But due to how big the fighters in the division are, and how much power they have, it is hard for heavyweights to find consistency. More often then not, when a bout in this division goes down, odds are there is going to be a finish and the fight won’t see its way to the judging panel. It has been hard to find a fighter in this division that shows enough consistency to say that a certain fighter is a unstoppable or unbeatable, which are traits that make fighters superstars. There are different solutions to fix the depth problem that the heavyweight division is experiencing. Add another season of The Ultimate Fighter dedicated to heavyweights The Ultimate Fighter is a show that is used to introduce new faces and fighters to the UFC by putting them on a reality television show, where fans can see how these fighters live their lives and get to know them. This gives a ton of exposure to the fighters that are on the season and helps their following a lot by giving them the exposure. In 2009, the UFC had a season of TUF dedicated strictly to heavyweights and the show produced a lot of fighters that added a lot to the division. For example, the winner of the season, Roy Nelson, who fought recently at the last event, is a huge fan favorite and is currently ranked 11th in the division. Another ranked fighter who is a product of the show is Matt Mitrione who is currently ranked 13. Another fighter who had success in the UFC who was a finalist on the show was Brendan Schuab who had recently retired. The problem with all of these fighters, as well as the division, is the age. Nelson is 39 and Mitrione 37, which highlights even further the need for young new talent to add to the division. A new season of TUF dedicated to the heavyweight division would do great things for the heavyweight division with a bunch of new faces and talent to add to one of the oldest divisions in the promotion. Below is the current official UFC ranking of the heavyweight division, along with their age, to highlight how big of an issue this is. C: Champion- Fabricio Werdum (age 38) 1. Cain Velasquez (age 33) 2. Stipe Miocic (age 33) 3. Alistair Overeem ( age 35) 4. Ben Rothwell (age 34) 5. Andrei Arlovski (age 37) 5. Junior Dos Santos ( age 32) 7. Travis Browne (age 33) 8. Josh Barnett (age 38) 9. Mark Hunt (age 41) 10. Frank Mir ( age 36) Out of the top 10 ranked heavyweights, not one of them is under 30 years old. The youngest top 10 heavyweight is dos Santos, who is a veteran that in any other division would be considered an older aged fighter that is starting to come out of his prime. Jon Jones transitions to heavyweight Another solution would be to have UFC superstar and pound-for-pound great move to the heavyweight division. We’re of course, referring to “Bones” Jones. Since being stripped of his belt due to out of competition reasons, he is making his long awaited return since being arrested and rematching against the last man that he defeated, and current champion, Daniel Cormier. The bout is slated for UFC 197 in April and Jones has made it evident that after he defeats Cormier, if he is able to pull off the win, that he wants to fight Anthony Johnson, then rematch Alexander Gustafson, who he defeated in the toughest fight of his career and some might have given Gustafson the win in that bout, and then make the move up to the heavyweight division. In recent videos, Jones looks to be huge, and with his crazy athleticism and physique, he would offer things to the heavyweight division that have never been seen before. Jones being 6’4, and his wide reach of 84.5 inches which is longer then most heavyweights, would have no problem adjusting from the lightweight division. There are other fights that have also shown interest in moving up to the weight class such as Johnson who is massive for light heavyweight and would also offer a lot to the heavyweight division. The majority of the current heavyweight division is older and on the decline of their respected careers, which is why it is time to see new faces making a name for themselves rather then the veterans that have been around the block still being at the top of the division. With almost the entire division aging and not a single ranked divisional fighter younger then 31, the division is wide open for young heavyweight fighters and wide open for the next big star in the division.