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1. Stipe Miocic (19-3)Down on the scorecards after three rounds, Miocic showed the ability to adjust at UFC 241, as he attacked Daniel Cormier’s body to set up a fourth-round technical knockout victory in their rematch in Anaheim, Calif. Not only was it a nice rebound from his KO loss to “DC” in their first meeting at UFC 226, but it refocused talks on Miocic as potentially the greatest heavyweight of all-time. The Ohio-based firefighter now owns five victories in UFC title bouts, the second most in the history of the heavyweight division. The trilogy with Cormier has been booked for UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
2. Daniel Cormier (22-2, 1 NC)For three rounds, Cormier waded forward with total disregard for Stipe Miocic’s power in the UFC 241 headliner. That approach ultimately failed him in the fourth stanza, however, as Miocic began to dig to the body. Those blows gradually accumulated until Miocic was able to hurt “DC” and flurry for the finish at the 4:09 mark of the period. Cormier will have a chance to end his MMA career in style when he faces Miocic in a farewell heavyweight championship trilogy bout at UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
3. Francis Ngannou (15-3)Ngannou bolstered an already-fearsome reputation at UFC 249, when he demolished the previously unbeaten Jairzinho Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds. It was the fourth straight first-round finish and eighth inside of a round overall in UFC competition for “The Predator,” who now must play the waiting game as the promotion attempts to find a date for the Stipe Miocic-Daniel Cormier trilogy. In the meantime, Ngannou’s attempt to stoke the flames for a Jon Jones superfight fell short — at least for the time being.
4. Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC)Blaydes set a heavyweight record with 14 takedowns in a unanimous decision win over Alexander Volkov in the UFC on ESPN 11 main event on June 20. While the Elevation Fight Team product fatigued in the championship rounds, he still had enough left in the tank to earn his fourth consecutive UFC triumph. Blaydes remains firmly behind Francis Ngannou – the only man to beat him in the Octagon – in the heavyweight championship discussion.
5. Junior dos Santos (21-7)Dos Santos may be inching closer to gatekeeper status following a second-round TKO defeat at the hands of Curtis Blaydes in the UFC Fight Night 166 main event. While “Cigano” did well defending his opponent’s takedowns, he had no answers for Blaydes’ powerful overhand right, which ultimately led to his demise. The 35-year-old Brazilian has now lost back-to-back fights via TKO and his last five defeat in UFC competition have come via knockout or technical knockout. Dos Santos will square off against Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
6. Derrick Lewis (23-7)Lewis’ penchant to go for broke saved him against Ilir Latifi at UFC 247. “The Black Beast” struggled at times with the grinding approach of the converted light heavyweight, but a furious final two minutes delighted the hometown Houston crowd and allowed Lewis to edge Latifi on the scorecards via unanimous decision. It wasn’t quite on the level of his Hail Mary finish of Alexander Volkov, but Lewis’ awareness is encouraging to see in a fight where he could have lost without a sense of urgency. Lewis has now won his last two fights in UFC competition and will square off against Alexey Oleynik in the main event of a card on Aug. 8.
7. Alexander Volkov (31-8)Though he had a few positive moments in the championship rounds, Volkov couldn’t stay upright long enough to truly threaten Curtis Blaydes in a unanimous decision loss at UFC on ESPN 11 on June 20. After beginning his promotional tenure with four consecutive triumphs, the former Bellator MMA champion has dropped two of his last three Octagon appearances..
8. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-1)Perhaps Francis Ngannou was right: Rozenstruik didn’t really know what he was getting into when he called out the division’s scariest knockout artist. After a 20-second TKO defeat at FUC 249, Rozenstruik definitely knows. While “Bigi Boy” was one of 2019’s breakout fighters with a 4-0 campaign that concluded a Hail Mary KO of Alistair Overeem, it’s clear that he still has a ways to go before breaking into the upper echelon at heavyweight. Rozenstruik will get a chance to rebound when he locks horns with Junior dos Santos at UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
9. Alistair Overeem (46-18)Overeem’s chin held up during a first-round assault from Walt Harris in the UFC on ESPN 8 headliner, and once “The Big Ticket” emptied his gas tank, the Dutch veteran was able to capitalize for a second-round technical knockout victory in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 16. The former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 champion celebrated his 40th birthday shortly thereafter, and he has designs on chasing another title shot in the final chapter of his career. Overeem has won three of his last four Octagon appearances — a stretch that could easily be four straight were it not for a last-second lapse against Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
10. Ryan Bader (27-5, 1 NC)Bader was never in danger against Cheick Kongo in the Bellator 226 headliner, as he rattled the Frenchman on the feet before taking his opponent down and imposing his will on the mat. However, the bout ended prematurely due to an inadvertent eye poke from the Power MMA Team representative. As a result, Bader has a no contest on his record but is unbeaten in his last eight bouts dating back to September 2016. Bader plans on defending his light heavyweight belt next once Bellator MMA resumes its schedule.
Other Contenders: Cheick Kongo, Walt Harris, Vitaly Minakov, Alexey Oleynik, Augusto Sakai.
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