Now that Fedor has signed with the new M-1 and Randy Couture has resigned from the UFC and given up the belt, where does the UFC heavyweight division go from here?
What Should Happen
The UFC should make the Tim Sylvia vs. Brandon Vera fight at UFC 77 a #1 contender matchup. The winner of that fight should get Minotauro Nogueira on the December 29th card for the vacant heavyweight title. If not on December 29th, then make it their January pay per view. Either way, this should be the pecking order now. Winner of Vera/Sylvia gets Nog for the vacant title. The question is how long do they want to keep Nogueira on the shelf? If this situation takes place, it will have been a good five months since he fought.
What I’d Like To See
Whenever there’s a vacant title, I am always one for instituting a Grand Prix. I’d like to see the UFC do this with both the lightweight and the heavyweight titles. Guys don’t have to fight multiple times a night, just string the Grand Prix out over the course of a few events. Of course, this will never happen because Dana hates tournaments. I personally think it’s the only fair way to decide a true champion in the weight class and provides some potentially interesting matchups.
What Will Happen
Does the UFC have any other choice than to make Sylvia vs. Vera a #1 contender fight and have the winner fight Nogueira? Logically that seems like the only option. Of course, the world of mixed martial arts has been defying logic as of late. I don’t see any other option for the UFC to decide a champion than this one, unless they want to make Vera vs. Sylvia for the title on short notice. I doubt they’d do that, though.
Bold Prediction: Brandon Vera will go on a tear in the heavyweight division, beating both Sylvia and Nogueira and will be your new UFC heavyweight champ by year’s end or early 2008.