The first quarter of 2017 will be a big stretch for the heavyweight division, as the UFC has pencilled two huge heavyweight scraps onto the calendar. These fights will see the division’s two best prospects take big steps up in competition against well established names.
The first of these heavyweight showdowns will occur on January 28, at UFC on Fox 23, when French-Cameroonian destroyer Francis Ngannou gets the biggest test of his career in former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. The second will occur just weeks later, when massive Texan Derrick Lewis faces what could be his biggest test in fringe contender Travis Browne. Lewis and Browne will duke it out on February 11, at UFC 208 in Brooklyn.
Ngannou will enter his bout with Arlovski having recently tapped a game Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton with a first round kimura. This win moved Ngannou to 4-0 in the UFC, as he scored strike-induced stoppages over Luis Henrique, Curtis Blaydes and Bojan Mihajlović in his first three bouts with the organization. With his defeat of Hamilton he moved to 9-1 overall.
Arlovski, meanwhile, is currently on a three-fight skid, having come up short against Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett in his last three bouts. Prior to this skid, the Belarusian heavyweight enjoyed a nice career resurgence with a six-fight streak that included defeats of Brendan Schaub, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Travis Browne, and Frank Mir. He’s now 25-13 overall.
Lewis will enter his bout with Browne having scored a late TKO over Shamil Abdurakhimov on the same night that Ngannou tapped Hamilton. With this win, Lewis extended his win-streak to five, having also recently defeated Viktor Pesta, Damian Grabowski, Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson. He’s now 17-4 overall.
Once regarded as one of the heavyweight division’s hottest prospects, Browne has unfortunately fallen off considerably, having lost three of his last five bouts. When we last saw him in action, he gave up a decision to Fabricio Werdum. Prior to that loss, he crumpled under a first round assault from Cain Velasquez. Before that, he sandwiched a loss to Andrei Arlovski between defeats of Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione. He’s now 18-5-1 overall.
Who do you think wins these two heavyweight showdowns? Sound off, PENN Nation!