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2011 MMA Handicapping: UFC Title Picture Update

Best UFC/WEC/Strikeforce Fighters – UFC Title Picture Update

The last year has been an interesting one for the UFC. With the WEC and Strikeforce merging under the UFC’s ownership umbrella, it can be tough to keep track of who has which belt.

Here’s an updated look at the current UFC title picture. It includes the advent of two new weight classes from the WEC.

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HEAVYWEIGHT (206-265 lbs.)
Champion: Cain Velasquez (9-0)
Top contender(s): Junior Dos Santos, Brock Lesnar
Waiting in the wings: Alistair Overeem

Though he’s recovering from shoulder surgery, Cain Velasquez is sitting pretty. Aside from one early-fight scare against Cheick Kongo, he’s been positively untouchable in his MMA career. Junior Dos Santos is the most dangerous contender because of his heavy hands – but does he have the takedown defense to win the title? He’ll have to beat wrestler Brock Lesnar to earn his shot against Velasquez, another wrestler.

Eventually, Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem may get his shot, but probably not for another year.

Champion: Jon Jones (13-1)
Top contender: Rashard Evans
Waiting in the wings: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

Jonny “Bones” Jones proved his development was even further along than many bettors thought when he manhandled and even outstruck the prodigious striker Shogun Rua to win the light heavyweight title. Next up, he’ll face his former training partner, Rashad Evans, a man who can match Jones in speed and wrestling ability.

“Rampage” Jackson could get the next shot if he beats Matt Hamill in May. Randy Couture could be in the picture if he beats Lyoto Machida and decides not to retire.

Champion: Anderson Silva (28-4)
Top contender: Yushin Okami
Waiting in the wings: Michael Bisping

No division has a greater skill gap between its champion and the challengers. Anderson Silva, now 13-0 in the UFC, may not always mentally show up for fights but, when he does, there’s no one more spectacular. The boring, tentative Yushin Okami and Michael Bisping are just the types of fighters that won’t engage Silva enough to take the belt.

Champion: Georges St-Pierre (21-2)
Top contender: Jake Shields
Waiting in the wings: Jon Fitch

Georges St-Pierre’s air of invincibility is almost on par with Anderson Silva’s. There may not be a more well-rounded fighter in the history of the sport than GSP. His striking is superb and his wrestling is the best in the business.

Jake Shields is the most dangerous submission specialist to battle GSP yet but his remedial striking makes him a major underdog in the April 30 title fight. The next possible challenger is probably Jon Fitch (once his shoulder heals), who has already taken a beatdown from the champ.

LIGHTWEGIHT (155 lbs.)
Champion: Frankie Edgar (13-1-1)
Top contender: Gray Maynard
Waiting in the wings: Anthony Pettis, Clay Guida

After coming from behind for a draw with Gray Maynard when it looked like he was toast, Frankie Edgar will defend his belt against Maynard again in May. The winner of that will probably get the winner of final WEC champion Anthony Pettis and journeyman Clay Guida – though Edgar has discussed dropping down to featherweight.

Champion: Jose Aldo (18-1)
Top contender: Mark Hominick
Waiting in the wings: Frankie Edgar?

Also is on the fast track to the world No. 1 ranking. He’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and the speed and power of his strikes are light years away from the competition. Could the underrated Mark Hominick, a dynamite boxer, be his match? We’ll see on April 30. The next possible contender could be Edgar if he drops down.

Champion: Dominick Cruz (17-1)
Top contender: Urijah Faber
Waiting in the wings: Brian Bowles

Dominick Cruz has been dominant at bantamweight but his next opponent is the one man to beat him in his career: Urijah Faber. Former champ Brian Bowles could get another shot soon if he comes up with another win or two.

If the UFC hasn’t gone mainstream yet, it will on April 30 in Toronto. With more than 40,000 fans expected to attend at the Rogers Center in Toronto, UFC 129 will shatter the promotion’s attendance record. The UFC has a lot riding on this card, which has two title fights and a truckload of Canadian fighters. BET NOW!

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About Shea Matthews

Shea Matthews the Senior Writer at CP. Lives and breathes sports. He made the transition from athlete to sports journalist at a young age, writing in TV & national papers. Shea applies his knowledge to sports betting + handicapping daily, and shares winning picks with the world.