With little chance of signing the world's best heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko and no intent of bringing back fighters like Tim Sylvia and Josh Barnett, the UFC is beginning to build its heavyweight ranks with recent signings and prospects who emerged in 2008.
There will be no shortage of intriguing fights for whoever is the clear champ come April, Brock Lesnar or the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira/Frank Mir winner. The victor at UFC 92 should face Lesnar in April or May. Then you may start to hear names like Shane Carwin (pictured on the left) or Cain Velasquez. Because of injuries and less experience, Velasquez won't really arrive on the highest level until late 2009 at best. Carwin, 6-foot-4, 265 lbs., is set for a breakthrough in the middle of the year. Rumors have it that the UFC is ready to really test the former NFL prospect and Division II wrestling champ. He may face one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division, Gabriel Gonzaga, potentially at the UFC event slated for Columbus, OH. in March.
The build up for the division doesn't stop there. The promotion is rolling the dice on massive British heavyweight Neil Grove. At 6-6, 260 and tatted up, Grove (pictured on the right) has the look. But much like many of the British fighters, he's a bit one dimensional. It's all or nothing with his hands.
The UFC also scooped up an impressive Dutch prospect in Stefan Struve. Struve, just 20 already has 18 pro fights under his belt. He's a bit freakish for the division at 6-8, 220.
Struve will make his UFC debut in February at UFC 95 in London.
Photos via Sherdog