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UFC Heavyweight rankings: The king of the top-10 could be out up to 6 months due to major knee surgery

ufc heavyweight rankings

Jan 22, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Francis Ngannou leaves the octagon after the win against Ciryl Gane during UFC 270 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Although heavyweights may not be the most technical of the various divisions in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it always remains a popular weight class when the elites of the division clash.

There are few things better than seeing combatants near 265-pounds go toe-to-toe in the Octagon. With that in mind, here are MixedMartialArts.com's top-10 UFC heavyweight rankings:

UFC Heavyweight rankings

10. Tai Tuivasa (14-3)

The master of the "shoey" is officially a top-10 fighter again. After a rough patch where he lost three straight and was on the cusp of being handed a UFC pink slip, "Bam Bam" has won four straight. With all but three of the fights ending in the first round. In beating Augusto Sakai at UFC 269, he once again earned another chance to prove himself as a division elite. Which he will now get in February against Derrick Lewis.

  • Next fight: vs. Derrick Lewis at UFC 271

9. Tom Aspinall (11-2)

ufc heavyweight rankings

July 26, 2020; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Tom Aspinall (red gloves) of England celebrates after his victory over Jake Collier (blue gloves) in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

On the heels of another impressive showing in the co-main of UFC Vegas 36, Tom Aspinall has landed in our top-10. The brightest heavyweight prospect from the UK in nearly a decade has become a must-see fighter over four showings in the Octagon. He has competed in the promotion four times and earned finishes each fight. With the last two against notable names in Andre Arlovski and Sergey Spivak. In March he will get another veteran litmus test from the top-10 talent and former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov.

  • Next fight: vs. Alexander Volkov (March 19)

8. Chris Daukaus (12-4)

In 13 months, Chris Daukaus has gone from a CFFC talent with strong potential, to one of the 10 best heavyweights in the world. He scored four straight finishes in the Octagon and earned a pivotal win at UFC 266 against a skilled veteran in Shamil Abdurakhimov. However, that run came to a destructive end in his biggest test yet against Derrick Lewis at UFC Vegas 45.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

7. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-3)

Jairzinho "Bigi Boy" Rozenstruik has been impressive in his eight-fight stint in the organization. Yes, he has lost twice, but that came against the current champion and one-half of the upcoming interim-title bout. In just two years he has risen into the upper echelon of the weight class and became a feared talent for his striking prowess and power. However, the Suriname native has hit a bit of a ceiling as he's alternated wins and losses in his last six. He will look to right the ship again in Feb. against former top-10 talent Marcin Tybura.

  • Next fight: vs Marcin Tybura on Feb. 26

6. Alexander Volkov (34-9)

There is no question that Alexander "Drago" Volkov is a top-10 heavyweight. However, his biggest knock is when the time comes to firmly establish himself as a top contender against other elite big men, he has come up short. Like he has in fights against Derrick Lewis, Curtis Blaydes, and in June against Ciryl Gane. However, at UFC 267 he showed his elite talent in stopping Tybura's five-fight win streak and notching his third win in his last four fights. "Drago" is back. He will try to build a new win streak in a headlining spot at UFC London against rising star Tom Aspinall in March.

  • Next fight: vs. Tom Aspinall (March 26)

5. Curtis Blaydes (14-3)

ufc heavyweight rankings

Sep 24, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Curtis Blaydes during weigh-ins for UFC 266 at Park Theater. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Losing to Lewis in February was a major setback for Blaydes. Once again, "Razor" used an impressive win streak to get back into the title picture, and a first-round knockout denied him a championship opportunity. He was able to bounce back from that loss at UFC 266 with a definitive win over fellow ranked talent Jairzinho Rozenstruik. A matchup with someone of the ilk of Stipe Miocic next would make a lot of sense for both men next.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

4. Stipe Miocic (20-4)

Despite losing the championship for the second time in March, Stipe Miocic's place as the best heavyweight of all time remains -- for now. The big question is what will be his next booking? A trilogy with Ngannou, to settle the score once and for all? Will he take another long hiatus -- which has been his modus operandi in recent years? The heavyweight legend's path forward seems cloudy at best.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

3. Derrick Lewis (26-8)

If not for the existence of Ngannou, Derrick Lewis would be considered the scariest fighter in the division. Not because of a technical striking style that's second to none. No, he is a man that just has absurd power in his fists and he knows how to use it. His failed bid at the interim title in August against Ciryl Gane was quickly rebounded with a destructive main event win over Chris Daukaus in December. He will get another young-gun thumper in Tai Tuivasa in February.

  • Next fight: vs. Tai Tuivasa at UFC 271

2. Ciryl Gane (10-1)

ufc heavyweight rankings

Jan 22, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Ciryl Gane reacts to the loss against Francis Ngannou during UFC 270 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Ciryl Gane'smeteoric rise through the division in just two years has been extremely impressive. However, his path to an interim title fight hasn't been a path of terror where he used heavyweight power to pummel foes. No, in little time "Bon Gamin" has shown to be one of the most technically skilled strikers in the weight class, while also having power commensurate with his size. However, for the first time, he showed weakness, in being outwrestled in the final three rounds of his title unification bout against champion Francis Ngannou, and squandered a chance to be the undisputed king of the division.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking

1. Champion: Francis Ngannou (17-3)

Francis Ngannou is one of the most terrifying forces in mixed martial arts. He has the sort of power in his hands that could stun an elephant, and he has shown every bit of it in his recent wins over Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and former champion Stipe Miocic. "The Predator" is a wrecking machine that now owns the heavyweight title, and is the official "Baddest Man on the Planet," after successfully defending his title for the first time against formerly unbeaten interim champ Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.

  • Next fight: Waiting for next booking