With heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez out for at least 6-8 months, Brock Lesnar gone AWOL hunting in Canada for several months, Shane Carwin out with back surgery and Roy Nelson in a contract dispute with a former employer the UFC’s 265lb weight class did not look in great shape heading into 2011.

A couple of weeks into the New Year the top half of the division is beginning to snap back into focus however.

Today’s announcement that recently displaced champion Brock Lesnar and current No.1 contender Junior Dos Santos will coach TUF 13 and then fight in June for the next title shot helps clear up a lot of the confusion.

Other top contenders also have recently been allocated fights. We now know that former champion Frank Mir will take on TUF 10 winner Roy Nelson at UFC 130 for instance. Meanwhile Shane Carwin is also set to get back into the octagon at UFC 131, though we’ll have to wait to find out his opponent.

Some of the new breed of heavyweights are also lined up to compete in the first half of 2011.

Brendan Schaub will look to extend his four fight unbeaten run against veteran Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 128 in May , while Stefan Struve aims for a third consecutive win against Travis Browne.

Finally Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira expects to finally be fit again to fight after knee and hip operations in August.  Many of the match-ups mentioned above could decide who he’ll fight at that point.

Under the circumstances the UFC have done well.  The cancellation of the Velasquez Vs Dos Santos title fight was a tough blow, but pairing Lesnar and Dos Santos on TUF 13 is the perfect replacement and should generate a great deal of interest in both the show, and their fight in the summer.

Meanwhile the rest of the upper half of the division will have plenty of time to establish a new pecking order, though it looks as if the likes of Mir, Nelson and Carwin may now have to wait until 2012 before potentially being in a position to fight for the title.

Check out the major match-ups coming up in the heavyweight division at a glance below.

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March:

  • TUF 13 Ft Lesnar And Dos Santos Coaching Airs On Spike TV
  • UFC 128: Brendan Schaub Vs Mirko Cro Cop

May:

  • UFC 130: Frank Mir Vs Roy Nelson
  • UFC 130: Stefan Struve Vs Travis Browne

June:

  • UFC 131: Brock Lesnar Vs Junior Dos Santos
  • UFC 131: Shane Carwin Vs ?

July – December:

  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s Return
  • UFC ???: Cain Velasquez Vs Brock Lesnar / Junior Dos Santos

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