Now that Frank Mir has won the sweepstakes to replace Alistair Overeem against Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title at UFC 146 on May 26, 2012, the next big question is who will face Cain Velasquez? Here are 5 possibilities.
1. Fabricio Werdum
The most probable choice is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Fabricio Werdum. Since losing to JDS in 2008, Werdum has put together a 4-1 record to justify a crack at a number one contender slot. He has already defeated a UFC top 10 heavyweight in Roy Nelson. Also, he was the first to defeat and submit the once unstoppable Fedor Emelianenko.
The one loss in his last 5 fights came from Alistair Overeem, but the severity of the loss has now been lightened with Overeem’s integrity regarding performance enhancing drugs being questioned.
The thing that may hold him back is that he is slated to fight at home in Brazil in June at UFC 147, but the chance of fighting for a number 1 contendership should be enough to give up the opportunity.
2. Mark Hunt
Although Frank Mir was the most likely candidate to replace Overeem at UFC 146, it has been clear on twitter and other social media outlets that not all fans are happy with the decision. If the UFC wants to win back some social media PR points, the many #RallyForMarkHunt supporters would love to see Mark Hunt in a co-main event. At this point, it definitely is more feasible to see Mark Hunt put his three fight win streak on the line against a former champ coming off a loss than fighting for the heavyweight title. The downside of moving Hunt up to the co-main event is that it creates another TBA spot versus his current opponent Stefan Struve who has been preparing for Hunt since the fight has been announced.
3. Fedor Emelianenko
If the UFC could work out an agreement with the Russian and his management, this would be the perfect time for a past his prime Fedor to enter the UFC. It wouldn’t affect any other fights on the UFC 146 card or the next.
Velasquez versus the former Pride heavyweight champion, Fedor, brings an intriguing match up as both fighters have a perfect mix of knockout power and grappling skills. A win over Velasquez would be a great way to set up Fedor’s last title run. A loss would be an admirable way to send a legend off on his shield into retirement.
4. Alistair Overeem
Alistair Overeem Vs Cain Velasquez may have been the headline fight for UFC 146 if Velasquez retained his title at UFC on FOX 1. If Alistair can somehow come out of his hearing with the NSAC this Tuesday with a license to fight, a fight against Velasquez would now be a cruel but not unusual punishment. It would almost be like the Nick Diaz situation when he was pulled from a title fight against GSP and replaced by Carlos Condit at UFC 137 for missing a few press events. But we won’t hold our breath.
5. Travis Browne
As one of the top prospects of the heavyweight division, Travis Browne could get the call to fight Velasquez if he can impressively end the 6 fight win streak of Chad Griggs this weekend at UFC 145. If so Browne will have earned 4 wins in a row and a crack at the heavyweight top ten. He has shown that he has the size, the power and the exciting fight style that fans will enjoy against Velasquez.