Tonight, Junior dos Santos successfully defended his belt in dominant fashion against former champ Frank Mir. The action was intense, but incredibly one sided, as the Brazilian bomber pounded away on Mir with heavy punches to the head and body and was able to avoid grappling all together.
The victory is his ninth since joining the UFC, adding to his impressive list of dominant wins over most of the top contenders in the division including: Cain Velasquez, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin and Fabricio Werdum.
With Alistair Overeem suspended until the end of the year, and few top heavyweights who haven't already fallen at the hands of the champ, there is no clear answer as to who the next challenger should be.
Many will point to Cain Velasquez to receive a rematch.
Velasquez looked phenomenal tonight in his TKO victory over Bigfoot Silva, which was stopped in the first round via some head-bouncing ground and pound. While this is an attractive option, let's make sure that we don't forget that Velasquez lasted less than 70 seconds against the champ in their first meeting. It might be a hard sell to convince PPV buyers that Velasquez will fare better this time around.
Some might look to the winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, Daniel Cormier. The former captain of the US Olympic wrestling team is 10-0 in his professional career and has wins over Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett and Jeff Monson to his credit. At no point has Cormier looked vulnerable in the cage, and he has greatly improved his striking to compliment his impressive wrestling.
Other options exist, but they don't have a lot of appeal. While Fabricio Werdum has wins over Fedor Emelianenko and Roy Nelson, JDS knocked him out earlier in his career, and he also recently lost to Alistair Overeem in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Who should get the next title shot?
Mike Russow could potentially sneak his way into contention if he finds a way to defeat Werdum next month. Russow has lost only once in 17 professional fights, and is 4-0 in the UFC. A win over Werdum at UFC 147 would put a Top 5 fighter on his resume, and could potentially warrant a shot. Unfortunately, Russow is virtually unknown by fight fans due to his common placement on the undercard of events.
Stipe Miocic looked solid tonight, defeating fellow undefeated fighter Shane del Rosario with sickening ground and pound. He is a Golden Gloves boxer and has experience as an NCAA Division I wrestler. The problem is, he doesn't have enough name value to sell a PPV, nor has he defeated any members of the MMA elite.
So, the question remains, with no solid answer, who should get the next crack at the most prestigious prize in all of MMA?