Alistair Overeem has no interest in waiting for a title shot before stepping back into the Octagon. With champion Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez competing on the New Year's card, The Reem avoids potentially sitting on the sidelines until next May, when the victor is ready for competition.
In fact, both JDS and Velasquez are somewhat injury prone and have each fought only three times in the past two years. The decision to not wait prevents Overeem from potentially missing most of 2013.
Overeem is eligible to reapply for a license on December 27, so it's feasible that he could participate at UFC 155 only two days later. However, for the past five years, there have been no less than two January cards, so The Demolition Man likely won't have to wait long if Dana White doesn't feel comfortable by banking on the expedience with the issuing of Overeem's new license.
In any event, here is a look at five potential opponents for Alistair Overeem upon his return.
Currently scheduled to compete on September 29, the winner of Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic will be in an enviable position. Both men will have successfully headlined a UFC card, both men will add another solid name to their resume.
Struve looks for his ninth win in the Octagon, while Miocic hopes to remain undefeated through his fourth UFC appearance. With each man ready to break through into the division's top 10, fighting an elite opponent like Overeem is an opportunity that you simply can't buy.
Squaring off on October 5, undefeated Travis Browne will undertake his biggest challenge to date when he meets Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the main event of UFC on FX 5.
Long considered to be a top prospect in the division, a win for Browne would make him 2-0 against Strikeforce imports and improve his overall record to 14-0-1.
Silva is searching for his first win since February 2011, as he is currently in hopes of escaping a two-fight skid. Losses to AKA's Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez each wrecked him in recent appearances.
Both heavyweights are an intimidating force within the division, and although they would certainly come into the bout as an underdog, they each pose a legitimate threat to Overeem.
French striker Cheick Kongo has made 17 UFC appearances and walked away victorious on 11 occasions. With victories against Mirko Cro Cop and Pat Barry, the Frenchman has competed and bested knockout artists in the past.
Coming off of a snoozer of a bout against Shawn Jordan, Kongo needs to take an exciting fight if he is to get back on the good side of UFC president Dana White.
It's doubtful that Kongo could out-strike Overeem, but he works well in the clinch and would likely hope to use his devastating ground-and-pound skills. Can he get The Reem to the ground? That's the biggest question.
Who is the best technical striker in the UFC? Many would argue that the boxing of champion Junior dos Santos in unparalleled. However, there are two K-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix champions on the roster: Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt.
The Super Samoan is currently riding an impressive three-fight winning streak, which is highlighted by a knockout victory against Cheick Kongo in February.
Hunt was scheduled to return at UFC 146, but he was forced out of the bout due to an injury. His estimated timetable for a return has not been announced, but he should certainly be ready for a comeback by January.
While Overeem has a pair of losses to Lil Nog during his time as a light-heavyweight, The Reem has yet to do battle with the larger of the twin black belts.
Overeem is one of the biggest names in MMA today, while Big Nog is one of the biggest stars that the sport has ever seen. A heavyweight bout between the two is a can't-miss fight that allows Nogueira to show us he's still got it, while offering Overeem a top-level opponent on his quest to get a shot at Junior dos Santos.
If the Reem can get past JDS' mentor, Cigano will be knocking down Dana White's door in hopes of avenging his fallen friend.