The most anticipated matchup in the UFC heavyweight division is probably Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem.
But is it the right time to put that particular contest together—or even Cain Velasquez vs. Alistair Overeem?
The heavyweight division is as competitive as it has ever been, with no shortage of potentially compelling encounters to whet the appetite.
In particular, most point to the inevitable dos Santos-Overeem bout as the most prominent example of the division’s newfound appeal. However, the hype for that particular fight has cooled off to some extent.
Indeed, it has been almost a year since the Hulk-like Dutchman dismissed Brock Lesnar in a contest more reminiscent of a WWE squash match.
When Overeem returns next year, he will almost certainly be dealing with a touch of ring rust. Therefore, one wonders whether he should be greeted by the division’s best upon his return.
It may be more prudent to match the former K-1 champ up with someone on the fringe of the division’s elite, as a tune-up for his eventual run at the heavyweight strap.
But with Overeem out of the picture, who would be next in line for a shot at the heavyweight title? The smart money is on Daniel Cormier.
The former Olympian has developed into a proficient striker, complementing his near-peerless wrestling base. Should he run through Frank Mir, it would be logical to capitalise on his hype and fast-track him to a title shot.
Of course, this is all contingent on a number of factors.
Firstly, Cormier must beat Mir impressively in order to justify the decision to match him up with the UFC’s top heavyweight. Most importantly, though, dos Santos will likely have to overcome Cain Velasquez.
Cormier and Velasquez have been somewhat noncommittal on the issue of whether they would ever fight, but the former has publicly suggested that he may move down to 205 pounds if push comes to shove, while at the same time leaving the door to a teammate vs. teammate contest slightly ajar.
With that said, if all goes as most expect it will, the dos Santos vs. Cormier contest is probably the most compelling matchup on offer while we wait for Overeem to shake off the ring rust—I actually think Velasquez will beat Junior, for what it’s worth.
While the fans are eager to see the division’s two most dominant strikers go head to head, wouldn’t it be that much better if the bout was contested with both at their peak?
Fast-tracking Cormier to No. 1 contender status might just be the ideal way to get us there.