With current UFC interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir now sidelined for a month due to an apparent knee injury, what better time to speculate on who will take his place, if anybody, in the UFC 98 main event title fight against heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
The UFC may still be holding out hope that Mir will be ready for the May 23 epic rematch, we're not so optimistic. Mir merely holds the interim title tag so the possibility of an undisputed UFC heavyweight championship rematch remains in the works.
Even if somehow Mir were to compete, he wouldn't be at 100 percent, which would impact the fight tremendously.
Since losing to Mir at UFC 81 in February 2008, Lesnar has been a tear in his last two fights, defeating the legendary Randy Couture at UFC 91 last November to capture the heavyweight title, and winning over Heath Herring in a unanimous decision at UFC 87: Seek and Destory back in August.
Does the UFC pull its most marketable star off an otherwise stellar fight card, finally featuring a Matt Hughes v. Matt Serra in a retirement battle between former Ultimate Fighter coaches, and a high-quality Sean Sherk v. Frankie Edgar co-headlined bout?
Perhaps, UFC could push back the Lesnar v. Mir rematch until whenever Mir gets himself healthy and ready to fight. They haven't yet begun to really hype the fight as they would have in a couple weeks, but fans will still be disappointed with the UFC scheduling another Pay-per-view without a big-time title match.
Since we can't read Dana White's mind and we've got no idea where he wants to go after this unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance, we'll simply suggest one solution scenario we'd like to see happen for UFC 98 in Sin City.
Remember when "The Iceman" Chuck Liddell v. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was supposedly the biggest mixed martial arts main event title fight to shake up the sports landscape?
ESPN was broadcasting the weigh-ins live at its family of networks, recapping previous highlights on the big nightly SportsCenter lead-ins, and allowing a relatively unknown cage fighter to grace the pages of its glamorous mag.
UFC stock had never been so high.
Then Jackson rocks Liddell with a straight right, a left jab, and more rights. All of a sudden, all the media attention hype now gone. Since then the UFC has been relagated to a Spike TV sensation. A lot of money exists from boxing promoter exploits, and something or someone eagerly awaits ready to fill the void left by boxing.
If Lesnar plays his cards right, he will be the UFC’s biggest and brightest chance for infinite company growth, not media mogul ESPN, to return UFC and himself to the mainstream media spotlight.
Forget Liddell v. Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua at UFC 97. Push Liddell back a month and let him replace Mir at UFC 98. Lesnar, who's been wobbled by Couture, submitted once by Mir, and tested for five rounds by Herring, would have all he could handle with the new and improved Liddell whose heavy right-handed bombs dropped squarely upon Lesnars' chin may just knock the champion down—one...two...three.
A Lesnar vs. Liddell heavyweight title fight definitely has that—Liddell v. Jackson, Lesnar v. Couture jazz appeal. A fight White sells in his sleep without much self-promotion. Lesnar gives White that pre-packaged prized-fighter persona reserved for professional wrestling or boxing.
Lesnar's the perfect fighter for Chuck. If Liddell lands a punch like Couture hit Lesnar with or Lesnar shoots unsuccessfully, the opportunity for Chuck to smack Brock right in the face is like a doughboy brawlin' for his money day.
With his new Howard Davis Jr. led training regime, Liddell's striking skills and wrestling adaptability may surprise those fans who question the durability of an aging UFC icon ready to reign supreme once more. Don't be surprised to see Liddell upset Lesnar, regain his belt, and walk away as maybe the best to ever step inside a Octagon.
Granted, any fighter entering the Octagon against Lesnar must be massively brave. A beast inside the cage, Lesnar, progressing rapidly in his perfection of power, quickness, and strength, overwhelming opponents with a sheer dominance that parallels no other fighter in the sport.
An ultra-elite athlete whose endorsement deals ring non-existent, and whose three previous UFC fights boarder on unfair and scripted. His success as a champion and his marketability as a sports superstar capable of carrying the UFC and mixed martial arts deep into the next decade rests steadfast on the shoulders of one man's stubbornness and sketchy standards—Dana White.