Cain Velasquez was relentless in the UFC 155 main event, bringing the fight to Junior dos Santos and taking his belt back in decisive fashion.
In November 2011, Velasquez was dethroned by Dos Santos via first-round knockout, though it was later discovered both fighters had been dealing with significant knee injuries during the bout (via FightoftheNight.com).
As a result, the UFC gave Velasquez a quick road back to a championship fight. Following a win over Antonio Silva, Velasquez was pegged as the top heavyweight contender, and he ended up making the most of the chance that came with that distinction.
With 2012 now in the books for the UFC, let's take a look at who could be next for Velasquez and all the UFC 155 competitors.
After a win in his flyweight debut, Chris Cariaso had a chance to become a contender in one of the UFC's newest division. However, the 31-year-old will have to make some adjustments to make that happen after suffering a submission loss to John Moraga at UFC 155.
Though Yasuhiro Urushitani has lost his first two UFC bouts, the former Shooto champion is too well known to compete against non-veterans at this point in his career. A bout with Cariaso would provide both fighters with an evenly matched bout and a chance to get back into the win column.
With his submission victory over Chris Cariaso at UFC 155, John Moraga has now finished his first two opponents inside the Octagon. In a developing flyweight division, that makes him a fighter to watch as a potential title contender in the near future.
Darren Uyenoyama, who is also undefeated inside the Octagon after his first two UFC bouts, could be next for Moraga. The jiu-jitsu black belt has the grappling to test Moraga by forcing him to fight off his back for an extended period of time.
Though he has lost four straight fights, Leonard Garcia put on a show in defeat once again at UFC 155.
The Greg Jackson-trained fighter stood toe-to-toe with Max Holloway for three rounds before falling in a controversial decision.
Against just about any opponent who isn't a one-dimensional wrestler, Garcia is one of the most entertaining fighters in all of MMA. A bout with Cole Miller could produce a Fight of the Night candidate.
With two UFC wins at 21 years old, Max Holloway looks to be a future MMA star. However, his competitive fight with the sloppy Leonard Garcia showed he could still tighten up his striking.
Nonetheless, another victory allows Holloway to move forward in the featherweight division.
A bout with Pablo Garza, who is coming off a win over Mark Hominick, could make sense in Holloway's progression toward the top of the 145-pound weight class.
Phil De Fries had some success against Todd Duffee from the clinch and on the ground, but he had no answer for his opponent's speed from distance.
As he attempts to climb out of the heavyweight division's basement, a bout with Dave Herman could make sense for both fighters heading into 2013.
With three straight losses, a bout with De Fries would indicate whether Herman belongs on the UFC roster. At the same time, a bout with Herman would give De Fries a realistic chance to avoid losing back-to-back fights.
Todd Duffee made a big splash in his return to the Octagon, putting Phil De Fries away with punches in the opening round.
While Duffee isn't really deserving of a fight with a heavyweight contender, Shane Carwin has been out of action for 18 months, so he probably shouldn't dive back into competition with elite heavyweights at this point.
A matchup with Duffee would ease Carwin back into fighting, while it would also be an intriguing bout between two of the most athletic big men in the sport.
Michael Johnson looked to be on his way toward becoming a lightweight contender prior to UFC 155. However, on Saturday, Johnson was controlled by Myles Jury for almost three entire rounds.
Like Johnson, Mark Bocek was also heading toward the top of the 155-pound weight class before being dominated in his most recent fight against Rafael dos Anjos.
Matching Johnson and Bocek against one another would give one fighter an opportunity to bounce back and start a new winning streak.
Myles Jury scored a big win over Michael Johnson at UFC 155, but he'll need another impressive victory to prove the upset was no fluke.
If Jury is as dominant against an opponent like John Makdessi as he was against Johnson, the former TUF contestant could find himself with a chance to compete against a fringe contender in the 155-pound division.
With losses in four of his past five fights, Melvin Guillard needs to take a step back from competing against highly ranked lightweights.
A fight with Mac Danzig would give Guillard a chance to get back into the win column, while it would also provide Danzig with the step up in competition one could say he deserves after fighting to a split decision with Takanori Gomi.
After a long layoff, Byron Bloodworth returned to the Octagon with a tough opponent standing across the cage from him. Despite a loss to Erik Perez at UFC 155, his second in as many UFC bouts, Bloodworth should get one last chance to prove himself in the world's premier MMA organization.
A loser-leaves-town fight between Bloodworth and Jeff Hougland, who has also lost two straight fights, would allow the UFC to open up a spot on the bantamweight roster for new talent.
Erik Perez has recorded three first-round stoppages in his first three UFC bouts. At this point, the 23-year-old is beginning to look like a future contender in the bantamweight division.
It is tempting to match him up with a top 135-pound fighter right now, but the Mexican bantamweight is still young and should be brought along slowly.
A bout with Hugo Viana, who has won his first two fights inside the Octagon, would be the right move for Perez's progression as a fighter.
Brad Pickett's woes against elite bantamweight continued at UFC 155, as he lost to Eddie Wineland. But the British fighter has earned himself a spot on the UFC roster for as long as he can remain competitive due to his entertaining fighting style.
Obviously, Pickett will have to take a step down in competition, but he should still receive a notable opponent. A bout with the loser of a fight between Yuri Alcantara and George Roop, two fighters moving from featherweight to bantamweight, would make sense for Pickett's next appearance.
Eddie Wineland has separated himself as one of the top contenders in the bantamweight division. Unfortunately, there is traffic on the path to a 135-pound title shot right now.
At the moment, Raphael Assuncao is the highest-ranked bantamweight without a scheduled bout to have won his last fight. For that reason, there's a good chance the Brazilian will be next for Wineland.
A long absence from competition likely factored into a disappointing loss for Chris Leben at UFC 155. As a result of his defeat, Leben is probably going to have to face low-level middleweights until he gets himself back on track.
With a fight between Daniel Sarafian and C.B. Dollaway coming up at UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping, Leben could be lined up to meet the loser of that matchup in spring of 2013.
Former Strikeforce fighter Derek Brunson picked up a big win in his UFC debut, out-wrestling Chris Leben en route to a decision victory.
Despite the win, Brunson will probably remain somewhat of an unknown fighter until he picks up a memorable finish.
Serving a suspension for a failed drug test (via MMAFighting.com), Jake Shields is likely to receive a punishment from the UFC via a fight with a non-contender. A bout with a fellow grappler like Brunson could also force the usually lackluster middleweights into a striking match.
Tim Boetsch and Alan Belcher suffered deflating losses in their respective bouts with Costa Philippou and Yushin Okami at UFC 155, but they remain among the best in the middleweight division.
By matching Boetsch and Belcher against one another, the UFC can assure one of the two gets back on track and keeps the middleweight contender pool deep.
Costa Philippou emerged from UFC 155 the newest contender in the 185-pound division. But he does need another win to solidify himself as an elite middleweight and to prove his victory over Tim Boetsch was not a fluke resulting from an inadvertent eye poke.
Yushin Okami also proved he is still one of the top middleweights in the world by dominating Alan Belcher on the ground. Since he's already lost to champion Anderson Silva, Okami would be a good contender to test Philippou, as he won't be fighting for the title anytime soon.
It really doesn't matter who the UFC matches Joe Lauzon up against. He's going to find a way to drag his opponents into a highly entertaining fight.
However, he will need to take a step down in competition following a loss to Jim Miller at UFC 155.
A grappling match with the loser of an upcoming bout between Thiago Tavares and Khabib Nurmagomedov would be intriguing.
Jim Miller and Jamie Varner delivered strong performances on Saturday, defeating Joe Lauzon and Melvin Guillard, respectively.
While it may not seem ideal for Miller to now fight an opponent Lauzon just defeated, Varner is the best option for his next appearance.
Miller has already lost to a number of the lightweights ranked above him and could use another win or two before receiving a rematch against an elite 155-pound fighter.
Junior dos Santos' reign as heavyweight champion was cut short by Cain Velasquez in the UFC 155 main event. Having a win over Velasquez already under his belt, though, Dos Santos is a big win or two away from a rubber match.
Assuming he beats Nandor Guelmino in his final Strikeforce fight, Josh Barnett will likely join the UFC roster and could make for an interesting opponent in Dos Santos' attempt to return to title contention.
With the belt back around his waist, Cain Velasquez awaits the next top contender in the heavyweight division.
At heavyweight, the biggest fight coming up in the near future is between Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva. Should Overeem win that fight, since Velasquez just dominated Silva, the Dutchman would almost surely become Velasquez's first challenger in his second reign as champion.