At Saturday's post-UFC 97 press conference, Dana White discussed that Cheick Kongo is in the UFC Heavyweight hunt…
"Yeah I think he is a top contender. I think Cheick Kongo's win [over Hardonk], you know, he's in the mix. Getting the next title shot, I can't answer that question right now. But there's no doubt he's in the mix."
Kongo is 14-4-1 overall and 7-2 in the UFC, including winning five of his last six fights. His only loss in those last six fights was to Heath Herring, via split decision.
Who else is deserves consideration?
The battle between Couture and Noguiera may be for a title shot, based on name value.
Also, the fact that Randy is signed for one more fight after UFC 102 may play a role in the decision. You can't argue if the UFC wants to make it a huge one.
There wouldn't be many heavyweight fights bigger than Randy vs. Brock II or Couture/ Mir, at this present time.
So all business aside, who should get the next shot?
Cheick Kongo has won three straight fights by TKO in impressive fashion.
He dismantled Antoni Hardonk, who is known for his striking. Well here, Kongo made him look like an amateur.
With training partners like Michael Bisping, Rampage, Paul Kelly and more at the Wolfslair, Kongo has championship level people around him to help him prepare to get to the next level.
Due to his performances and recent record, you can't argue someone else is more deserving of a title shot after the Mir/ Lesnar rematch.
But let's see who else is contending, and as Dana put, is "in the mix."
This monster is probably the closest person to Kongo for a title shot.
He sports an 11-0 record (4-0 in the UFC) with all his fights in the octagon being stopped in the 1st round.
Experience would be his only blemish to not receiving an immediate title shot right now.
That and the fact that, other than Gabriel Gonzaga, he hasn't fought any top tier talent yet.
Carwin will surely have a crack at the belt by 2010, most likely after another fight or two.
I'm sure the UFC is preparing him for a super showdown with Lesnar, as many within MMA feel that would be Brock's biggest test right now, other than Mir of course.
Junior Dos Santos
The surprising heavyweight could be another title contender in the future.
He is 2-0 in the UFC and pretty much took Fabricio Werdum's "spot" after a shocking 1st round KO.
After that, a "promised" title shot was gone just like Werdum's UFC career.
What followed for Dos Santos was a 1st round TKO over Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve.
The potential is there. A few more fights and he could be in top contention.
I wouldn't be too surprised to see Dos Santos Vs. Herring, Gonzaga, Carwin or Velasquez in the near future.
Junior needs a top name on his win list before climbing the championship ladder.
This young talented heavyweight is another talked about threat to Brock Lesnar's title.
With a 5-0 record in the UFC, Velasquez will be fighting the toughest opponent of his career at UFC 99 in the veteran Heath Herring.
Cain is a beast who has been spoken about, with praise, for a while. He has yet to disappoint as he has not been tested inside the octagon.
The only issue is the same as the previously mentioned fighters, lack of experience. If he gets by a game Herring, he too could be one or two fights away from attempting to become a champion.
So here are some match ideas for the future
Lesnar Vs. Mir II (UFC Heavyweight Championship) UFC 100
Couture Vs. Noguiera (If Randy wins, he gets the next title shot) UFC 102
Kongo gets the winner of Mir/ Lesnar (if Noguiera defeats Couture)
Kongo Vs. Carwin for No. 1 contender (If Randy defeats Nog)
Other possible bouts
Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez (if Cain gets by Herring)
Gonzaga Vs. Noguiera (If Nog loses to Couture) I think that would be a pretty good fight, especially for "Napoa."
Just some ideas on what could come to pass in the future of the UFC's heavyweight division.
Whethere anyone here will actually win the title is another story.
Derek Bedell writes at 411mania.com. You can read the rest of the article here which covers all of MMA's top stories: