Chris Weidman shocked the world on Saturday night when he put together a quick four-punch combination to end the historic reign of Anderson Silva.
It took Weidman only 10 career fights and one bout against Silva to become the middleweight champion, and reach iconic status after stopping the fighter universally recognized as the best in the history of the sport.
Now with the middleweight gold wrapped firmly around his waist, Weidman will celebrate. That said, Weidman's ecstasy will be short-lived, as he will soon have to focus on what comes next.
A champion's life isn't built on winning the belt—it's defined by defending the gold.
Weidman's first title defense will likely come in pretty quick order given the fact that he finished Silva inside of two rounds and took no damage. Not only that, but Weidman sat out a year between waiting for this fight and dealing with shoulder surgery, so he probably doesn't want to sit on the sidelines for very long.
The most logical choice for Weidman's next fight is a repeat of the matchup he had tonight.
Silva was the UFC middleweight champion for seven years and 10 fights, and before this event ever started, UFC president Dana White promised Anderson an automatic rematch if he wanted it. After the fight, however, Silva sounded none too enthusiastic about battling for the belt again.
If that is the case and Silva really is removing himself from title contention, the next most logical No. 1 contender is UFC veteran and former light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort.
Belfort is coming off back-to-back, blistering victories over former Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold and top-10 contender Michael Bisping. Belfort's only loss at middleweight came in a fight with Silva over two years ago by way of an unorthodox rear front kick.
Vitor's use of testosterone replacement therapy will be a thorn in his side if he lands the title fight with Weidman, but if the UFC decides to make the fight, they will have already made sure that it won't be an issue come fight night.
Look for Weidman to re-enter the Octagon sooner rather than later, and for the man standing across the Octagon to be either Silva or Belfort. Weidman's opponent all comes down to Silva's ultimate decision, which the UFC will likely give him some time to make.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report