Junior dos Santos has given us unforgettable fights over the past few years.
From a storied trilogy opposite UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez to a highlight-reel knockout of the uber-popular Mark Hunt, "Cigano" has been one of the promotion's biggest draws.
But as dominant and effective as dos Santos has been on his feet, the Brazilian has simply been unable to thwart the momentum and drive of Velasquez.
This sort of limbo is not good for a 29-year-old superstar currently competing in the prime of his career. He's too good to fight practically any other fighter in the division, but not good enough to fight for another title as long as Velasquez holds the belt.
However, on the heels of scintillating performances, two prime opponents have emerged to challenge the tenured veteran for heavyweight supremacy sometime in 2014.
"I don’t know what’s next for me, and I don’t choose opponents," said dos Santos, originally reported by MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz. "I’ll be ready for anyone, but I believe my next opponent can be either Josh Barnett or Travis Browne."
Barnett and Browne are scheduled to do battle later this month as part of UFC 168's stacked main card.
After a remarkable come-from-behind knockout over Alistair Overeem, "Hapa" is looking to take that next step in his career. Fighting a borderline heavyweight legend like Barnett, who just made quick work of divisional gatekeeper Frank Mir back at UFC 164, gives him that chance.
"I believe it would (make sense to fight Barnett or Browne next)," added dos Santos. "The heavyweight division is in a great moment right now. We have great fighters, and you never know what’s going to happen in a heavyweight fight. One punch can change everything."
As two of the most effective and crafted heavyweights in the sport, Barnett and Browne could produce a fight similar to the one that Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Mark Hunt just put on. Either way, JDS will be ready.
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