Renan Barao defended his UFC Bantamweight Championship successfully at UFC 169, and now the UFC has to decide what is next for the king of the division.
Barao, now the undisputed champion, took care of business on Saturday.
The champion defended the belt against the man he bested for the interim UFC Bantamweight Championship, Urijah Faber. Herb Dean stepped in to save Faber in the first round after Barao had dropped him twice and was leveling hammerfists into the side of the head as "The California Kid" tried to cover up.
Here are three fighters the UFC could put into the title mix right away.
This likely won't happen, but the list of potential contenders is not long at 135.
Faber will not drop far in the rankings. The ending was somewhat controversial, and the division needs more time to work itself out.
With a TKO finish on Saturday, a third bout between them may be a hard sell.
Faber is still the star of the division, and that has to count for something. The end to the fight on Saturday will allow him to continue to sell himself as a title contender. After several unsuccessful title challenges, he at least remains in the mix at 135.
Dillashaw is ranked No. 5 in the division, and he wasn't the first to come to mind in the list of contenders. However, his teammate Faber gave him a shoutout at the end of UFC 169 to sell him a bit.
The 9-2 fighter has shown a lot of improvement over the past two years since coming off The Ultimate Fighter. Since losing the finale to John Dodson, he is 5-1 inside the Octagon. His most recent outing was a decision win over Mike Easton.
The timing is beneficial for him, and the name-drop from Faber puts him in prime position to challenge for the title if the UFC wants to use him.
The star of the division is pushing his teammate, and the UFC should be glad. The promotion needs challengers at 135.
Assuncao first has to get past Francisco Rivera at UFC 170 on February 22, but if he is successful, then he should be next in line.
He is ranked No. 3 in the division, but No. 2-ranked Michael McDonald is coming off a loss to Faber.
The Brazilian has five consecutive wins, and a victory at UFC 170 will make six straight. That win streak will be hard for the UFC to deny him a title shot. The Brazilian vs. Brazilian matchup would likely be a good main event for a card in Brazil later in 2014.
This is the UFC's most likely option. The bantamweight division is still a work-in-progress, and Assuncao is the leader in the clubhouse for the next shot at gold.