After originally scheduled opponent Rashad Evans went down due to injury, Daniel Cormier had a nice warm-up to start his light heavyweight career on Saturday.
The former heavyweight met replacement adversary Patrick Cummins, who did his best to rile up "DC" before suffering an inevitable loss. In a rather weak co-main event for a pay-per-view card, Cormier steamrolled Cummins to remain undefeated inside the Octagon.
Since he was already established as a contender in the heavyweight division, Cormier was expected to meet the 205-pound division's best right away. However, UFC matchmakers can go several different directions with him following his UFC 170 outing.
Here are the five most likely opponents for Cormier after his victory over Cummins.
Having been out of action since February 2013, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira isn't riding the same momentum as Daniel Cormier's other potential opponents.
Still, he is coming off of back-to-back wins over Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz, so the Brazilian would be a worthy adversary. Nogueira's mix of boxing and jiu-jitsu would also make him an intriguing stylistic matchup for the boxing and wrestling possessed by Cormier.
That said, it would probably take an injury or two for this fight to come to fruition. "DC" looks to be one win away from a shot at UFC gold, and Nogueira doesn't seem to be the ideal opponent for him to take that final step.
In April, Phil Davis will welcome World Series of Fighting veteran Anthony Johnson back to the Octagon.
A former welterweight, "Rumble" has found a new home at 205 pounds. With six straight wins, Johnson was ready to be tested by a highly ranked UFC light heavyweight right away. If he beats Davis, the Blackzilian fighter would be near the front of the line for a shot at a UFC championship.
Coming off of a victory over former titleholder Lyoto Machida, Phil Davis is already holding a spot near the front of that waiting line for a chance at UFC gold. Beating Johnson would put him a step closer, but he still doesn't seem to be getting as much attention as Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier.
If the winner of a bout between Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa gets the next crack at the 205-pound title, Cormier could meet the victor of this matchup between Davis and Johnson in a title shot eliminator.
If Alexander Gustafsson beats Jimi Manuwa in March, he'll be set up for a rematch with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
However, things could quickly get interesting should Glover Teixeira beat Jones in April or battle to a controversial decision with the titleholder. An immediate rematch between Jones and Teixeira would leave Gustafsson or upcoming opponent Jimi Manuwa waiting too long and could force the winner of their matchup to take another fight before getting a shot at the 205-pound championship.
Should that happen, Cormier would be the most likely candidate to meet the winner of the bout between Gustafsson and Manuwa.
With their developing rivalry, a bout between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier would be one of the most interesting matchups the UFC could make in the light heavyweight division.
If Jones somehow loses decisively to Glover Teixeira in April and isn't awarded an immediate rematch, he could fall into a fight with Cormier. The matchup would quite obviously put both fighters within one victory of a shot at UFC gold.
Should Teixeira become Jones' latest victim, he'd then be a good opponent for Cormier. If Cormier were able to beat the Brazilian as decisively as Jones, it'd make him look like that much more of a threat to the 205-pound champion.
The last and most readily apparent option for Daniel Cormier's next adversary is to rebook the matchup with Rashad Evans.
It was a fight that most were very excited about, but it was robbed away by an Evans injury at the last second. According to ESPN.com, Evans is expected to be out six months as he recovers from knee surgery.
While it may seem silly for Cormier to wait around for Evans while there are other options available, "DC" isn't likely to be fighting for a belt soon anyway. The title fight between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira is still two months away, and the winner of the matchup between Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa isn't going to get their shot until several months later.
Under the unsafe assumption that Jones remains champion through his next two fights, a title shot eliminator between Cormier and Evans is ideal. Both have developed heated rivalries with Jones, so the winner of a bout between the two would generate a sellable fight with the light heavyweight champion.