Stipe Miocic destroyed Fabio Maldonado at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil Season 3 finale.
It was the expected result. Miocic is a top-10 heavyweight, and Maldonado is a middling light heavyweight. An injury to No. 2-ranked Junior dos Santos forced the UFC into this position, but the result was a mismatch.
Now the UFC has to decide what to do with Miocic.
There are few options. He is a top-10-ranked heavyweight on a win streak. The opponents for him are hard to find in a depleted division. When you look at the rankings, three names should jump off the page.
Let's take a look at the best three options for Miocic's next bout inside the Octagon.
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva was suspended for nine months following a positive test for elevated testosterone after his epic battle with Mark Hunt. He will be cleared for action later this year.
Why does he make sense when he isn't on a win streak? He is ranked as the No. 4 contender in the division. Some might put Travis Browne in this slot—and that would be a good fight—but he and Miocic are in similar spots.
Silva will test Miocic on the feet and ground, but ultimately, he is a hittable target for the Ohioan.
It is a good fight to firmly cement the winner in the top five.
Want a test for Miocic? Josh Barnett is the man to call.
He has been around the sport for a long time, and he has all the tools to test Miocic. Also, he can market the fight to make the casual fans care about it. That may be more important in today's UFC heavyweight division.
Barnett has not been seen in quite some time, but he remains ranked at No. 5 in the division—thus making him a quality option for Miocic's next bout.
Miocic has to meet a top-five-ranked fighter. Barnett fits the bill.
Junior dos Santos
Ultimately, this has to be the choice.
It is the fight that both men need and the fight that Miocic still wants. It makes the most sense all around.
Dos Santos needs to get back in the cage against quality opposition if he ever hopes to challenge for the title again, and Miocic needs a signature win against a top-flight opponent to put his name among the elite of the division.
The performance at UFC Fight Night 41 was near pointless. It was a mismatch. Dos Santos is exactly the opponent Miocic needs, and vice versa. It's the right choice.
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