With his title hopes currently on hold, Shane Carwin is in limbo.
Carwin's last bout was a first round TKO victory over Gabriel Gonzaga in early March. Eight months have passed, and Carwin has yet to see the inside of the octagon again.
Carwin was originally slated to take on fellow up-and-comer Cain Velasquez; that match was scrapped in favor of a shot at the UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
That match was set to headline UFC 106, but due to Lesnar's recent ill health, their bout has been put on hold.
All these changes have left Carwin in a less than advantageous situation.
First, Carwin has essentially lost his title shot, and second, the majority of top heavyweights in the UFC are set to take on other opponents.
What's the next best move for Carwin?
It has been reported that Gabriel Gonzaga has been forced to pull out of his UFC 108 bout with fast rising sensation Junior Dos Santos due to a staph infection in his elbow—a perfect opportunity for Carwin to step up and fill in on short notice.
While it would not be a title shot, it would be an opportunity for Carwin to square off against another name opponent. Considering that Lesnar will likely be on the road to recovery for the next six months to a year, if he ever returns, Carwin needs to move on. The longer he is kept in this state of flux, the more time the rest of the division has an opportunity to overtake his position in the title picture.
In a perfect world, the UFC would use the Velasquez-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira bout and this potential Carwin-Dos Santos fight as a mini interim title tournament. Then once Lesnar is healthy and ready to return, the UFC could set up a title unification bout.
The creation of an interim title would do two things for the UFC. First, it keeps the division relevant with fans while Lesnar is recovering. Second, it provides the UFC with a vehicle to keep the hungry contenders satisfied and gives them a chance to earn their spots on the ladder.
A bout between Dos Santos and Carwin simply makes too much sense. The fans should want it because it is an interesting matchup. The UFC should want it because they need a solid co-main event for UFC 108.