Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira impressed Saturday night, when he defied expectations by beating up-and-comer Brendan Schaub.
What's more, is he did it by brutal first-round knockout.
Schaub was seen as a candidate for the top contender slot, and his loss catapults Nogueira back into contender status.
In the UFC, Nogueira has actually performed fairly well. He won the interim heavyweight belt from Tim Sylvia, and he's only lost to Mir and Velasquez, two top five fighters in the heavyweight division.
If the timing were different, a rematch with Mir would be the match to make. He was hugely injured going into the first fight, so a rematch after he has regained full health and scored a first-round knockout would be appealing.
Unfortunately, the timing doesn't make that feasible.
Frank Mir is the closest heavyweight to a title shot after JDS right now, and a loss to Nogueira would confuse the title picture greatly.
Nogueira probably wouldn't fight JDS, and was so recently knocked out by Velasquez that that fight would lack appeal.
But there'd be no other top heavyweights coming off a win and I'm sure Dana White and Joe Silva would try to avoid this scenario.
Instead, the UFC should give Nogueira a fight against someone who isn't quite so close to a title shot. Brock Lesnar is the most likely possibility.
What the UFC shouldn't do is put Nogueira in gatekeeper status. Frankly, he's too good for it.
Before this most recent fight, most people would have Schaub ranked as the No. 6 heavyweight in the UFC, only behind the four horsemen and Frank Mir. He was probably going to get the next title shot, or at least be in a No.1 contender fight with Mir.
Nogueira just beat Schaub, took his place in the rankings, and is in a similar place that he was.
He isn't primed for a title shot, but he's a clear notch above most of the fighters below him. The hype surrounding him right now is as good as it has been in a while, and it would be foolish to waste him on lower-level heavyweights.
Overeem is expected to fight at UFC 140. As the former Strikefroce heavyweight champion, he could probably get to a title shot in just one UFC win. A top contender fight with Frank Mir makes the most sense.
Elsewhere in the division, Schaub would probably end up fighting Carwin, since they're both coming off losses and neither can instantly ascend to contender status again.
I personally think that Big Nog's victory helped improve the division. A loss for Schaub doesn't wipe him out completely from the heavyweight picture, whereas that's exactly what a loss for Nogueira would've done.
With his win, a name has been added to the list of heavyweight contenders.
Expect the next year to be a very interesting year for heavyweights. Velasquez and Dos Santos will have their fight, Overeem will make his entrance, Lesnar will make his return, and each contender will try to close the perceived gap in skill between the top two heavyweights and everyone else.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!