Alistair Overeem's loss at UFC 156 did more than just put him much further down the line in the heavyweight title picture—it also left a gaping hole regarding who will actually be next to face champion Cain Velasquez later this year.
With a win, Overeem would have been locked in to face Velasquez in the next few months, but after suffering a knockout to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, it's opened up a big question about the next contender in the division.
Velasquez could face off with former champion Junior dos Santos, who he beat for the title to close out 2012, which nodded their series of fights at one a piece. Dos Santos knocked out Velasquez in 2011 at the first ever UFC on Fox show in California.
The only other name that is on the radar currently when it comes to the upper echelon of the UFC heavyweight division is recent Strikeforce transfer Daniel Cormier.
The former Olympian comes into the UFC with a flawless record as he gets ready to face former heavyweight champion Frank Mir at UFC on Fox 7 on April 20. Cormier has stated several times that he will fight Mir and then wants to drop weight classes and challenge UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones later in the year.
The reason for the move comes large in part because Cormier and Velasquez are teammates and friends working at American Kickboxing Academy. They have both stated in the past they have no desire to fight each other, and chances are a showdown between teammates would never happen.
UFC President Dana White is in the same boat because he doesn't think Cormier would challenge his friend and teammate, even with a title on the line, but that doesn't mean it's out of the realm of possibility.
"I would be shocked if Cormier came out and fought Mir and beat Mir and said, 'Now I want Cain Velasquez,' I'd be shocked if that happened. I would see him coming out and saying I want to go to 205 before that but he's never said that to me just so you know," White said following the UFC 156 post-fight press conference on Saturday night.
"From what I understand, Cain and Cormier would fight each other, from what I understand, but I would be shocked if he did. I mean those guys were in there hugging for 15 minutes after (Velasquez) won the title, but who knows. They're serious guys and like I always say it's all about proving who the best is, and that guy might be my friend, but he's got what I want, and I know what I get when I get that belt."
White believes the prospect of becoming a UFC champion can change minds pretty rapidly, and every fighter wants to be the best in their division. It's no different with Daniel Cormier
"Cause all the guys who have a champ in their camp they see how these guys live and what the deal is when you have that belt," said White. "When you have that belt, it's a whole other ball game."
The timing problem could intervene faster than anything in this situation. Cormier doesn’t debut in the UFC against Frank Mir until April 20, and with Velasquez last fighting in December 2012, it's unlikely the UFC will want to sit and wait for another heavyweight title fight until late in 2013.
The more likely scenario is for Velasquez to find a challenger and return in early summer to defend his belt, and it could end up being the third fight against dos Santos unless another contender emerges soon.
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