UFC 166 did not go as planned for former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos.
Cain Velasquez successfully defended his title by mauling the challenger—just as he did in their second fight. This time, though, Velasquez got the stoppage.
There is little doubt that Dos Santos will move back in the pack now. After two decisive and one-sided beatings, it will take quite a bit to earn another title shot, but that could be a blessing in disguise. If Dos Santos is able to return to form, it may take time coming off the beating he just received.
So, who should Cigano fight in his next outing?
The first thing that must happen is a decision on what the plan is. Do you throw Dos Santos right back into a top-five or top-10 fight? I don't think that's smart.
He won't be contending for a title shot with a win. Dos Santos should take a backseat and work his way through the ranks against unranked fighters to get back in the grove he was once in. Also, there are several interesting matchups for Cigano to have in non-title bouts.
That is where Alistair Overeem comes in.
Overeem is in a potential do-or-die fight with Frank Mir at UFC 167, but win or lose, a fight against Cigano makes a lot of sense. The UFC may think about cutting him with a loss, but should a loss occur, it needs to think hard about keeping him on the roster for at least one more scrap.
Dos Santos and Overeem were originally slated to meet for the UFC Heavyweight Championship, but the fight never came to fruition. It was a matchup that excited most fans, and with both so far removed from a title fight, why not do it now?
The fight would still garner a substantial amount of fanfare. Also, it would likely be very exciting.
It would be the right fight for Dos Santos to return to.
Cigano would benefit from a favorable matchup, face a fighter with name value and be motivated to fight him. It would be a perfect storm to slowly bring Dos Santos back up to speed in the heavyweight division.
Overeem wouldn't smother him like Velasquez. We would get to see these two do what they do best.
There is no need to thrust Dos Santos back into the forefront of the division without knowing how he will look coming off such a loss at UFC 166. Likewise, the UFC cannot give him a newcomer for him to hammer. Overeem meets the necessary criteria.
It would be a good fight for Dos Santos, Overeem, the UFC and a great fight for the fans.