Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will put on a heavyweight mash up of epic proportions when current champion Cain Velasquez defends his belt against Junior dos Santos at UFC on FOX 1 in Anaheim, Calif., on Sat., Nov. 12, 2011.
It is a fight that mixed martial arts (MMA) fans have looked forward to for some time now. It may end up being the most high-profile heavyweight fight in the history of the UFC because it will air live on network television, serving as the conduit to convert millions of unsuspecting mainstream fans into loyal, long-term supporters.
When the Octagon door slams shut, the world will witness two of the most well-rounded, 265-pound fighters who have ever fought under the Zuffa banner. But then when, "IT'S ALL OVER," the debate will soon begin to swirl:
Who got next?
The first option is the least exciting, so let's get it out of the way.
There is a possibility that when the fight between Velasquez and dos Santos is over, fans will still wanting more of the same. If it isn't decisive, be prepared for UFC President Dana White to run it back. It doesn't happen often, but it's not outside the realm of possibility (see Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard 2).
Meanwhile, former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem is adamant that the winner of his fight with former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas, Nevada, will receive an instant title shot with whoever happens to be the champion at that time.
It's tough to argue with that kind of a match up. Lesnar fought Velasquez once before and got bludgeoned. The storyline of redemption in a potential rematch would be a huge seller. Really, any combination of the four of them, respectively (Velasquez, dos Santos, Lesnar and Overeem) would garner a ton of pay-per-view (PPV) buys.
A less enticing pairing may include the winner of Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira when the two square off at UFC 140 on Dec. 10 in Toronto. For this to happen, we'd either have to see a very unimpressive winner in the bout between Overeem and Lesnar, or an injury would have to occur.
Inside the UFC, there's not a lot more to offer. Roy Nelson is available and would love a title shot, but let's not get crazy. He'll need another impressive win before that conversation could even happen.
And what about Strikeforce? Is it sticking around? Is the promotion on borrowed time?
If San Jose, Calif.-based promotion really does bite the dust in the next 12 to 18 months (as many believe that it will), the winner of the heavyweight grand prix, which features Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier, may be "in the mix," too.
There are clear front runners, as well as dark horses. Factor in misfortune in the form of injuries, which has been a thorn in the side UFC matchmaker Joe Silva seemingly the entire 2011 fight season, and it's possible that any of the aforementioned fighters will be called upon to step up next.
Who do you think will ultimately fight the Velasquez-dos Santos next?