At UFC 131: "Dos Santos vs. Carwin" last Saturday night (June 11) in Vancouver, surging middleweight contender Mark Munoz narrowly defeated Demian Maia to win a unanimous decision and inch ever so closer to a 185-pound title shot.
But how close is he?
After a stunning head kick knockout to Matt Hamill in his Octagon debut just over two years ago at UFC 96: "Jackson vs. Jardine," Munoz has posted a 6-1 record with three stoppages.
The lone blemish on his resume since his drop to middleweight is a close split decision loss to current division number one contender Yushin Okami, who battles Anderson Silva for the strap at UFC 134: "Rio" on August 27 in Brazil.
His win over a surprisingly game Maia coupled with the shallow talent pool that comprises the 185-pound division should put him at or near the top of the list, but promotion president Dana White tells media members at the UFC 131 post-fight press conference he doesn't know (yet) if "The Philippine Wrecking Machine" has earned himself a title shot:
"How close is he for a title shot? I don't know the answer to that question. He's definitely on a great win streak and beating Demian Maia's a big deal. It was a good tough fight tonight. You know it's funny because Demian Maia looked awesome. The fact that he beat Demian Maia, and the fact that he beat Demian the way that Demian fought tonight was unbelievable. ... Maia came out guns a-blazing, he looked awesome tonight, he came ready to fight and it was a war. I was very impressed. To win (with) the way that Demian Maia fought tonight... we'll see what happens."
With "The Spider's" next title defense just over two months away, it's likely Munoz will have to compete again while the division sorts itself out.
Michael Bisping has also won three straight and defeating "Mayhem" Miller at the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 could make a strong argument for his place in line. Wanderlei Silva would only have two consecutive wins if he beats Chris Leben at UFC 132 and may need to settle his score with Vitor Belfort before advancing to the role of contender.
That leaves ... well, not many.
Okay Maniacs, let's hear your thoughts on this one. Is Munoz next in line for the title? Or does he have one more hurdle to clear?