A few months ago, if you had said that there would have been a logjam of possible and suitable opponents to contend for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight title -- and Chael Sonnen wouldn't even be one of them -- most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans would have called you crazy.
Additionally, veterans like Michael Bisping, Brian Stann, Vitor Belfort and Rich Franklin are waiting in the wings, relishing the opportunity to bridge the gap at the first chance or sign of weakness from the fighters ahead of them in line.
At this point in time, it's anyone's guess who has "dibs" on the next title shot versus "The Spider," and that was further complicated when UFC newcomer Hector Lombard came nowhere near to living up to the hype in his promotional debut, a loss to Boetsch at UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on July 21, 2012.
So, who's got next? Will it be the winner of Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann at UFC 152 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 22, 2012? Is a middleweight tournament a real possibility? And just how much did "Lightning's" stock drop with his loss at UFC 149?
All that and more after the jump:
UFC President Dana White was recently interviewed by "Inside MMA's" Ron Kruck, where he gave his scathing review of the event, in general.
He started off by voicing his displeasure with Lombard and tossing out a backhanded compliment to "The Barbarian:"
"I thought so. I thought the fight was brutal. All the hype, he's coming in off a 25-fight win streak. But, I guess we saw a glimpse of the future, and I guess it's Tim Boetsch."
White continued to state just how bummed he was with the UFC 149 results, record breaking numbers and all:
"I like breaking records, and tonight, we broke the gate record here at this arena. The biggest gate in the history of the arena, we smoked 'The Rolling Stones,' and I'm actually embarrassed by it, instead of excited and happy and proud. The UFC came in, we put together this card, that was a good card with talented people. My guys didn't show up. They didn't deliver tonight. Without being too negative here, the undercard delivered big time."
Heading into this past weekend, Dana made some comments that had our own Tom Myers wondering if a UFC middleweight tournament might be a real possibility.
After the event, White was so disgusted that he refused to even answer questions about the announcement he had originally planned to make, but could Tommy have been on to something?
"I did have a gameplan and some thing that were gonna be fun. We're still gonna do it, just not the way I was gonna do it before. Things are gonna change. I love it when guys come out, and they're claiming that they want a shot at the title, they wanna be a world champion, and they come out, and they win convincingly. You can't always do it. It doesn't always happen, but the performance that I saw tonight, honestly? Even though Boetsch won, and Boetsch is this incredible underdog that came up out of nowhere, now beating Okami and beating Lombard -- this guy is gonna be ranked in a serious position now. So, good for him. He's earned it. He deserves it, but I'm looking for guys like Weidman. Weidman comes out and destroys the number two, number three guy in the world and is ready to fight anybody, anytime, anywhere. He took the Demian Maia fight on short notice and cut 30 pounds to get ready for it, and I was looking at this thing, and every fight can't be the fight you expect it to be, but that was nothing I expected."