Randy Couture has resigned. Andrei Arlovski has one fight left on his current deal. Gabriel Gonzaga is a one-kick wonder. Mirko Cro Cop is lost. Brandon Vera just lost.
What's all that mean?
It means that Fabricio Werdum -- with his technical knockout of Gonzaga at UFC 80: "Rapid Fire" this weekend -- perhaps locked up a title shot against the winner of the interim championship between Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81: "Breaking Point" on February 2.
Uh-huh -- the same man who was berated for his lackluster losing performance against Arlovski at UFC 70: "Nations Collide" during his Octagon debut in April 2007.
What a difference one fight -- and a wild set of circumstances -- makes.
Make no mistake: Werdum is a top-ranked fighter. He is without question among the ten best in the sport in the weight class. It's just odd that he perhaps has a chance at the crown with just two UFC fights to his credit (one of which he lost).
Furthermore, he's not been heavily marketed nor do most casual fans even know he exists.
But again, it's apparently slim pickins' in a division that seemed to undergo a nice renaissance just about one year ago. The only other options include the winners of the bouts between Cheick Kongo-Heath Herring and Frank Mir-Brock Lesnar.
If Mir and Sylvia both win then that rematch seems to make the most sense -- Mir broke Sylvia's forearm in a fight for the championship in 2004. However, the likelihood of that happening is far from guaranteed.
With an impressive win Lesnar could be another option, but he'd get owned on the ground against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu stud like Nogueira. The UFC wouldn't want to jeopardize his broad appeal, either. Lesnar can put butts in the seats if he racks up some wins.
Might as well cash-in while it's possible.
The best option, however, is to line up Werdum against either the winner of the Cheick Kongo-Heath Herring or Frank Mir-Brock Lesnar fights to determine a number one contender.
Or just pray Couture accepts the fight instead (he will be offered it).
What a mess.