In mixed martial arts (MMA), fans and pundits alike always want to know what is next. Just moments after a fighter's glorious win inside the Octagon, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) analysts Joe Rogan or Jon Anik are asking the victor who they want to fight next in their post-fight interview.
With a special Sunday edition (Feb. 22, 2015) of fights on FOX Sports 1, fight fans will enjoy a full slate of action as UFC Fight Night 61 goes down from the Gigantinho Gymnasium in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
In the main event of the evening, heavyweight behemoths Antonio Silva and Frank Mir will face off in a battle of ranked fighters who have failed to win a bout in a combined seven fights. With both men hoping to stave off retirement talk, a win in Brazil is vital to their careers.
The co-main event features a much more important bout in terms of division rankings as No. 12-ranked lightweight Michael Johnson returns to the fold to take on Brazil's own Edson Barboza in a fight that has the masses giddy with excitement.
With plenty on the line for all four marquee competitors this weekend in Brazil, let's take a glimpse into the future and predict what a win could potentially do for their careers moving forward.
No matter the outcome on Sunday night, my hope is that former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir will opt to hang up his gloves -- and hopefully return to the broadcast booth where he shined with World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).
Following a devastating knockout loss to Shane Carwin back at UFC 111 in 2010, Mir reeled off three impressive victories over marquee names in Mirko Cro Cop, Roy Nelson, and arguably the greatest submission victory in the history of UFC over Minotauro Nogueira.
Since then, Mir has lost four straight: two decision losses to Alistair Overeem and Daniel Cormier, and two (technical) knockout losses to Josh Barnett and Junior Dos Santos.
Mir has taken a year off from competition since losing to Overeem last February, but he is stepping back into the Octagon for one last rodeo against "Bigfoot" Silva on Sunday.
If Mir is able to choke out Silva, it would be a wonderful cap to his career. The other, more unfortunate scenario, would be for Silva to finish Mir in violent fashion, forcing the former champ to retire on his shield a la Chuck Liddell before him.
In any case, I sincerely hope Sunday night is the final time Mir steps into the UFC Octagon. While a win would be great for his legacy, Mir has absolutely nothing to prove as a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
Speaking of fighters in desperate need for a win, "Bigfoot" has not earned a UFC victory since knocking out Alistair Overeem two years ago at UFC 156.
Since then, the Brazilian has been knocked out by Cain Velasquez and Andrei Arlovski, sandwiched by arguably the greatest heavyweight fight in UFC history as he fought to a draw against Mark Hunt -- only to have that fight marred once he tested positive for elevated testosterone.
Considering UFC's heavyweight division is arguably the thinnest in all of MMA, "Bigfoot" is still ranked No. 8, meaning a victory over Mir could kickstart another run to a UFC title shot -- although we all know that as long as Cain Velasquez is UFC champ, Silva is getting nowhere near UFC gold.
To be fair to Frank Mir, he and "Bigfoot" are both 35, but the reason I am calling for the former heavyweight champ to retire is the fact he has been knocked out seven times in his career, and has looked simply outclassed in his last four losses.
While I certainly would not be opposed to seeing Silva retire on Sunday night -- especially with a loss -- it seems that "Bigfoot" has a bit more left in the tank.
If the Brazilian wins on his home soil, I would be interested to see him fight Ben Rothwell next.
It has been quite some time since we have seen Michael Johnson enter the Octagon. The former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 12 runner-up has been out of action for nearly a year as he was being investigated for a "domestic dispute" that occurred in South Florida.
Johnson was recently re-instated by UFC brass, and will now be facing off against the dangerous striker Edson Barboza in enemy territory in hopes of earning a top-10 ranking when it is all said and done.
The American is currently riding an impressive three-fight winning streak over Joe Lauzon, Gleison Tibau, and Melvin Guillard, but one has to wonder whether or not his lengthy layoff will slow down Johnson's momentum come fight night.
If "The Menace" is unaffected by ring rust this Sunday night in Brazil, a victory could catapult Johnson into a high-profile affair that could potentially earn him a UFC title shot by the end of 2015.
If Johnson beats Barboza this weekend, I would love to see the former TUF standout take on the former UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson.
Ever since his violent, highlight-reel spinning wheel kick knockout over Terry Etim at UFC 142 in 2012, fight fans believed Edson Barboza could truly be the next great contender -- and possibly even champion -- in the lightweight division.
The Brazilian's title hopes were dashed in his very next fight, as former WEC champ Jamie Varner pulled off the monstrous upset over Barboza at UFC 146. Since then, "Junior" has won five of his last six -- including two straight victories.
While the No. 6-ranked lightweight has faltered against the elite of the elite -- namely a submission loss to Donald Cerrone last April -- Barboza has shown the ability to compete against the upper echelon of the division. The question still remains though, can Barboza defeat the top contenders the lightweight division has to offer.
While "Junior" is fighting someone ranked lower than him this Sunday, Michael Johnson is no easy opponent by any means, and if he is able to accrue a victory over the American in his native Brazil, Barboza could be fighting a top five contender next.
Who exactly would I like to see Barboza face off against next with a victory on Sunday? I still think Benson Henderson is the best option, but I certainly would not be opposed to a fight against Gilbert Melendez or Eddie Alvarez.
That's a wrap!
For more information on UFC Fight Night 61, including the full fight card, results, news, and more, click here.