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UFC: Who Should Get the Next Shot at Junior Dos Santos?
Alistair Overeem is very likely out of his UFC 146 main event against heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, which means the speculation is running rampant on the Internet: Who will take his place?
Overeem registered an off-the-charts level of testosterone in a surprise drug test administered by the Nevada Athletic Commission after a March 27 Las Vegas news conference. Since he isn't licensed in Nevada at the moment, he'd face an uphill climb in obtaining one in the wake of his test result, which means the planned "May Madness" heavyweight event—which also features a No. 1 contender's bout between former champions Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez—has been thrown off.
So who should get the next shot at the champion? A look at the names which have been bandied about the Twittersphere:
Frank Mir The former UFC heavyweight and interim heavyweight champion was rumored to be the leading candidate to replace Overeem in the main event. UFC president Dana White seemed to put the kibosh on this for now by simply tweeting "Mir vs. Cain will happen" Friday night. But that doesn't prelude the notion of pulling dos Santos off UFC 146 altogether and making Mir vs. Cain the main event. Mir has won four of his five bouts since losing the title to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100. He's 32 and not getting any younger. And he's coming off his most impressive win in quite some time, as he snapped the arm of former PRIDE champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with a Kimura at UFC 140. If not now for Mir, when?
Cain Velasquez There's a simple, logical argument that Velasquez deserves the shot at dos Santos: After all, he's the former champ, and he lost the title to dos Santos in his only career defeat. But mitigating circumstances suggest Velasquez might be better off with another bout before getting a title shot, which is why he was slotted with Mir to begin with. It has been 20 months since Velasquez steamrolled Lesnar in Anaheim to take the title. Since then, he spent a year out of action injured, and then returned to just 1:04 of cage time before dos Santos caught him and finished him. A bout against another top-tier guy before, be it Mir or another fighter, before rematching dos Santos is in Velasquez's best interest in the long run.
Dan Henderson An intriguing darkhorse of a candidate. The former PRIDE 183- and 205-pound champion and Strikeforce light heavyweight champ seems to be holding out for the winner of the Jon Jones-Rashad Evans bout. Certainly, Henderson has made a career out of taking on all comers and got up to 207 pounds for his 2011 victory over Fedor Emelianenko. But while the dos Santos-Henderson option sounds interesting, the size difference is simply too much of a gap to make for a realistic fight. Fighting an undersized heavyweight in Emelianenko is one thing; taking on a 6-foot-4, 240 pounder with murder in his fists like dos Santos is something else altogether.
Mark Hunt There's been a groundswell of internet opinion in favor of giving this New Zealand underdog a title shot. Hunt is on a bit of a roll in the UFC with three consecutive victories, including his first-round TKO of gatekeeper Cheick Kongo at UFC 144. No doubt the heavy-hitting Hunt would put on an entertaining show rich up until the moment the champion inevitably knocked him out, but let's get serious … Hunt has an 8-7 record and the Kongo victory is by far the biggest of his career. He simply isn't ready.
Fedor Emelianenko. This one would have been more effective if you imagined a sitcom laugh track while you read his name. Seriously, some have suggested the Russian as an opponent for dos Santos. The fighter who was submitted in just over a minute by Fabricio Werdum, provided Antonio Silva with his only career win of note, and was run over by the former middleweight champion Henderson. Yes, that Fedor. Unfortunately for those whose calendars froze over in 2005, Emelianenko is going to fight again in June in Russia and thus wouldn't be available to fight dos Santos. No opponent has yet been named for Fedor, presumably because they're waiting to see whether Tank Abbott or John Matua answer their contract proposal first.
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