Dana White took to Twitter’s Periscope app for a Q&A session with fans yesterday where he revealed the UFC’s current thinking on who should get the first shot at new heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum.
According to White it’s now down to a two-horse race with the current No.2 ranked Junior dos Santos having been ruled out of contention for now, even though it seems the UFC president feels he deserves it.
“Dos Santos should get that fight, I agree,” White stated. “Dos Santos should get that fight, but he’s hurt and he can’t take it.”
So, that leaves it down to just two obvious candidates, the No.3 ranked Stipe Miocic and the No.4 placed Andrei Arlovski, and White confirmed it will be one of them who gets the opportunity.
“I know there’s reports out there that Arlovski has it but that’s not true. It’s either going to be Stipe or Arlovksi.”
The fact that they aren’t willing to wait around for Dos Santos even though they believe he is the front-runner on paper suggests that they are looking to make the next heavyweight title fight sooner rather than later which is good news since the belt was essentially on the shelf for the best part of a year and a half before that due to Cain Velasquez’s injury woes.
It’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod between Miocic and Arlovski. Based on ranking alone it’s Miocic’s fight, but his loss to the aforementioned JDS back in December is a blemish on his record, though it was a very close fight. He’s racked up a dominant win over Mark Hunt since then and beforehand compiled a three-fight winning streak against the likes of Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga.
Based on recent form alone Arlovski has the edge though with three wins in a row since returning to the Octagon in seven years almost exactly a year ago.
His first fight back was a very lackluster split decision win victory over Brendan Schaub, but he’s since stepped up his game with back-to-back first round stoppages due to strikes against Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva and Travis Browne.
It should also be noted that Arlovski also holds a prior win against Werdum dating back to UFC 70 in 2007, claiming a unanimous decision victory.
As we’ve seen in the past though, the UFC has a tendancy to overlook things like rankings and form over which match-up will generate the most interest and there’s no doubt that Arlovski is more marketable than Miocic, having a loyal core fan-base and inducing a sense of nostalgia amongst fans who remember his time as a UFC heavyweight champion many years ago. Throw in his unlikely rise back to the top in the twilight of his career and you’ve got a compelling back-story to help promote the fight.
On the other hand, if you were going just by who has the better chance of winning, Miocic would likely have the edge, so there’s many ways to look at this situation.