In many respects UFC 156 proved to be the night of the underdogs in Las Vegas and it’s left the UFC’s plans for a couple of blockbuster pay-per-view title fights in ruins.
First up Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva produced another stunning upset victory against the odds by demolishing Alistair Overeem.
It’s a huge win for ‘Bigfoot’ and after having similarly upset the apple-cart in the Strikeforce promotion by defeating Fedor Emelianenko it proves that on his day he’s a dangerous opponent for anyone.
However, it leaves the UFC with a major headache as they were banking on an Overeem win to line him up with a title shot against current champion Cain Velasquez.
Now they are left with few legitmate challengers for the champ given that ‘Bigfoot’ doesn’t yet have the run of victories required to get a title shot and more importantly is less than a year removed from a comprehensive beatdown at the hands of Velasquez.
Perhaps incoming Strikeforce heavyweight tournament champion Daniel Cormier will emerge as the next No.1 contender, but he has to get past Frank Mir first and would have to abandon plans to drop down to light-heavyweight to take on Jon Jones for the title. Not to mention the fact that he’s team-mates with Velasquez and may not be willing to fight him.
The UFC could alternatively just jump into an immediate rubber match between Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, but given the one-sided nature of their last meeting I suspect they’d rather let JDS get a fight under his belt first.
The only bright side here is that JDS could now take on Overeem and that’s an exciting fight that could headline a future event.
Meanwhile, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s decision win over Rashad Evans in a tepid co-main event put paid to plans to have Evans take on middleweight champion Anderson Silva next.
The UFC do have a ready, willing and able opponent in Chris Weidman to take on Silva instead, but while it’s a fight that makes sense it’s one with considerably less box-office potential and one that it’s fair to say the champion is less than enthused about taking.
There isn’t really another obvious option for them though so the indication from Dana White last night is that this is the hand that they are going to play.