(Photo courtesy of MMAFighting.com.)
After his first-round TKO of Gabriel Gonzaga on Sunday, Junior Dos Santos boldly announced that he was ready for a title shot. But there are some timing-related realities he has to deal with: The interim title fight between Frank Mir and Shane Carwin, Brock Lesnar‘s return this summer (hopefully), and Cain Velasquez‘s equally high standing in the heavyweight pecking order. So instead of pleading for a title shot, Dos Santos is angling for the next best thing:
Well, we’re already sold. Not only would Dos Santos vs. Velasquez establish a legitimate title contender after the Mir/Carwin winner fights Brock Lesnar, there’s already a "you killed my master" storyline in place, considering that Velasquez is fresh off his drubbing of JDS’s mentor, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Though to hear Dos Santos tell it, payback is not what he’s after:
If you ask me, Dos Santos vs. Velasquez is the only heavyweight contender fight that makes sense. But Dana White doesn’t seem very hot on the idea — at least not yet. During the UFC on Versus post-fight press conference, DW said he has to wait to see how Mir vs. Carwin shakes out before announcing Junior’s next fight:
So why would a contenders’ match between Dos Santos and Velasquez depend on the outcome of Mir vs. Carwin? Allow us to speculate…
— Maybe Dana doesn’t want to eliminate one of his potential title contenders by making them fight each other. Instead, he’ll green-light Cain Velasquez for a title shot first, and make Dos Santos knock off one more guy, like the loser of Mir vs. Carwin.
— Maybe Dana feels it’s too early for Mir vs. Lesnar III. So, if Mir beats Carwin on Saturday, he’ll have to fight either Velasquez or Dos Santos before he gets Brock again, "interim title" be damned.
— Maybe Brock Lesnar isn’t ready to return this summer, or needs a non-title tune-up fight first. If this happens, he’d probably be stripped of his title. In that scenario, the Mir/Carwin winner would need somebody to fight. Either Dos Santos or Velasquez would do.
None of these situations are ideal. Hopefully, everyone stays healthy, the interim heavyweight champ fights Lesnar this summer, and Dos Santos and Velasquez are free to fight each other, even if it means one of them gets knocked down a peg on the contender ladder. Doing it any other way means the best aren’t fighting the best.