On Saturday night Stipe Miocic ended Fabricio Werdum's UFC heavyweight championship reign before it even started. Falling at the first hurdle, Werdum, who won the belt following his victory over Cain Velasquez, lost in his first title defense in his native country of Brazil in stunning fashion. Rushing in to a retreating Miocic with both his hands down was never going to be a good idea.
Even on the back foot, Miocic can generate knockout power and that's exactly what he did, clipping Werdum with a hard right which sent him crashing to the mat 2:47 into the first round.
Miocic now has the chance to break a 21-year-old curse that lies upon the heavyweight championship belt, dating all the way back to Ken Shamrock. Y'see, incredibly, no fighter has successfully defended the title more than twice. Which begs the question, who should Stipe fight next?
Well, it may be a short while before we find out who Miocic's first title defense will come against. Since the new champ is getting married in a couple weeks he intends to focus on that (the wrath of a bride, would beat out any Octagon fight) before returning his focus on the UFC and his new reign as champion. Let's take a look at some of the contenders who could step up to face Miocic in the Octagon.
Common sense would lead you to believe that Overeem is already first in line for a title shot against Miocic. Already a popular draw in the world of MMA, "The Reem" is coming off an impressive win with a brutal knockout over Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night: Rotterdam. In the second round, Overeem (a heavyweight let's remind you) nailed Arlovski with a Karate Kid-like flying kick before hitting him with a left hand. With such a dominant performance, the UFC are surely now looking at Overeem as the No. 1 contender.
Junior dos Santos
Junior dos Santos is the only man on this list to hold a win over Stipe Miocic (one of just two career defeats). A former UFC heavyweight champion, dos Santos is currently ranked No. 4 in the division but cannot be overlooked as a tough opponent for Miocic.
Although losing to Overeem back in December in the second round, "Cigano" is fresh off a grueling five-round victory over Ben Rothwell and although Dos Santos will be sidelined for a few months due to a shoulder injury, the Brazilian has already stated his intentions to petition for a title shot at UFC 205 in New York.
A former two-time UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez's career has been hampered with injuries. He has already shown his heavy hands and devastating stand up game inside the Octagon (he has 11 KO/TKO's on his record), even hailing praise from renowned boxing trainer Robert Garcia. Holding a professional record of 13 wins and 2 losses, his only defeats came in the form of Junior dos Santos (a man he has since beaten twice) and a devastating loss to Werdum at UFC 188 in which he lost his title.
Looking to bounce back to winning ways, Velasquez is set to take on Travis Browne at UFC 200. An impressive win there could land Velasquez with a chance to reclaim his belt.
Of course this list wouldn't be complete without the addition of the most recent UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum. Although an immediate rematch doesn't look likely at all, Werdum is still a scary prospect with the division. Losing his belt in his native country likely hurt Werdum, especially in manner in which it was taken from him. Already asking for an immediate rematch, a revitalized Werdum would be stiff competition for Miocic inside the Octagon. Especially with the sole focus of retaining his belt.
With a first title defense for Miocic still to be officially announced, expect to be waiting some time until we hear any concrete plans. Until then, who do you think Miocic should face? Comment below!