The heavyweight title picture got a little more interesting over the weekend, or did it?

In the wake of Alistair Overeem failing his out-of-competition drug test, Frank Mir was promoted from his bout with Cain Velasquez to face Junior dos Santos for the heavyweight championship. This momentarily left the former champ, Velasquez, without an opponent. In the 48 hours Velasquez was opponent-less, speculation ran wild with who he would now square off against. Everyone from Fabricio Werdum to Roy Nelson to Travis Browne was rumored.

Sunday afternoon Dana White once again resorted to Twitter to end the crazy rumors and announce that Velasquez would now face Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Granted, both fighters are coming off losses, but this fight makes no sense.

Silva is making his promotional debut and is coming off a loss in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix to Velasquez’s teammate, Daniel Cormier. Velasquez lost his belt to dos Santos in November via TKO, but was previously undefeated, and it’s since been made known that he was injured leading up to the fight.

How is the UFC going to justify a No. 1 contender bout involving a fighter that is not only coming off of a loss, but is a promotional newcomer? While Silva’s TKO victory of Fedor Emelianenko was impressive, one would be remiss to think this is the Fedor that once dominated in Pride. The Brazilian’s other recent victories were against Mike Kyle, a light heavyweight who, on short notice, took the heavyweight bout, and a shadow of the Andrei Arlovski that was once a UFC champion.

To make matters worse, due to the fact that Cormier and Velasquez are teammates, with Velasquez being the more experienced and talented fighter, this fight would appear to be a no-win situation for Velasquez. If he wins, well then, he should have won. After all, Cormier needed only 66 seconds to knock Silva out. If Velasquez happens to lose the fight, it will likely take him a couple of years to get back into title contention with the infusion of talent in the heavyweight division.

Should the fight go to decision, or even be closer than most anticipate, there will surely be skeptics that will complain that Velasquez doesn’t deserve a title shot. If he makes quick work of Silva, as he should, and he gets a title shot next, that bout will likely take place later this summer against the winner of dos Santos and Mir.

It’s completely possible that in an almost two-year span, Velasquez will only have spent a couple of minutes inside the Octagon since his October 2010 defeat of Brock Lesnar—another fight that didn’t make it out of the first round.

Based on timing, there really wasn’t a logical choice to replace Mir. The most legitimate choice would’ve seen the UFC pull Werdum from his June bout with Mike Russow and plug him into the vacant spot on the May card. Werdum is coming off of a dominant performance against Roy Nelson, which many felt put him into immediate title contention. He’s also recently registered victories over Silva and Fedor Emelianenko. His only losses in the last four years have come to dos Santos and would-be title challenger Alistair Overeem—a bout that was much closer than anyone expected it to be, clearly making him a more qualified candidate for a No. 1 contender bout than Silva.

Surely there is a valid reason for not creating the Werdum-Velasquez match-up, one that the fans will likely never know. Any way you chose to look at it, the Overeem domino fell a lot harder than anyone could’ve realized.

What was once a stacked, all-heavyweight main card is now lacking that heavyweight knockout power with more than one lopsided match-up. While the UFC is sure to take a hit in the pay-per-view buys for this card, it is Velasquez who may suffer the biggest blow.

With a win over Mir, there would be no denying that Velasquez deserved a rematch with dos Santos; even with a loss he wouldn’t have fallen far down the ladder. Now, the best case scenario for the former champ will leave him having to convince the masses as to why a win over Silva warrants another title shot.

Photo: Cain Velasquez (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)

About The Author

Paige Berger

Relatively new to the sport of MMA, Paige is a life long athlete. She attended the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she was a pioneer member of the women's ice hockey program. She also excelled in softball and soccer before deciding to focus on hockey. Born and raised in New York, she is an avid Yankees fan. Currently residing in Las Vegas, a move she made after falling in love with MMA while training at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., she is currently studying public relations and advertising at UNLV.