Not that either will be looking past the other, but at least Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez can be reasonably sure of their potential next assignment if they win in December.
The winner between heavyweight champion Dos Santos (15-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) and Velasquez (10-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) will face former No. 1 contender Alistair Overeem (36-11 MMA, 1-0 UFC), perhaps as early as March or April.
UFC President Dana White laid out the still very loose plan early Sunday following the post-event news conference for UFC 153, which took place in Rio de Janeiro.
"The winner of that fight will fight Overeem (in March or April)," White said.
Dos Santos and former champ Velasquez meet in the main event of UFC 155, which takes place Dec. 29 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Dos Santos was scheduled to face Overeem this past May, but Overeem tested for elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels and was essentially suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for nine months. At UFC 146, Dos Santos defended his title against Frank Mir, while Velasquez beat Antonio Silva to become the top contender with Overeem unavailable at least until the end of 2012.
In August, White said at a recent meeting with Dos Santos, the champ told him he would prefer to face Overeem instead of Velasquez.
"He's the nicest guy in the world," White said of Dos Santos. "But he said, 'I have nothing but respect for Cain Velasquez. I like him as a person and as a fighter, and I think he deserves the shot at the title. But I do not want to fight him,' which is not what he said a month ago.
"He said, 'Alistair Overeem is a punk. He's got a big mouth, and he's been saying lots of bad things about me, and I want to knock him out. I want to knock him out now.'"
Overeem is eligible to reapply for a license with the NSAC starting Dec. 27. There is virtually no shot of Overeem getting licensed to fight on the Dec. 29 show.
Dos Santos this past November knocked out Velasquez to win the title at UFC on FOX 1.
In July, Overeem told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
) that Dos Santos was afraid to fight him .
"He can talk all he wants," Overeem said. "I know he's very happy that fight didn't happen, and I know he's afraid to fight me. He also knows that I'm the biggest threat out there to him. He knows when he fights me, there's no escape from it.
"He's going to hit and run, or he's going to go down. Either way, he's going to leave that octagon a loser.