Cain VelasquezAt the end of Cain Velasquez’s fight, he apologized to the crowd. Not something that is usually done by a fighter that so thoroughly defeated his opponent. Still Velasquez asked his fans for forgiveness for not finishing his fight, against Denis Stojnic, in a more spectacular fashion.

With this latest victory Cain Velasquez is 5-0 with three straight victories in the Octagon. Give credit to Joe Silva and the UFC for doing an excellent job of identifying and developing talent. Velasquez is simply the latest edition of young athletic fighters who will make up the next cadre of top tier fighters.

As a former Arizona State wrestler and All-American, Velasquez fits the contemporary MMA mold perfectly. As the fight with Denis Stojnic drew to a close UFC announcer Joe Rogan made the assesment that, “he [Velasquez] needs to step up the level [of talent] he faces.” I couldn’t agree more.

It’s now time for Velasquez to be tested against a top fighter within the UFC heavyweight division. While the division suffered a drain of talent in recent years, there are still quality opponents available. Perhaps the winner, or even the loser, of the Carwin-Gonzaga bout could be his next opponent. Another possibility is Mark Coleman. Coleman’s last fight was at light heavyweight and considering how fast Coleman ran out of gas the UFC should put the hall-of-famer back at his natural weight class above 205.

Outside of these opponents the heavyweight cupboard is pretty bare. Cheick Kongo is already locked up in a fight in UFC 97. Randy Couture and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira should be fighting each other. There is Junior dos Santos, but he is also in that class of up-and-coming heavyweights. Perhaps this is why the UFC was rumored to be after Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic again, or why they were seen courting Alistair Overeem and the Olympic Judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii.

Regardless of whom Velasquez fights next, the UFC heavyweight division appears to have a bright future with a new contingent of young fighters.

Zak Woods is the founder of the mixed martial arts blog