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Should the Carwin/Gonzaga winner get an immediate title shot?

The guys at Cage Potato recently posted their UFC 96 edition of Ben vs. Ben, where they answer questions relating to the card and usually come to similar conclusions, while taking every opportunity to insult one another. Overall, it’s a good time for the whole family — even your creepy uncle Bill. Just keep him away from the kids.

Each of the Bens give their own perspective on whether the winner of the Gabe Gonzaga/Shane Carwin match-up should fight for the belt in his next bout. Both guys think Carwin is going to end up with his giant arm raised and I can’t argue with that.

Here’s Fowlkes giving his take:

Absolutely the winner of this fight deserves a title shot.   Not necessarily because this is the kind of epic number one contender match that my dream fight between middleweights Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia would be, but more because there’s really no one else more deserving in the heavyweight division.

And Goldstein’s point of view:

Still, you can’t say “screw it, give Carwin a shot” just because nobody else is ready. I think matchmaking based on that attitude diminishes the importance of the UFC’s heavyweight title, which should kind of be a big deal. …Carwin should have to beat another non-can like Kongo, or someone high-profile like the loser of Couture/Nogueira. …If that means the heavyweight belt is tied up until a true #1 contender emerges, so be it. As much as I love Shane Carwin, there’s really no reason to throw him into a title fight until he’s fully developed and put over with the fans.

Both writers make valid points but I think the answer to this question is going to be based on too many variables to make a clear-cut decision right now. The need for future main events (think Rampage/Jardine-type last minute booking) and the victors of the swarm of heavyweight fights coming up will both play a role in determining the next title challenger, in addition to who wins Carwin vs. Gonzaga.

In all likelihood, I think Goldstein is right. The UFC will want the winner of this fight to beat another contender before any title shot is talked about. The winner of Lesnar/Mir will probably sit out for another 5 or 6 months, let the division play itself out, and defend the belt in October or November. I say the Gonzaga/Carwin winner fights Kongo if Kongo beats Hardonk, and fights Dos Santos if Kongo loses. That fight goes down in July, and the winner is the number one contender.