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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
While UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos isn't 100% sure who he'll be facing on May 26, one potential opponent has been ruled out by UFC President Dana White.
Alistair Overeem's positive drug test earlier this month has everything in a holding pattern until his April 24 hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. With the possibility of him being pulled from the UFC 146 event, fans, fighters, and pundits have been making the case for several names to replace him, with one particular campaign - #RallyForMarkHunt - getting a lot of attention.
However, while Hunt's comeback and three fight win streak in the UFC has been a good story, it's not going to get him a Title shot, per White.
"They can keep rallying," White said on Saturday following UFC on Fuel 2 in Sweden (transcribed by MMAJunkie.com. "That ain't going to happen. Listen, Mark Hunt is going to have to fight one of the top guys. You don't just jump right into the title shot."
Hunt will get an opportunity to move up the ladder on the UFC 146 card, as he takes Stefan Struve. Should he get past that test, White says a shot at a top five guy is likely next.
"I've got to say, anything can happen in a fight, but in all reality, it's not fair to Mark Hunt either to put the guy right in there with a Junior dos Santos for a title shot," White said. "The guy [ideally] works his way up, he beats Struve, fights somebody in the top-five.
"I guarantee you this: If he beats Struve, his next fight will be [against] somebody that's top-five that can get him closer to that title shot."
Penick's Analysis: Hunt was never a realistic option for replacing Overeem, despite his three fight winning streak, so White ruling him out entirely isn't surprising. He hasn't gotten a big enough win to take that slot, and if he beats Struve he's still a ways away from the top end. Considering his lengthy losing streak - and with who many of the losses came against - it is a good story right now with his comeback in the UFC. But that story itself wasn't going put him into this title fight in place of Overeem.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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