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Junior dos Santos returns against … Justin McCully?

After much discussion as to who he would fight next, it looks like Junior dos Santos will next meet Tito Ortiz’s buddy Justin McCully at UFC 102 in Portland.

This isn’t exactly what most of us were expecting. Cage Potato sums it up nicely:

It’s unfortunate because it represents a steady backwards progression in the opponents that Dos Santos is getting. For his UFC debut, he was given Werdum — a top-ten heavyweight at the time — and knocked his head into the mezzanine. Then, he was matched up with Stefan Struve, who was a killer in European leagues but untested against high-level competition, and needed less than a minute to destroy him. And now Dos Santos is being offered a fight against a guy who nobody thinks is any good. Are they building him up towards a super-fight with Jason Guida?

While McCully isn’t exactly the top of the heap, he does hold fairly solid wins over Eddie Sanchez, Antoni Hardonk, and Mario Neto. Considering the fact that every other top heavyweight is either already signed to another fight or to another organization, McCully is a decent enough test to see if dos Santos was simply a flash in the pan or not. Eh, who am I kidding? I’ll consider this a loss for dos Santos if he doesn’t give McCully brain damage within the first two minutes.

Common sense would indicate that dos Santos should instead do battle with Shane Carwin in the near future to determine who gets the next title shot. At the same time, this could mean that the UFC is going to have Carwin fight for the belt in his next fight with no title eliminator beforehand. With dos Santos now locked up, Cain Velasquez signed to fight Heath Herring at UFC 99, and the Kongo-Haronk grappling contest set for next weekend at UFC 97,  Carwin might be taking the express train to Titletown.