UFC 260 saw the crowning of a new Heavyweight champion as Francis Ngannou violently knocked out Stipe Miocic to claim the title in his second attempt.
Despite the painful loss, Miocic has cemented his legacy as arguably the greatest Heavyweight of all time. It's unclear what the future holds for the 38-year-old, who doesn't have much left to prove. He is unlikely to be seen in action very soon and it would be understandable if he chooses to walk away from the sport.
But if Stipe Miocic returns, here are 5 opponents he could face next after his loss at UFC 260 to Francis Ngannou.
#5 Ciryl Gane (UFC Record: 5-0)
Only 8 fights into his professional career, 'Bon Gamin' has carved a niche for himself as a well-rounded, technical fighter. Unbeaten and never really tested, the #5-ranked contender has an outside chance to be Stipe Miocic's next opponent.
Gane has already shown that he has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the Heavyweight division's best. We could see him face off against Miocic if he gets a win in his next fight, which could be against either Derrick Lewis - who called him out recently - or Alexander Volkov.
Beating Gane in the immediate future doesn't do much for Stipe Miocic's legacy. But Miocic isn't the most active fighter in the promotion, and Gane might be a much bigger name when he returns. For the Frenchman, a win over one of the greatest ever would be a significant step towards superstardom.
#4 Curtis Blaydes (UFC Record: 9-3, 1 NC)
A Heavyweight who's also fresh off a violent KO loss, Curtis Blaydes could present a unique challenge to Stipe Miocic.
'Razor' seemed to be on the cusp of a title shot as he notched up convincing victories over former UFC Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos and Alexander Volkov. But for the third time in his career, he fell short against a power puncher - in the form of Derrick Lewis - back in February.
An athletic wrestler who has greatly improved his skills on the feet over the last few years, Blaydes is still one of the most dangerous contenders in the division. With decent cardio and lethal ground-and-pound, he could pose a threat to Miocic unlike any other.
Interestingly, Blaydes and Miocic engaged in a sparring session back in 2013. Speaking about the same in 2018, the 30-year-old Blaydes claimed that he held his own on the ground but admitted he was completely outclassed in the striking department.
Stipe Miocic is no stranger to fighting - and beating - dominant wrestlers, with his rivalry against Daniel Cormier still fresh in memory. If Blaydes manages to rack up a win in his next fight, we could see him face off against Miocic in an interesting clash of styles.
#3 Derrick Lewis (UFC Record: 16-5)
One of the biggest enigmas in the UFC, Derrick Lewis is on a 4-fight win streak that culminated in his vicious knockout of Blaydes. With victories over Ngannou and Volkov among others under his belt, 'The Black Beast' is one of the scariest KO artists in MMA.
Lewis is on the verge of his second title shot, and UFC President Dana White claimed in the aftermath of UFC 260 that the rematch against Ngannou is "the fight to make". If he manages to get the better of the current Heavyweight champion again, Lewis could be in line to face Stipe Miocic in his first title defence.
Even if Lewis vs Ngannou 2 isn't booked soon, a fight against Miocic makes sense for the division. The 36-year-old called out Miocic following his win over Blaydes by simply saying "I like them wrestlers", although that was when the Cleveland native had the belt.
#2 Jon Jones (UFC Record: 20-1, 1 NC)
Jon Jones has hinted at moving up to Heavyweight for more than a few years now, and the idea finally seems to be coming to fruition. 'Bones' has packed on the pounds as he attempts to become a two-division champion and further his legacy as one of the greatest of all time.
The most logical opponent for Jones is Ngannou, but Dana White was rather aloof when asked about the former UFC Light-Heavyweight champion's next fight. Speaking at a press conference post UFC 260, White appeared to suggest that Jones may not be up for the challenge.
But if Jones resolves his pay dispute with the UFC and gets past Ngannou, it would be a no-brainer to book him for a fight against Stipe Miocic. If Lewis gets the next shot at the strap as White wants, a non-title fight between Jones and Miocic wouldn't be difficult to market at all.
With both fighters boasting of legendary IQ and being the GOATs of their respective divisions, a Jones vs Miocic match-up would be etched in MMA history forever.
#1 Francis Ngannou (UFC Record: 11-2)
Ngannou claimed in the lead-up to the fight that he's been working on all facets of his game. But with less than three minutes of Octagon time since his insipid loss to Lewis, many questioned whether 'The Predator' had actually improved his cardio and wrestling enough.
Ngannou silenced all his doubters with his performance at UFC 260. Uncharacteristically patient in the first round, he threw a few smart combinations before sprawling to stuff Miocic's only takedown attempt of the fight. And in the process, the Cameroonian announced himself as not just a frightening KO artist but a legitimate, skilled champion.
While the UFC may not be keen on an immediate trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou due to Jones' impending move up to Heavyweight, there's no reason why the fight shouldn't happen sometime next year.
Post UFC 260, Ngannou expressed his desire to get back in the Octagon in July or August, and Miocic is unlikely to abide by the same timeline with his wife expecting a child in the summer. If Ngannou's first title defence - presumably against Jones - is successful, we could see Miocic take part in another trilogy for the ages.
Ngannou vs Miocic 3 is a fight that's always available to make, irrespective of who has the belt wrapped around their waist.