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UFC 146:

Brock Lesnar, Alistair Overeem could remain players in UFC heavyweight class

Frank Mir open to a trilogy bout against Lesnar; Overeem should get immediate title shot upon return

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Steve Marcus

Frank Mir of Las Vegas goes down after a blow from heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos of Brazil during UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday, May 26, 2012.

UFC 146: Dos Santos retains title

KSNV coverage of Junior dos Santos' victory against Las Vegan Frank Mir at UFC 146, May 26, 2012.

UFC 146: Dos Santos Defeats Mir

Frank Mir, left, of Las Vegas battles with heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos of Brazil during UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday, May 26, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Brock Lesnar may have experienced a change of heart since announcing his retirement from the UFC last December.

Speculation on Lesnar ran rampant after the former heavyweight champion was spotted with UFC President Dana White at UFC 146 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. White did little to quell the clamor at the post-fight press conference, and said a return to the octagon was a possibility for Lesnar.

“He was here,” White said. “I think that says it all.”

Lesnar, who returned to professional wrestling and the WWE after retiring, didn’t watch the entire card but sat front and center forJunior dos Santos’ second-round TKO victory over Frank Mir in the main event. Lesnar has history with both fighters.

He coached opposite dos Santos on the 13th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and pulled out of a scheduled bout against the Brazilian when he suffered a relapse of diverticulitis. More notably, Lesnar faced Mir twice in the octagon — falling via first-round submission at UFC 81 before avenging the defeat with a second-round TKO at UFC 100.

If Lesnar has any unfinished business left in the UFC, it’s a trilogy bout to settle the score with Mir. White wouldn’t reveal any specific topics, but said he planned to have a conversation with Lesnar after the press conference.

Mir pined for another shot at Lesnar in the past, but was more noncommittal after falling to 2-3 for his career in title fights.

“Obviously, you’re not catching me at the best time,” Mir said as he exited the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “It depends, but it would sell a lot of pay-per-views. Everyone wants to see a rubber match.”

UFC 100 sold more than 1.5 million pay-per-views, setting records for the promotion. Even Lesnar’s final mixed martial arts fight, a first-round TKO loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141, sold an estimated 800,000 pay-per-views.

Overeem was another non-UFC 146 competitor who was a hot topic Saturday night. Instead of smirking like he did when he discussed Lesnar, White frowned when Overeem’s name came up.

Overeem was dos Santos’ original opponent at UFC 146 before failing a drug test and having his application for a license denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

“He sat in front of us and lied to us,” White said. “I’m not interested. I don’t have to deal with people that I don’t want to deal with.”

Despite White’s frustration, he said Overeem was likely to hold onto his status as the No. 1 contender when he returned to the UFC. Dos Santos is expected to grant Cain Velasquez, who beat Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva by first-round TKO in the UFC 146 main event, a rematch in his next title defense.

The winner of dos Santos vs. Velasquez II could face Overeem as soon as the beginning of 2013.

“He went before the athletic commission and got his punishment,” White said. “He’s going to serve his sentence now. When he comes back, he has to apply for a license again and we’ll go from there.”

Dos Santos was happy he wound up facing Mir, a fighter who has never tested positive for any substance or elevated testosterone levels, instead of Overeem at UFC 146.

But the champion knows Overeem still lurks in his future.

“It’s not a fight I want,” dos Santos said recently, “but it’s not a fight I’d shy away from.”

One fighter who doesn’t play into the immediate landscape of the UFC heavyweight picture is Strikeforce Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier, an undefeated former Olympic wrestler. Cormier, Velasquez’s teammate at American Kickboxing Academy, impressed White with his unanimous-decision victory over Josh Barnett last weekend, but he will fight once more in Strikeforce.

The likelihood of seeing Lesnar and Overeem in the octagon before Cormier is high.

“He will come to the UFC eventually,” White said of Cormier. “I’d like to see him go down to 205. He’s a small heavyweight over here.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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