Yeah, unfortunately popularity does seem to come into play.
Although I hate to admit it (because personally I don't feel he's ready) you have to look at the very real possibility of Rashad Evans deserving a title shot within the next few fights.
I highly agree with Wanderlei deserving a shot, with a win over Liddell there's no reason he shouldn't be next.
It's a tough picture to paint right now but I think with another big KO victory for Houston Alexander we may very well be seeing him within range for a title shot soon. Simply because he finishes fights. Or possibly a #1 contendor match between he and Forrest in the event that Wanderlei gets his shot.
I think honestly the biggest problem we're seeing in the UFC right now is a lack of fights being finished in decisive and early fashion. It feels like that's what the fans need to justify a title shot.
Unfortunately for me if I could make this a perfect world I would say a healthy Shogun deserves the shot first, then Wanderlei, then Jardine. Somewhere in the middle there we've got these anomalies in Forrest Griffin and Houston Alexander that are screwing the whole picture up