The news came after a UFC 158 news conference in which White referred to Hunt as "one of the greatest stories in sports right now." Hunt is scheduled to face dos Santos at UFC 160 on May 25 in place of an injured Alistair Overeem.
"I would have to say yes," White said when asked whether the bout would determine the No. 1 contender. "It's crazy to say, but if he knocks Junior dos Santos out -- I mean, how is this guy not next in line?"
Hunt (9-7) recently defeated Stefan Struve via third-round TKO at a UFC on Fuel event in Japan. It was the heavyweight's fourth consecutive win following a four-year skid in which he lost six fights in a row, all within the first round.
When Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, purchased Pride Fighting Championships in 2007, it acquired Hunt's contract along with it. At the time Hunt was buried in his losing streak, and the UFC offered to pay the remainder of his salary for him to walk away.
"What we said was, 'Listen, we'll pay you the money and you can ride off into the sunset.' He was like, 'F--- that. I want to be paid to fight.' The losing record, his age, everything -- it just made no sense to bring this guy in, but he fought it and fought it. Since that day, he took incredible offense to that and never felt like he belonged here," White said.
White said that's no longer the case, following a phone conversation between him and Hunt earlier this month.