The UFC Light Heavyweight division is dying a slow and painful death. A division once known for its excitement and unpredictability has fallen victim to Father Time. Stars that made the division great like Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson are long past their prime. To make matters worse, UFC let legitimate talent like Phil Davis and Ryan Bader leave the promotion. Thus, leaving the division’s top 10 to read like a list of unproven fighters mixed with some old hands well past their best by date. There are two great fighters left: Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson. But they have already fought each other.
So yes, fans are losing interest in the 205lb division. But there is one man who can bring the attention back to the light heavyweights.
Jon Jones is his own worst enemy, but the light heavyweight division’s only savior. When he defeated Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, the future seemed bright. Jones looked set for a big 2015. But instead of further paving his path towards being the undisputed greatest fighter of all time, Jones’ out-of-competition antics would derail him. On April 27th 2015, Jones was involved in a hit-and-run incident in New Mexico. This ultimately led to him being stripped of his championship. With the king sidelined, Cormier picked up the vacant title, looking to unify it against Jon Jones at UFC 200. Once again, Jones would mess up. Mere days after UFC 200, Jones would be flagged for failing a drug test. His year-long suspension, meanwhile, would leave the division in disarray.
In Jones’ absence, Cormier stepped up to the plate. And since, has done all he could to carry the mantle of the division. Cormier’s two wins over Anthony Johnson paired with wins over Anderson Silva and Alexander Gustafsson illustrate just how impressive he has been. Yet, Jones still lingers in the periphery. And as long as he is around, people will find it hard to be invested in Cormier as champion.
There is no clear contender in the light heavyweight division. In fact, Cormier is someway ahead of the rest of the division. With his nearest foe Alexander Gustafsson already booked to fight Glover Teixeira, the champion is desperate for a fight. The only man with name value in the top-five is Jimi Manuwa. But, there are multiple reasons why this fight does not make any sense. Manuwa is devoid of big wins and has come undone when facing the upper-echelon of this division in the past. Stylistically speaking, Manuwa is an easy fight for Cormier, who showed how he could overcome heavy hitters with weak defensive wrestling on multiple occasions in the pasta��most recently against Anthony Johnson.
While Manuwa is the easy fight for Cormier, the champion must push for a fight against Jon Jones. Otherwise, he’ll face further disinterest from fans. Although DC is the rightful champion, casual fans still associate the light heavyweight division with Jones. He is the only man to defeat DC. So, the champion must push for a chance at redemption. And, an opportunity to get all eyes on the UFC light heavyweight division once again. Even though Jones looked sluggish in his lone 2016 fight against Ovince St-Preux, his body of work makes him far more deserving of a title shot than anybody else in the 205 lb. division.
Without Jon Jones versus Daniel Cormier II, the light heavyweight division is in shambles. Nobody wants to watch Cormier versus Manuwa. Or Cormier versus anyone else, for that matter. The only way that fans will part with their hard earned cash to see Cormier fight is to watch the return of Jon Jones.
For the sake of the division, Daniel Cormier must push for the rematch that the fans really want to see.