Daniel Cormier decided to chase history in his pursuit of the heavyweight title, becoming the second double champion in UFC history.
Regardless of the success and notoriety that has come to DC, he has been adamant that he wants to retire before his 40th birthday in March of 2019. While DC says that he wanted to go back down to light heavyweight division and defend his title, it was announced before UFC 232, that he would relinquish the belt and continue to defend the heavyweight championship against Derrick Lewis; which he managed to retain. The move up appeared to leave the light heavyweight division in a scramble to find a new top guy. A division that may have appeared to be losing exciting talent, now has plenty of hype heading into 2019.
“Daddy’s home,” as the king of light heavyweight returns to his throne. Jon “Bones” Jones faced off against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 to win back the belt he never officially lost. Jones returns just in time to bring stardom back to a division that was starting to look barren in the talent pool. Jones is not the only hope coming into the division after he regained the title, as there is plenty of hype surrounding some old faces in some new places, and some of the same guys that seem to always stay relevant. What could also be interesting is the callout from Jones after his victory. After defeating The Mauler, Jones called out DC to show that he is the true king at 205-pounds. Jones may be the only fight that could get DC back into the light heavyweight division, and one of the best alleged “rivalries” in MMA may be reignited before Cormier decides to call it a career.
After UFC Fight Night in Hamburg, Germany, there were some new faces in top contender discussions. Corey Anderson won an easy decision where he dominated Glover Teixeira in each round. Anderson out-struck Teixeira throughout the fight while also amassing seven take downs to Teixeira’s none. The results of this fight landed Anderson with a fight against Ilir Latifi, on the UFC 232 card. Anderson and Latifi went the distance where Latifi looked to run out of gas. Anderson was able to outlast and out-strike Latifi in a match that stayed mostly standing. Anderson showed great cardio and the ability to use a different game-plan from his traditional wrestling dominant showings. Anderson went on to call out Anthony Smith who is on a hot streak of his own.
Smith beat Shogun Rua in fantastic knockout fashion at UFC Fight Night in Hamburg, Germany. The fight was over shortly after it began with Smith knocking Shogun out, just outside of the one-minute mark in the first round. Smith also had recently stepped up to fight after a quick finish of former champion Rashad Evans, just weeks prior. Smith went on to call out Alexander Gustafsson after his win and although the Gustafsson fight made sense, Gustafsson was pulled from UFC 227 due to a minor injury. Smith continued his busy trend with another win vs Volkan Oezdemir via submission in October. He has looked promising since making the move to light heavyweight, and has managed to put him into the talks of top contenders before the end of 2018.
An even newer face in the light heavyweight division is the man who ultimately sent Smith packing from the middleweight division, Thiago Santos. Santos made his own statement with a back and forth fight that won him performance of the night against Jimi Manuwa at UFC 231. A second matchup between Santos and Smith in their new division could be on the horizon in 2019. Maybe Corey Anderson gets his wishes in what would be an incredible title eliminator fight vs Anthony Smith? It is also important to make note that Jan Blachowicz is on a four fight win streak and Dominick Reyes is on a 9 fight winning streak, stats that cannot be left out of the top contender discussions. The idea of Luke Rockhold moving up to light heavyweight has been tossed around and could prove to even further deepen the contender list. There are plenty of fights at 205-pounds that should have fight fans excited, as the UFC prepares for the new year on ESPN.
Read which matchups would make the most sense in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
The Fights to Make While Holloway is Gone
Jan Blachowicz vs Thiago Santos
This fight is already booked for a UFC Fight Night on February 23rd. Thiago Santos has a tattoo of a hammer on his chest, but he might was well have hammers for fists. He is never out of a fight with the one-punch knockout power he carries in both hands. Santos broke into the light heavyweight rankings after moving up from middleweight, knocking Jimi Manuwa out in his debut. Blachowicz is more well-rounded and is not afraid to use his submissions, or his fists to win fights. This fight could put one of these fighters in the top 3 and line up for a shot at the belt also. The line is getting crowded now with plenty of talent filling out the top of the rankings, but the winner here will have a great argument for why they deserve a shot at the 205-pound strap.
Volkan Oezdemir vs Dominick Reyes
Corey Anderson vs Luke Rockhold
Alexander Gustaffson vs Anthony Smith
Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier 3
Jon Jones returned to the division with an emphatic win to earn his belt back. Jones and Cormier have a history, with Jones being the only blemish on Cormier's record as a professional. This fight has to happen, and it might be the only fight at light heavyweight that Cormier would be willing to cut weight for. This would be the third chapter in the DC vs Jones era, and would aim to remove any doubt as to who is the best 205-pound fighter in the UFC. With a win from Cormier, it proves that Jon Jones is a cheater and that is the only reason he beat Cormier. With win from Jon Jones, it shows that he is the most dominant fighter of his generation, maybe ever, and it robs Cormier the right to claim being the GOAT because Jones would never have lost the belt. The only reason he won the belt was because Jones was suspended. Legends can be born, and legends can die, and that is why this has to happen before Cormier retires.