ByJim Edwards, writer at
MMA story chaser from the UK
Jim Edwards

Who will be Daniel Cormier’s next title challenger?

If you believe Twitter, it would appear that the contracts are out for a Daniel Cormier vs Jimi Manuwa fight. Dana White, however, said last evening that the decision sits with Jon Jones and whether the former UFC light heavyweight champion would like a "tune up" fight ahead of a title challenge.

One man currently sitting outside of the title talk is the UFC’s number one ranked light heavyweight, Alexander Gustafsson. The Swede faces Number 2 ranked Glover Teixeira next month at UFC Stockholm and for the minute at least, is happy to not be in the conversation when it comes to a title challenge.

“To be honest with you, I’m not even worrying about the rankings,” Gustafsson said, speaking exclusively to “I’m not even thinking about the title shot right now. I’ve made that mistake before where people have been looking through my next opponent and the fight that is actually in front of me. They have been looking at the next one, but I don’t want to do that. I just see myself beating Glover [Teixeira] right now and that’s my only concern right now. That’s the only mission right now and I don’t care for the title shot. I’m happy if Jimi [Manuwa] gets the title shot because I think he deserves it. After I beat Glover, then I will look at where I’m at and what is ahead of me.”

Gustafsson then doubled down on his suggestion that Manuwa should be next in line for a title shot. As a two-time title challenger himself, Gustafsson said Manuwa had done more than enough to prove he’s worthy of a shot.

“We all just saw what Jimi did to Corey Anderson,” Gustafsson said. “He’s an incredibly dangerous guy and he’s been doing amazing finishing his fights. He’s an entertaining fighter and a very humble and nice guy. He’s a good friend of mine, and I really believe he’s earned the title shot. If he wants it, then he should keep doing what he’s doing and go all in for it. That’s what I think, but it’s all up to the UFC and their plans. Whatever happens, me and Jimi are still going to be good friends, teammates and train together. I’m going to back Jimi up and I know he’s going to back me up. One of us is going to get that title shot, I know it.”

If Jones is in favor of taking a fight before he comes back to challenge for the title, Gustafsson would be more than happy to welcome him back to the fold.

“One-hundred percent,” Gustafsson said, without needing a second to think about it. “One-hundred percent—if Jones wants a welcome party back to the UFC, then I’m happy to do that. Let’s see what happens, you know. It’s exciting times for the light heavyweight division.”

Gustafsson then explained that to him, a title shot or a fight with Jones would be equally attractive. The Swede believes that there’s a score to be settled, and that beating Jones is just another way of proving that he's the best in the world.

“The title shot is a big goal for everyone in the sport, but for me, the opportunity to beat Jones is almost the same thing,” Gustafsson said. “When you look at it in the big picture, I still think Jones is the best guy in the division right now. DC [Daniel Cormier] is, of course, the world champion, but Jones, I believe, is still undefeated. He’s just made mistake after mistake in his personal life. He’s thrown away his opportunities which is sad, but when the time comes for him to come back, I’ll gladly fight him. I want the belt as well, but Jones and I have unfinished business, and I’ll happily deal with it after I beat Glover.”

Manuwa vs Cormier and Gustafsson vs Jones? I don't think too many fans would be upset if the UFC served up those fights this summer.


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