By Adam Martin
There’s a very good chance Daniel Cormier will soon find out who his title defense will come against.
The UFC Light heavyweight Champion lost his chance to unify the belt with interim champion Jon Jones at UFC 200, when the interim champ failed a USADA drug test and was removed from the card. Cormier literally broke down and cried after
UFC President Dana White delivered the news to him, and although he recouped some of the money he would have made with his victory over short-notice opponent Anderson Silva, there’s no doubt Cormier would have been entitled to a much larger paycheck had he remained in the main event and fought Jones.
That’s where UFC 202’s co-main event comes into play, as top contenders Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira clash in what should be an incredible, action-packed fight between two light heavyweights who tend to finish fights. Johnson is currently ranked #1 in the “official” UFC rankings with Teixeira at #2, so the UFC couldn’t have put together a better matchup. And with Jones out, both of these men are clearly the next two best and deserving contenders in the 205-pound division.
Johnson did fight Cormier for the vacant belt back at UFC 187, losing via third-round submission, but he also knocked down Cormier in the first few moments of the bout, hitting the champ harder than anyone else has in his career. Johnson has since rebounded with massive knockout wins over Jimi Manuwa and Ryan Bader, and if he can improve his cardio and ground game, a rematch with Cormier becomes intriguing. After all, Johnson is one of the hardest punchers in the game today, and Cormier isn’t getting younger, nor is his chin getting any better. We have seen this fight before, but a rematch is still something fans will be interested in because both of these guys finish fights and the first fight was so good. If Johnson beats Teixeira, he’ll likely get the rematch he craves.
huge knockout win over Rashad Evans his last time out to go along with a knockout win over Pat Cummins and a submission win over Ovince Saint Preux. He did lose to Jones, but he wasn’t totally outclassed in that fight, going the five-round distance with the former champ, and with his ugly decision loss to Phil Davis not important anymore since Davis is in Bellator now, Teixeira has a golden opportunity to finally get another crack at the belt in his late 30s. Jones was a bad matchup for Teixeira, but Cormier is more of a winnable fight for the Brazilian. It’s a fight we haven’t seen before, and if Teixeira can beat Johnson, he will be no doubt deserving of a title shot.
It’s unfortunate that Jones’ status is in limbo right now, and he may ultimately be cleared of any wrongdoing, but until that happens the UFC and its matchmakers cannot assume he will be coming back anytime soon. With Johnson vs. Teixeira taking place at UFC 202 and with Cormier healthy after the win over Silva, if the winner of this fight emerges without any major injuries, this is a title fight that we may see before the end of 2016. Getting used to life without Jones is hard, but there are still elite light
heavyweights in the UFC, and Cormier, Johnson, and Teixeira are three of the best in the world. And after UFC 202, we’ll likely see the best two of these three fighting for the title very soon.
UFC 202: Diaz vs. McGregor 2 takes place on August 20, 2016 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.