March 22, 2017

UFC Fight Night 107: Jimi Manuwa Is A Well-Timed Breath of Fresh Air For the Light Heavyweight Division

By Raphael Garcia

There was a time when the light heavyweight division was the weight class to watch in MMA. Not just in the UFC, but across all of MMA – stars were made at 205 pounds. That situation has changed in recent years, as the light heavyweight division has become bereft of new or emerging talent. However, the UFC Fight Night 107 main event created an opportunity for a new competitor to burst through, and Jimi Manuwa capitalized on that opportunity in spectacular fashion.

Using a highly efficient and economical style, Manuwa dispatched Corey Anderson in less than a round, stopping the Ultimate Fighter Season 19 winner. Manuwa may not have been on anyone’s short list of potential title contenders, but “The Poster Boy” has put together an impressive run over his five years of UFC service. In that time, he’s put together a 6-2 record. While those six wins are where people may look first, it’s those two losses that should get the most attention. The only two men to defeat Manuwa are Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson.

Because his only defeats came to two of the elite members of the light heavyweight division, one might wonder whether Manuwa could one day reach that status himself, and some day find himself in a title bout or title eliminator. He is probably one or two wins away from the opportunity, but one would hope that with this most recent win, Manuwa’s name will be added to the very short list of men in the light heavyweight title picture within..

At 37 years of age, Manuwa isn’t young, fresh blood for the light heavyweight division in any sense of the word. However, he does offer a breath of fresh air for a group of fighters that sees Johnson, Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier, and Jon Jones going round robin on a carousel of title matchups. Ovince Saint Preux and Glover Teixeira tried to break in, but both were rebuffed. Manuwa has already defeated OSP, so perhaps a bout with Teixeira looms, with a win setting him up for a shot at the title. 

Regardless of the plans the UFC decide to make for Manuwa at this point in time, he’s clearly an asset to the promotion. The light heavyweight division isn’t as exciting as it once was. Even the return of Jon Jones at some point in 2017 may not be enough to push this weight class back to center stage for fans of the sport. Manuwa’s slow and steady rise through the ranks aligns with how he fights -- at a methodical pace -- but Manuwa’s impressive knockout power, the kind that has dispatched opponents in 15 of his 17 victories, proves that he knows how to make a sudden impact as well. He did so at UFC Fight Night 107, and now it’s time for the UFC to put “The Poster Boy” into a bout that will give him the opportunity to claim the top contender’s slot. Because without him, the rest of this division will continue to go around in a circle.

UFC Fight Night 107: Anderson vs. Manuwa took place March 18, 2017 at The O2 in London, England.

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