MMA Ratings Podcast

March 30, 2020

Fight Fixin' - Post-Coronavirus Edition: UFC Light Heavyweight Division

By Adam Martin

The UFC, like every other sports entity in the world, is currently in limbo while humankind waits out the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus has destroyed the global economy and has also led to the cancellation of at least three and possibly more UFC cards. With MMA currently in a hiatus, we thought it would be a good time to look through each division and match-make future bouts for when the sport returns. In this edition of Fight Fixin', we take a look at the UFC light heavyweight division. Note: Some fighters currently have fights booked, but we will ignore those matchups for this series.

Dominick Reyes vs. Jan Blachowicz for vacant title after Jon Jones is stripped

In the wake of his arrest for a DWI and negligent use of a handgun, there seems to be a very good chance that UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will need to do jail time due to being a repeat offender, and if that happens, I expect the UFC to strip him of the title. Even if he doesn't have to go to jail, I expect Jones to be stripped. And if that's the case then there should be a fight between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz to crown a new champion. Reyes should have earned the decision over Jones at UFC 247, but the judges sided with the champ. He's the uncrowded champ in the eyes of many, and his next fight should be for the belt regardless of whether it's Jones or Blachowicz, who deserves the chance to fight for the belt after knocking out Corey Anderson in his last fight. Reyes and Blachowicz are elite light heavyweights and pitting the two against each other for the vacant title should produce an excellent, high-level matchup that would crown a very deserving champ with Jones out of the picture.

Thiago Santos vs. Anthony Johnson

If Reyes and Blachowicz fight for the title, then that leaves Thiago Santos on the outside looking in as far as the title shot goes. I personally thought Santos edged out Jones at UFC 239 and believe that he could be the champion right now. That being said, he blew both his knees out in the fight and has been rehabbing since then. It makes more sense for Santos to take another fight in the meantime before he jumps in there for the belt. Really, he could fight anyone in the Top 10 and it would be a good fight. But the matchup I like for Santos is a fight against Anthony Johnson, who has been teasing a return to the Octagon this year. "Rumble" hasn't fought in three years, but if he does come back he immediately jumps into the Top 10, and arguably the Top 5 at 205 lbs. Both Santos and Johnson are two of the biggest hitters in the UFC light heavyweight division, and a fight between them would be fistic fireworks. With both men coming off of layoffs, this is a fair matchup at this point in time. For the fans, it would be a really exciting fight to watch, and it needs to happen.

Volkan Ozedemir vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Another fighter rumored to make his return to the Octagon this year is Alexander Gustafsson. He hasn't fought since last summer when he lost to Anthony Smith, but there's been speculation he will return this year. If he does so, I'd like to see him fight Volkan Oezdemir in a battle between two of the best European light heavyweights on the UFC roster. Both Oezdemir and Gustafsson are ranked in the Top 10 and both men prefer to stand on the feet and trade. Both guys have plenty of knockout power and it would be intriguing to see who could land the bigger blow first. This fight makes all sorts of sense as the main event of a European Fight Night card, especially if travel is restricted in the coming months. Given the striking acumen of both men, there's no chance this fight would be boring.

Johnny Walker vs. Mauricio Rua

I'm not sure what's happened to Johnny Walker, but he's really struggled as of late. That being said, I'm not ready to write him off just yet, and I'd like to see him fight a veteran who will stand and trade with him in his next fight. That would be Mauricio Rua. "Shogun" is currently booked to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a trilogy fight at UFC 250, but that matchup doesn't make sense since Rua has already won the previous two encounters. I'd much rather see Rua used as a gatekeeper at this point in his career than being wasted in another fight against an aging vet. For Walker, beating a guy like Shogun would give him a lot more confidence after losing to Corey Anderson and then to in Nikita Krylov in his most recent fight. If he loses, we know that he was all hype. For Rua, it would be the chance to show he still has it, or determine whether it's time to hang them up. I view this as a very exciting matchup that would be perfect for a card in Brazil.

Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira

The lone bout on this list that is actually booked right now sees Anthony Smith take on Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC Nebraska. With that card scheduled for late April, there seems to be a good chance that it won't go on as planned due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whenever the schedule resumes, I would still like to see this matchup. I like the matchmaking here from the UFC, as Smith and Teixeira are two of the most experienced fighters in the division, not to mention that both are ranked in the Top 10. I really liked it when this fight was announced and hope it can stay intact whenever the UFC schedule resumes. Both guys are very exciting fighters and this would be a war.

What do you think of the above matchups in the UFC light heavyweight division? Comment under this article, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMAdamMartin.

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