Let’s not mince words, the UFC light heavyweight division is a barren wasteland of fighters left in the wake of destruction from the champ, Jon Jones. But is it really so bad that the winner of Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson will be awarded a title shot?

That’s the word going around town in the MMA world thanks to Ariel Helwani while on UFC Tonight. Of course, if you’re a true MMA fan, you know title shots are handed out like candy on Halloween. Many fighters have been promised title shots only to see them taken away due to injury, poor performance or something outside their control.

Still, is Cormier or Henderson really the only option available after Alexander Gustafsson? Really?

Cormier has yet to taste defeat and owns victories over a number of talented and top-ranked heavyweights. Guys like Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Josh Barnett, Roy Nelson and Frank Mir have all tasted defeat at the hands of Cormier. The AKA fighter/coach has improved by leaps and bounds since his initial fights, and he is, without a doubt, one of the top fighters in the game today. Yet, Cormier’s success hasn’t come in the division he’s currently competing in.

Cormier has only one fight in the light heavyweight division, and that was against the great barista himself, Patrick Cummins. Cormier did what an UFC-level fighter should do to a guy who was handing out caramel macchiatos the week before. The win guaranteed Cormier a spot in the top 10 of the 205 pound division, and it’s hard to argue his placement there. But Cormier has yet to face a top-10 fighter in the light heavyweight division. And despite Henderson sitting pretty at No. 6, let’s not forget Henderson had lost three straight fights prior to his comeback win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. So, saying that Cormier wins at UFC 175 against Henderson (as many expect him to), that would give Cormier wins over a 4-1 fighter (Cummins) and a guy who would be 1-4 in his last five fights (Henderson). Does that really sound like the credentials of a title challenger?

There’s also the case of how good the UFC heavyweight division really is. The division has historically been extremely thin on true title challengers, and three of the heavyweight contenders Cormier defeated are on the downslope of their careers. The other, Silva, has struggled to remain relevant in the division and was popped for elevated testosterone levels recently. Cormier’s record is not as clean of a resume as it initially appears to be.

With that said, at least Cormier has credentials in another weight class that rival those of a top challenger. The same cannot be said of his UFC 175 opponent.

Henderson is everyone’s favorite new old toy these days after his knockout of Shogun. While fans are getting caught up in the aftermath of Henderson shattering the Brazilian’s nose, some are forgetting the fact that Henderson was getting worked over prior to that moment. There were a few instances where the fight could’ve easily been awarded to Rua rather Henderson. Credit to Henderson for surviving, but let’s not act like he was dominating the fight with a couple 10-8 rounds.

Henderson’s aforementioned record in recent fights doesn’t resemble a top-10 fighter in any way, shape or form. Black out Henderson’s name and ask anyone where a 1-4 fighter belongs on an UFC card and odds are Fox Sports 1 prelims or Fight Pass event are going to be the first two responses uttered, not challenging for a title.

And let’s not forget the testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT) issue with Henderson. The former Pride champion has been using it during his recent run, but with exemptions for TRT now a thing of the past, there’s no guarantee to how well Henderson will perform. If he did in fact require the therapy, it’s a scary thought to imagine how far his skills would decline inside the cage as a result of the change in rules.

The fact that Cormier and Henderson find themselves in position to challenge for UFC gold ultimately is a result of Jones ruling over the light heavyweight division. Virtually all of the top contenders outside of a few have fallen to the champion in the cage. The most anticipated match-up for Jones is his rematch with Gustafsson, which should be in the cards later this year unless Glover Teixeira decides to shock the world. If Jones decides to bump up to heavyweight, it would blast the door open to everyone in the light heavyweight division as they scramble for a chance at the UFC title. Maybe then it wouldn’t be such a big deal for Cormier or Henderson to get their title shot. But if Jones still has the UFC strap, is anyone going to believe either man is ready to hang with a fighter the caliber of Jones?

You can’t fault Cormier or Henderson for jumping at the chance to get a title shot with a win now that the UFC’s once stacked light heavyweight division has become suddenly thinner than James Irvin at weigh-ins.

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.

  • Jon Doe

    This article is exactly why I have completely jump ship from the “other” mma news sites.
    1. Unbiased
    2. Calls it exactly how it went down
    3. Common sense
    4. Accurate journalism
    Henderson was noticeably slower and was definitely getting handled by Shogun, he says he was being “cautious” but I dont think has that extra “pop” even if he wanted to. Cormier wins are a little suspect as well, Bigfoot is notoriously slow, Barnett broke his hand 30’s into the fight, Mir.. well its Mir. just wall clinch him or take him down and tee off, everybody does it, Roy is Mr. one punch, got out struck and kneed to death by a jiu jitsu guy.

    • Martial Arts Fan

      Question- Why does everyone consider Jones to be a great striker? Not looking for nonsense answers. Technically speaking, I’d like to know what is impressive about his striking. His reach is not a technique, just in case anyone is stuck on that.

      • Since you’re hung up on semantics, his REACH allows him to be extremely EFFECTIVE at using his hands to connect with people’s faces. There, specific enough for you not to be a little bitch and pick apart minor technicalities?

      • Tommy Blingshyne

        hes a great striker exactly because of his reach and ability to use it to his advantage…he also throws some sick unorthodox elbows as well…idk how technically sound his striking is, im not a fighter but whatever hes doing is extremely effective…

    • Jo

      The article is unbiased??? As he blast Hendo’s losing streak does he mention the fights he lost two very close decisions to top fighters and belfort caught him like he has been catching everybody. If you are going to bash his record at least mention Evans Machida and Belfort in the convo. You are right on Hendo not moving like he used to but he is still a great fighter

      • Jon Doe

        but.. didnt the writer of the article take a jab Cormier as well? unbiased as in the journalist didnt favor one fighter for the other. he accurately noted both fighters as having suspect wins. in which case he is correct.
        as for your “very close decisions” i will give you the Rashad fight, i actually thought he won, Belfort blasted him, won fair and square, what’s the argument? as for Machida that is a clear bias on your part. Hendo that did not, in any way landed or hurt Machida during the entire fight, he did absolutely nothing. the only reason it was even close is because the judges dispise Machida’s counter style that robbed him of the Rampage and Davis fight. (they did nothing as well) I saw Machida repeatedly land knees to the body, low kicks and a few solid counters. i believe Hendo landed 1 grazing hook, that is the truth. make a video highlight of Machida getting worked by Davis/Rampage/Hendo show me these shots he took. i bet you cant

    • Tommy Blingshyne

      we can nitpick every fighters record and point out flaws in every single opponent…its a waste of time and holds little to no weight…bottom line is, cormier racked up 2-3 top 10 wins at HW and a couple other good wins…he was almost certainly a lock for a HW title shot up until dropping down…his wins at HW def. carry over but he does need to beat someone of note in the LHW division and Hendo, while on the downside, is still a top 10 LHW coming off a much needed and brutal KO of shogun..yes, dan was getting handled by shogun prior to the KO and yes shogun is far removed from his 2005 GP days but hes still a tough out for anyone and hendo did what we know he can do in any fight and thats land that H bomb and put people to sleep brutally…if cormier can beat hendo, especially impressively, i see no reason he shouldn’t get a title shot…on the flipside, if hendo is capable of putting away cormier, that would be a huge win for him and i wouldnt be against him getting a title shot either…he had previously earned but then lost a tltle opportunity due to injury so theres a part of me that thinks he’s due a title shot b4 hes done w/ MMA whether or not he stands a chance at winning the belt or not…

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  • Tommy Blingshyne

    if the UFC wanted to draw things out and come up with the undisputed #1 contender they could take the winner of cormier/hendo and match them up w/ the winner of rumble/davis…even then, if the outcomes of those fights didnt result in cormier v. davis for #1 contender, people would still say hendo/rumble winner was unworthy of a title shot…someone has to be next tho and cormier has done plenty in the HW division to have earned a title shot there…his wins arent forgotten just because he dropped down to LHW…he still needs a notable LHW win and hendo is as notable in the LHW division as any other top 10 guys…hendo has done plenty in his career and if hes able to string together a 2 fight win streak capped off by a nice win over cormier, i see no reason not to award him w/ a title shot either…maybe phil davis destroys rumble and looks super impressive and he jumps ahead…we wont know until the fights go down…promises of title shots go right out the window just as soon as they’re promised…the way the fights pan out will reveal who will be next