When it comes to making great fights at the right time, no one is better than Joe Silva and the UFC. Think about it. One of the big reasons the UFC has been so successful is because the matchmaking team gives the fans what they want when it comes to big superstar fights. It’s something that’s been lacking in the boxing world since the early ’90s.

However, I can’t help but think the UFC is missing out on a huge opportunity by granting Alexander Gustafsson a rematch with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones rather than giving Daniel Cormier the next crack at Jones. There is no question Gustafsson deserves another shot at the title. He proved this when he took Jones the distance at UFC 165, putting the champ to the test, and again when he destroyed Jimi Manuwa in England at UFC Fight Night 37.

Although Jones vs. Gustafsson II makes a ton of sense and will likely do solid pay-per-view numbers, Jones vs. Cormier is a much more attractive offering. That’s especially true when you consider Cormier is coming off a manhandling of living MMA legend Dan Henderson. Then, when you consider that Cormier has been calling Jones out for quite some time now and that Jones is unafraid to take shots at Cormier from time to time, this fight really sells itself.

Right now, Cormier’s stock is on fire. Between the beating he gave Henderson and his role as an analyst during fights on Fox and Fox Sports 1, Cormier is a well-known face to diehard and casual fans alike. Mix in the fact that Cormier is a real threat to Jones’ title, and the UFC has all the reason it needs to make this fight happen now.

Jones vs. Cormier is a great potential match-up. They would push each other to new levels. Jones would test Cormier in the striking game and Cormier would push Jones to a higher level with his wrestling ability. Jones has demonstrated his ability to beat fighters at their own game, but Cormier is one of the best wrestlers in the sport today and his pedigree is of the highest level. Stylistically, they were made to fight each other.

As it sits now, though, Jones is scheduled to face Gustafsson in late September at UFC 178 in Toronto. Cormier will likely get the first shot at the winner of that rematch, but, as we are all well aware, a lot can happen between now and then. What happens if there is an injury? What happens if Gustafsson wins the rematch? Would Jones be granted an immediate rubber match? Will Cormier take a fight in the meantime to stay sharp, or will he wait for his shot?

By passing up on an immediate Jones-Cormier pairing, the UFC is leaving fanfare and money on the table. Gustafsson is marketable and well known—he’s the cover athlete opposite Jones on the cover of EA’s new UFC game—but Cormier is hot right now. The more time passes, the dimmer Cormier’s flame will become. Sure, more time could result in more hype, but the longer the UFC lets this go, the greater the opportunity becomes that this fight will never come to fruition.

Cormier is 35 right now. His window of opportunity with the UFC is shrinking with every passing month. Gustafsson, who is only 27, still has yet to even enter his fighting prime. Gustafsson should be the long play for the UFC—the rival who will push Jones for years to come. The Swede and Jones are close in age and ability, but another Gustafsson loss to Jones at this point would shelve a potentially historic rivalry for years. Jones and Gustafsson could easily become MMA’s version of boxing’s Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, one of the greatest rivalries in the history of all sports.

Granting Gustafsson a rematch now seems counterintuitive to the big picture. The UFC is still hurting, numbers-wise, without Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva. Should Gustafsson lose the rematch, the UFC will lose some of the marketability behind one of their best young fighters.

The timing is right, the money would be right and the draw would be huge for Jones vs. Cormier. It’s a shame that we will have to wait and hope it still has the same buzz six months from now.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.

  • Manny

    Amen.

  • Dickhurtz

    Good thought and surprise, !!! They figured this out late but did figure it out . They probobly slipped gustaffson a envelope of money and promised him then next shot at whoever wins. Good thought though ! Btw just my thought I hope I’m wrong but I feel like the reason gustaffson fight was so close because of the size comparison and reach . I don’t think dc is going to get passed this jones will use it and beat him up hope I’m wrong because he’s a pompous ass but don’t think so . Only chance I see for him to get beat soon is a guy with the same set of tools body wise. Again, hope I’m wrong .