The UFC is struggling right now. Sure, the promotion is aggressively growing the brand and holding more events than it ever has before, but many of the cards just haven’t featured a compelling storyline or a supreme match-up that forces fight fans to stand up and take notice. As a result, pay-per-view buys are down and live television ratings are not as strong as they once were. The UFC needs a fight that will bring it out of its current funk. It needs Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier.

Not only are Jones and Cormier two of the most brilliant fighters in the world today, but they fight in the sport’s premier division. Ever since weight classes were introduced to the UFC, the light heavyweight division has been its marquee division, always a fan favorite and always stacked with incredible talent. As a general rule, the light heavyweight champion is the biggest star in the UFC. Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture all became legends of the sport while wearing light heavyweight gold.

Current UFC light heavyweight champion Jones is no different. He is the sport’s biggest star, and he’s widely considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet today. Jones has been a dominating force in the sport. His game has gone to another level since capturing the title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in March 2011. Since his victory over Shogun, Jones has gone on to destroy the competition, defending his title seven times against a who’s who of MMA elite.

It’s not just skill or ability that makes Jones such a star, though. It’s his polarizing personality. Fans love to hate the young champion, and that visceral response he creates makes fans want to tune in for his fights. But just like how the UFC is lacking in overall fan interest, Jones is lacking that spark to take his championship to the next level.

His budding rivalry with Cormier could potentially be just what Jones needs to push him to new heights as a champion. When Jones was taken to the limit by Alexander Gustafsson, he showed the world that he has the grit and determination to overcome adversity. Cormier has the ability to take Jones even further and elevate his game even more.

Every great champion needs a rival to push them to new levels. Magic Johnson had Larry Bird, Peyton Manning has Tom Brady and Muhammad Ali had Joe Frazier. Great rivalries don’t just push athletes to be perform better. Rivalries are what captures the imagination of fans and ignites the growth of sports as a whole.

The UFC has grown so much in the last few years. The sport of MMA has come so far since its inception, which is simply amazing. But even though the UFC is as big as it is, MMA still hasn’t been accepted fully by the casual fans. Those are the fans that need a reason to tune in and watch. Those are the fans that drive pay-per-view buys and ratings.

A former Olympian, an undefeated fighter and an analyst for Fox Sports, Cormier has the resume, the skills and the visibility to attract the attention of casual fight fans. His likeability also goes a long way toward creating interest because of how much hatred Jones’ personality can create.

The UFC has a huge opportunity with Jones and Cormier, but it will be up to the fighters to make this rivalry great. If Cormier and Jones can produce an epic fight in the cage, then the UFC will have a true rivalry to hang its hat on, and perhaps a rivalry that will bring the UFC out of its current funk.

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.