After a thrilling split decision victory over Alexander Gustafsson last Saturday at UFC 192, Daniel “DC” Cormier (17-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) has established himself as the top dog in the conundrum that is the UFC’s light heavyweight division. The 205-pound division is arguably the weakest as far as men’s weight classes go; however, there are a few contenders that could challenge the former Olympian next.

Ryan Bader

Bader (21-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) has worked as hard as possible to put himself in a position for an elusive title shot. His five-fight win streak is the longest active run in the UFC (Jon Jones excluded), including wins over Phil Davis, Ovince St. Preux, and Rashad Evans. It could be argued that Bader deserved to be in Alex Gustafsson’s spot last Saturday, as Gustafsson was coming off a knockout loss to Anthony Johnson, while Bader accumulated four consecutive wins. Bader was leapfrogged in part due to his bland style. He tends to shut down the offenses of his opponents while not putting up much offense of his own. “Darth” was able to quiet his critics at UFC 192 with a dominant victory over long-time veteran Rashad Evans, in which the Arizona native mixed up takedowns and strikes beautifully. It’s tough to say what exactly Bader has to offer to the champion, because Cormier has all of Bader’s skills but on a higher level, but it would be blasphemy to pass up Bader’s title shot again.

Anthony Johnson

If the UFC is feeling cruel, they can set up a rematch between “Rumble” Johnson (20-5 MMA, 11-5 UFC) and Cormier. Johnson is coming off yet another knockout victory over Jimi Manuwa at UFC 191, which thrust the former welterweight back into title contention. Johnson, of course, already got a crack at Cormier back at UFC 187, and was grinded down by his opponent until the fight was stopped in the third round. However, there is this. This punch sent Cormier reeling right out of the gate, proving that Johnson’s “puncher’s chance” is the strongest in the UFC. Although Cormier completely outperformed Johnson, there were moments where “Rumble” had the belt within reach. A rematch may be undeserved, but then again this is a division that has given title shots to fighters coming off loses twice since 2013.

Jon Jones

Of course, there is the elephant in the room named Jon Jones (21-1 MMA, 15-1 UFC). Jones recently avoided jail time for his hit-and-run incident back in April. The UFC is currently reviewing the case in order to determine when Jones will fight again. Dana White also promised Jones a title shot immediately upon his return. Jones’ last fight before being stripped of his title was his dominant victory over the current champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 182. Jones is obviously the best fighter in the business when he is active, so it is only a matter of time until the belt is back around his waist. The loser in this scenario is Ryan Bader. If Jones is able to return within the next few months, Bader will be forced to rack up an unprecedented sixth consecutive win in order to get his title shot.

About The Author

Danny Doherty
Staff Writer

Danny is a sophomore at Ithaca College looking to acquire a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Media. He has been an avid fan of mixed martial arts since watching the UFC’s 100 Greatest Fights special on Spike TV back in 2009. Shortly following UFC 100, Danny’s Saturdays, and most of his free time, became dedicated to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Danny works as a sports broadcaster and as a DJ for Ithaca College’s FM radio station, 92 WICB.