Sorry, Alexander Gustafsson (pictured). You might be the only man to take reigning UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to the brink of defeat, the division’s top contender, and initially slated to be Jones’ next opponent, but you are still behind Daniel Cormier on the totem pole.
When it was announced Tuesday that Jones suffered a leg injury that forced the UFC to postpone his grudge match with Cormier from September 27 to January 3, Gustafsson felt he should get back the title tilt that was rightfully his now that his timetable to return from his knee injury coincides with Jones’.
“I just heard the news that Jones is injured and the fight is rescheduled to January 3????” Gustafsson wrote on his official Facebook fan page. “Until then, I will be more than ready, it was MY fight to begin with and I WANT the fight as the number 1 contender. End of story!!”
Unfortunately for Gustafsson, Cormier revealed on Fox Sports 1’s “America’s Pregame” that UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta promised him that his next dibs status is secure.
“I was very concerned about that,” Cormier said of Gustafsson possibly leapfrogging back in front of him to rematch Jones. “I didn’t want to lose my place in line.
“Remember, I replaced Alexander Gustafsson [at UFC 178], so when I heard that Jon was hurt and him and Gustafsson are now on the same schedule in order to be healthy, my first question was ‘I don’t have to go behind Gustafsson again now, right?'”
Fertitta’s answer was a resounding NO.
Sure, Gustafsson is the only man that has made Jones look mortal during his UFC record seven straight light heavyweight title defenses, but what went down between Jones and Cormier nine days ago trumps everything.
Their impromptu rumble at the UFC 178 media day inside the MGM Grand lobby garnered significant mainstream attention, which will translate to mega pay-per-view dollars. There’s no way the UFC will risk losing that payday, unless Jones or Cormier suffer another setback on the injury front.
So Gustafsson will either have to sit the sidelines and await the Jones-Cormier winner, an unlikely scenario, or take another fight when his knee is ready to go, a more likely scenario.