The UFC light heavyweight division has been turned on its head following the eventful UFC 214 pay-per-view last weekend. From Volkan Oezdemir’s shocking knockout against Jimi Manuwa to the returning Jon Jones, who reclaimed his light heavyweight strap by knocking out long term rival Daniel Cormier in the third round.
The UFC’s decision for Jon Jones’ next opponent will be a fascinating one. Here are three of the most worthy contenders in the division at the moment.
1 Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson is probably the most worthy contender of the three. Gustafsson has bounced back positively since his last title shot against Daniel Cormier at UFC 192, with wins over Jan Blachowicz and most recently Glover Teixeira, where he looked very impressive with a third round knockout over the Brazillian.
It feels as if there is still a page unturned between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson since their first encounter. The pair met at UFC 165 back in 2013 in a fight that ended up being awarded 'Fight of the Year'. Jones retained his title via unanimous decision; however, many people had the Swede ahead on their scorecards.
A rematch would equal or even surpass their previous bout, as both fighters have improved immensely in the past few years and will both be desperate for the win.
2 Volkan Oezdemir
If this were six months ago many people would ask, 'Who's Volkan Oezdemir and why is he now considered one of the top light heavyweights in the world?'.
Oezdemir's last six months includes victories over Ovince Saint Preux, Misha Cirkunov and most recently Jimi Manuwa, who was tipped to fight for the title before Jon Jones returned.
Oezdemir was going into his fight with Jimi Manuwa at UFC 214 as a betting underdog, but it took him only 42 seconds to dispatch the Englishman with a brutal knockout. The Swiss fighter claims he deserves a shot at the title, and it's hard to disagree with him now that he has scored three wins in the past six months.
When it looked like Jon Jones would pursue a super fight with Brock Lesnar, Oezdemir instead called out #2 ranked light heavyweight, Alexander Gustafsson, in what he claims to be a battle for the 'real king of Europe'.
He called out 'The Mauler' with an Instagram post saying:
Let’s increase the value of the next title shot! @alexthemauler and I need to figure out who is the real king of Europe! Alex, I know how great you are and I respect you a lot but I’m going to knock you out! Not because I want to just because I have to!
Whether Volkan Oezdemir faces Jones or Gustafsson, there's no doubt both contests will be a must see encounter.
3 Anthony Johnson
Jon Jones vs Anthony Johnson is the fight that could have been...
The two were scheduled to face off at UFC 187 in a fight that many regarded as a 'dream match'. Unfortunately, the contest never came to fruition, due to Jones' problems outside the Octagon. Jones would be stripped of his belt and replaced by Daniel Cormier, who went on to defeat Anthony Johnson on that night and claim the UFC's light heavyweight title.
In case you're wondering, yes, Anthony Johnson did retire following his loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. However, he has stated that he would only come back to face Jon Jones if the money was right.
Johnson could well get his wish, as many of the fans want to see a Jones Johnson fight, but they will have to wait quite some time, as Johnson will have to go through all of USADA's tests before he can fight again. If the two do face off it'll no doubt be an all out brawl that everyone will be very excited to see.
While we'll remain unsure of who is next for Jon Jones, there is one thing we are certain of. Whoever Jon Jones faces next, it will be a must see event.
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