Cormier's first challenger to title: Alexander Gustafsson

Why Daniel Cormier vs Alexander Gustafsson Makes Perfect Sense

Why Daniel Cormier vs Alexander Gustafsson Makes Perfect Sense

Dana White made the announcement that newly crowned light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (16-1) will make his first title defense against Alexander Gustafsson, to which many fans found very surprising. Gustafsson (16-3) is the number two-ranked light heavyweight, and suffered a quick and vicious TKO loss to Anthony Johnson back in January at UFC on Fox 14.

The fans can agree and it makes sense to ask, “Why should a fighter who was just TKO’d get a title shot?” The answer to that is simple:

The pickings are very slim in the division right now.

If you look at the rest of the division, the only other fighter who could make a case for a title shot is number three-ranked Ryan Bader (19-4), who has won four straight fights (with the last three straight opponents being ranked). The problem with Bader might be that he is not that marketable, and he has not finished any of his last four opponents. In fact, Bader has not finished an opponent since September 2013 when he submitted Vladimir Matyushenko.

If you look at the rest of the top 10 division, there is no one available due to upcoming matches, or plagued with injuries.

Rashad Evans (tied for number three ranking with Bader), has not fought since 2013, plagued with injuries. Number five-ranked Glover Teixeira will be fighting number six-ranked Ovince St. Preux on August 8 in the main event of UFC Fight Night (in Tennessee).

Jimi Manuwa is ranked at number seven, just fought and won against Jan Blachowicz by decision in April’s UFC Fight Card in Poland, his fight before that however was a TKO loss to Alexander Gustafsson. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is ranked eighth and will face 11th ranked Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 190.  Quinton Jackson is number nine, and made his return to the UFC against Fabio Maldonado at UFC 186, winning by decision.

So as you can see, Alexander Gustafsson vs. Daniel Cormier will make sense, as Gustafsson is a bigger draw than Ryan Bader and more marketable, and the rest of the light heavyweight division is either booked, or inactive.

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