After Jon Jones beat Daniel Cormier in a Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light-heavyweight championship bout on January 3, 2015, fight fans kept their fingers crossed that the rematch between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson would finally push through.
Cormier, who entered the fight against Jones with an unblemished record, failed to perform the role of a spoiler for the Jones-Gustafsson rematch and lost by a unanimous decision. While the former heavyweight contender fought bravely and had his moments, the championship experience of Jones was too much for Cormier.
But who would ever expect that UFC lightheavyweight contender Anthony Johnson would be play the part of the spoiler for the Jones-Gustafsson rematch by stopping the Swedish fighter in just one round over the weekend in Stockholm. Gustafsson’s record is now 16-3 with 10 knockouts and 3 submissions.
With the Swedish fighter knocked out of contention for a while, a UFC championship fight between Johnson and Jones would be next logical step. And for sure, a good portion of fight fans are surely salivating for that.
Johnson, who has a record of 19-4 with 13KOs and 3 submissions, is 6’2 and has a 78-inch reach, which means he will not be dwarfed by the 6’4” Jones who has an 84-inch reach. Jones has a record of 21-1 with 9 KOs and 9 submissions.
Although Cormier (16-1 with 6 KOs and 6 submissions) was clearly beaten in his fight against Jones, the smaller fighter (5’11 with a 72-inch reach) was able to land some good punches on his bigger opponent. So imagine the result if Johnson gets to minimize the six-inch reach advantage of Jones and land his own haymakers?
This is definitely an interesting fight.
But it would be foolish to write off Jones this early, and the champion might be raring to get back into the ring and show to the world that he still deserves to be champion despite being sent to rehab recently because of alleged cocaine use.
Also, Johnson has yet to show that he can avoid the submission moves of Jones and take the champion’s best shots. In his fight against Jones, Cormier showed good skills in countering the submission moves of the champion. On top of that, Cormier took the best shots of Jones and did not go down, which shows that Cormier’s fighting heavyweights helped him develop a high level of punch resistance at lightheavyweight.
Also, Cormier demonstrated he had so much courage by pressing the attack from the early rounds despite sustaining a cut above one eye from a clean punch by Jones.
Notably, two of Johnson’s losses were by submission, or to Josh Koscheck on November 2009 and to Vitor Belfort on January 2012.
So does Johnson have good countermoves against the submission skills of Jones? Can Johnson take the best shots of Jones without going down or going into retreat mode? And will Johnson have the courage to continue fighting even if he gets bloodied early in the fight against Jones?
In reality, it’s really hard to imagine Johnson steamrolling Jones just because the contender made almost easy work of Gustafsson, who gave Jones his hardest fight so far.
Should Jones-Johnson materialize, I would still give the champion a significant edge. However, Johnson can still pull an upset and it looks like the contender wants to get into the ring with Jones the soonest time possible.
So what if Johnson beats Jones? A fight between Johnson and Cormier for the UFC light-heavyweight championship would be definitely be a treat for fans!