Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Chael Sonnen is somehow the #1 contender at light heavyweight, Machida and Henderson were fighting to be #1 contender until Gustafsson beat Rua to earn the honor. But now Dana White says Daniel Cormier might somehow be next for Jon Jones.
The UFC has been quickly moving away from any sort of sensible, easy-to-follow methodology and instead has moved into "whoever Dana White and Co. like today. In no division is this on display quite like light heavyweight.
Dan Henderson was the number one contender, set to fight Jon Jones only to injure his knee and have to pull out of the bout. Now it's Chael Sonnen who will be coaching The Ultimate Fighter against Jones and fighting him for the title in a weight class he hasn't fought in for several years after losing two shots at the middleweight title. Sonnen got the fight because he's the only guy that wanted it -- when it was offered on three days notice, not when it came with a long, full training camp.
Henderson was scheduled for a fight against Lyoto Machida in what was supposed to be a number one contender fight but then the UFC declared that Alexander Gustafsson against Shogun Rua was the actual number one contender fight. After Gustafsson won that bout it became a situation where now Gustafsson might fight Machida if Henderson can't because of the knee injury.
"[Cormier] is going to bring a lot of excitement to the heavyweight or light heavyweight division," White said following Saturday night's UFC 155 event in Las Vegas. "And he could be next in line to fight (Jon) Jones."
Cormier is a great fighter and the prospect of him fighting Jones is appealing on paper, my objection has absolutely nothing to do with DC's skills. But we've never seen the guy fight at light heavyweight. We don't know anything about how his body would handle cutting the extra weight, something that is more of a factor with Daniel than most fighters considering his incident at the 2008 Olympics where his weight cut led to kidney failure.
But more than just "does Cormier deserve the fight?" is the issue of the UFC effectively ruining their ability to promote number one contender fights.
Why should anyone care when a fight is billed as a number one contender fight? The UFC has used it as a selling point for fights on Fox shows, Gustafsson vs. Rua being a solid example of that. While I understand the idea of Gustafsson not wanting to sit on the shelf until whenever Jones is ready after he humiliates Sonnen, the plan is to get eyes that don't normally watch your product on the Fox shows and hook them.
Gustafsson was impressive against Rua, but anyone who thought "oh man, I might have to actually buy a PPV to see him fight for the title" might now not get that fight. And it's happening over and over these days as the UFC loses its identity.
It's a problem that needs addressing, but I doubt gets it.