The current top contender for the light heavyweight strap is getting ready to face Daniel Cormier on April 8th in Buffalo, New York. And while Johnson may have a heavy task in front of him with his rematch against DC (who bested him the first time), that doesn’t mean that he has his eyes closed to the rest of the division.
In a recent interview on the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Johnson talked about the LHW title picture, and most specifically about how he agrees with Dana White’s recent statements that Jon Jones should be next in line for a shot at the belt (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“He should be (next). I think he still should be,” Johnson said of Jones getting an immediate title shot after his suspension.
“A lot of guys in the weight class have been putting in good work,” Johnson added. “Jimi Manuwa, he just came out of a fight with OSP and knocked him out. That was a clean knockout on his part. Who else is out there? Gus is still out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to make Gus and Jon fight again, just to see if you have a different result. So there’s a couple of guys up there who definitely have my attention.
“I think, besides DC, the one guy that has my attention is, what’s him name, Misha (Cirkunov). That dude is a beast,” Johnson continued. “He’s a beast, man. I like his style, and he’s built like a brick house. I think his ass is gangster. I don’t think he’s close, but he’s definitely somebody you’ve got to watch out for.”
Of course, the UFC did just remove Cirkunov from their rankings, apparently as a bargaining tactic, as he looks to negotiate a new contract with the promotion. Indications are that Cirkunov will re-sign, but the UFC’s relationship with “free agent” fighters has been nothing if not complicated.
In the meantime, if Johnson is going to face any of these men as the reigning light heavyweight champ, he’ll have to figure out a way to combat Cormier’s wrestling game. Until that happens, thoughts of who the next title challenger might be aren’t much more than idle ruminations.