Jimi Manuwa is back in Sweden this week for the beginning of his training camp. As revealed by Dana White in the run up to UFC 211, the light heavyweight contender is on standby should any unforeseen mishaps crop up ahead of the planned showdown between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones. Whilst he is pleased to be gearing up to participate on the UFC 214 fight card, he is also keen to keep pushing his other options, namely a lash with boxer David Haye.
“Myself and Dana spoke to David Haye on a conference call while I was in Vegas,” Manuwa said to WHOA TV. “We’ve crunched pay-per-view numbers and Dana is very interested in the fight. The fight between me and David Haye will probably happen either before the end of this year or early in 2018 because of his injury. It will possibly be a cross promotion between Hayemaker Promotions and the UFC on pay-per-view.”
The timeline of the Mayweather vs MacGregor fight seems to roughly tie in with Manuwa vs Haye, and Manuwa has previously spoken about his wish for this to appear on the undercard of that fight. It would seem he is now keen to establish his own limelight on his own turf.
“We are both from London so it will be a packed crowd if we stage this at the O2,” Manuwa said. “Everything is going forward slowly, in the meantime we are getting Boxing licenses ready and everything is looking good.
“David Haye is a former world champion. The British Board of Boxing Control will sanction the fight as I’m a professional fighter and I fight all the time. I box with Dillian Whyte, a pro boxer, I have a pro boxing coach, it’s not as big a mismatch as the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight.”
Until then, Manuwa has more pressing matters at hand. Now that he is officially booked to appear on UFC 214, and given the lack of depth in the light heavyweight division, the possible opponents that make sense are few and far between as ‘The Posterboy’ acknowledged.
“I don't have an opponent,” he said. “Shogun doesn't want to fight. The top four are all booked I’m left at the moment without an opponent. It’s a weird situation but Dana said the other day that he wants me on the card but we have to see what he comes up with. I don't want to fight anyone ranked lower than me. I’ve got a feeling there will be some news soon though.”
The image of Manuwa as a stand in, waiting for any eventualities in the run up to the Cormier vs. Jones 2 clash isn’t the most attractive. Given the feedback circulating on social media, many may think that public opinion is a major influence over Manuwa, a point which he clears up pretty quickly.
“I don't care about all of that. I’m fighting and I don't care what people think. When I do take the fight and take Cormier’s head off everyone’s jaw will f—king hit the floor. I’m super confident and I fear no man, a fight is a fight.”
The narrative so far seems to be directed towards the possibility that Jon Jones will somehow withdraw from the fight and a lot of attention seems to be weighted towards that possibility. Manuwa is more pragmatic in his approach and is ready to face Jones should Cormier somehow be forced to withdraw.
“Who wouldn't want to fight Jon Jones? He is one of the greatest of all time. I want to fight someone above me. There are only a few people ranked above me. There are four people in this world I want to fight: Jon Jones, Glover Teixeira, Daniel Cormier, and David Haye.“
Manuwa is coming off a one-punch KO win over Corey Anderson in the UFC London main event back in March.