Once the UFC‘s glory division, light heavyweight waters are looking a little shallow in the upcoming year. With Jon Jones still holding on to the belt, Lyoto Machida escaping to the middleweight division, and several well-known fighters trying to reclaim their footing in the division, it looks as if the light heavyweight division is looking to repeat 2013.
Jones defended his title twice in 2013 (Chael Sonnen and Alexander Gustafsson), and will probably only add one more title defense to that list since he is the lone dominating champion with Cain Velasquez out for the foreseeable future. Those title defenses will more than likely be against Glover Teixeira, a rematch with Gustafsson (if he makes it past Jimi Manuwa), and possibly either Rashad Evans or Daniel Cormier.
Although everyone loves or hates watching a dominate champion do their thing, in a division that has been wiped out by the champion, there isn’t that many competitors to challenge for the title. Well known guys like Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Evans have already lost to Jones, Phil Davis is still attempting to make a statement to fight for a title, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has been suffering injures.
With so many contenders being defeated by Jones, chances of some prospects being pushed faster than they should will become more common as the year goes on; we are already seeing it with Manuwa/Gustafsson. Manuwa was definitely given a great opportunity with the fight, but he still needed one more solid fight before stepping into the octagon with a fighter who pushed the champ to his limits.
Gegard Mousasi, a former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, is moving down to middleweight for his next fight against Machida. It’s yet to be known if he will remain in the middleweight division following the fight.
Unless Cormier defeats Evans in their matchup, it looks like the race for Jones’ title is a two person race in 2014. Even with that, will Teixeira or Gustafsson have what it takes to defeat the champion, or will the champion take his talents to the heavyweight division before the year is over?