Although MMA fans are losing one of the biggest rematches in UFC history, Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier is more than a worthy replacement. In fact, it could change an entire legacy.
Unlike every other challenger Jones has faced so far as a champion, Cormier brings two things to the table, an undefeated record and title lineage from a heavier division. Both of those things bring a fresh breath of the unknown into the mix, with the very real possibility that Jones will finally lose his place at the top of the 205-pound division.
Moreover, there’s a very real argument to be had that Jon Jones is the greatest fighter in MMA history. If Cormier beats Jones at UFC 178, he can legitimately take that title for himself. That’s the real value of having such a stellar undefeated record.
If Alexander Gustafsson defeated Jones at UFC 165, it would be extremely hard to give the Swede that same consideration. After all, it was just a few years ago that a less-experienced Gustafsson lost to Phil Davis by submission via anaconda choke. While that defeat was a while ago, that kind of loss does a lot of damage to a fighter’s career if he (or she) wants to enter “the greatest of all time” discussion. Anyone could say the same thing about Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida or Rashad Evans. All of them are brilliant fighters, but would never be considered as all-time greats if they defeated Jones.
Daniel Cormier, on the other hand, doesn’t have that problem.
Unlike UFC champions Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman, there’s practically zero suspicion amongst MMA fans that Cormier’s 15-0 undefeated streak is any kind of fluke. Not only has he beaten down monsters like Antonio Silva, Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and Dan Henderson, but Cormier’s actually made it look frighteningly easy. That’s just scary. In fact, it’s even scarier considering that Cormier started his MMA career more than a full year after Jones.
At the end of it all, what was once a mere UFC title fight is now a legitimate battle to be considered the greatest living MMA fighter today.