It could almost be a title eliminator: Ryan Bader vs. Anthony Johnson has all the makings of a stellar fight, featuring two of the top fighters in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division, both of whom are currently on win streaks (two for Johnson, three for Bader) in the promotion over top-ranked fighters.
In a division which has been nearly cleared out by the most dominant champion in light heavyweight history, Jon Jones, that’s almost a guaranteed title shot – or it would be, were it not for the fact that the recently injured Jones currently has two title challengers lined up in Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson.
Gustafsson, who seemingly lost out on his title shot after withdrawing from UFC 178 with injury, was originally linked to a bout with Johnson, but was less than impressed with the idea given he’d already been granted another shot at the champ. He has since been very vocal about waiting for his shot, which, should he be allowed to sit, would come after Cormier and Jones meet in January.
That’s assuming Jones, who also had to pull out of UFC 178 with an injury, heals up in time.
All that means that the next two top contenders, Johnson and Bader, have time to kill — and a possible date with one another. That seems to suit “Rumble” just fine. Speaking to UFC.com, Johnson acknowledged the possibility of a fight with Gustafsson, but said he wanted to face Bader first, and that he was “not impressed” with what he saw in Bader’s recent win over Ovince St. Preux at UFC Fight Night 47.
Should the UFC make this match — and fights discussed on the promotion’s website tend to have a way of happening — Johnson, a devastating striker with a lot of power, will have a chance to take on a wrestler who he believes is stronger than Phil Davis, the man Johnson picked apart in his return fight in the UFC earlier this year. Bader, meanwhile, who is coming off wins over St. Preux and former Strikeforce champ Rafael Cavalcante, would push himself out of gatekeeper status and into title contention with a win over “Rumble.”
Either way, this fight has the potential to be an explosive one for MMA fans.