The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Aug. 12 announced that light heavyweight champion Jon Jones had suffered an injury in training and would not defend his title against Daniel Cormier at UFC 178. Instead, the match was rescheduled for UFC 182 on Jan. 3, leaving Cormier as the challenger and No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson out in the cold.
Gustafsson was Jones’ original UFC 178 opponent before an injury forced him to withdraw and left the door open for Cormier. With Gustafsson now fully healthy, the Swede’s trainer believes “The Mauler” deserves the title shot that was belonged to him and thinks Cormier should go back to waiting in line. Jones defeated Gustafsson by unanimous decision at UFC 165 in September.
“We are not happy,” Andreas Michael told Sherdog.com. “Alex is the number one contender; he got injured and [the] UFC went to Plan B. Now if that fight is not happening, of course Alex and Jones should be right back. That is the fight we want and the fans want. Everyone wants that fight because the previous fight was one of the best fights ever. Alex deserves the fight. Who has ‘DC’ fought? Has he earned a title fight? Who has he beat in the light heavy division?”
The serious heat generated by Jones and Cormier during their brawl at an Aug. 4 press conference in Las Vegas has proven compelling to fans, as genuine rivalries are rare treats in MMA. The UFC seems determined to capitalize on the attention. However, Michael does not care about the marketing angle. He believes fans would rather see the rematch between Gustafsson and Jones, with the winner facing Cormier.
“Just because they fought at a press conference, that doesn’t mean a lot,” Michael said. “Alex and Jones is what the people want to see. Jones will beat ‘DC’ easily, if he cannot take Jones down, which he will not. Jones’ striking and reach will give ‘DC’ serious problems. I think ‘DC’ is a great athlete and so is Jones. It’s a great fight for the winner of the Alex-Jones rematch, but not before that. Let ‘DC’ fight Anthony Johnson or somebody else of [that] caliber.”
Cormier, a former heavyweight, has posted back-to-back wins over Patrick Cummins and former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Dan Henderson since moving to 205 pounds.
“You should earn your way to the top, you know?” Michael said. “These days, it seems just anyone can get a title shot. Earning your ranking in your division, doesn’t that mean anything? Beating the top guys to earn a title shot, doesn’t that mean anything?”
Although angry with the UFC’s decision to keep Gustafsson on the sidelines, Michael, a former boxing coach for the Swedish Olympic team, made it clear that he does not have anything personal against Cormier or any other fighter jockeying for a title shot.
“All these fighters are great, great athletes,” he said. “They all want the same thing; they just got to earn it, that’s all. Not by fighting at a press conference but by working their way up the rankings. I respect all the fighters with all my heart -- they are just doing their job -- but it is not right that Alex doesn’t get the January slot against Jones. That fight would make more pay-per-view buys and also make more sense. That fight is already a proven success. Just look at their first war.”