UFC 166: Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson Is the Fight to Make

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2013

Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) fights against Roy Nelson (blue gloves) in their heavyweight bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

Unpopular opinion alert: Daniel Cormier has not done enough to deserve a shot at Jon Jones when he walks into the light heavyweight division.

Probably-only-slightly-less-unpopular opinion alert: Alexander Gustafsson shouldn't have gotten an immediate rematch against Jon Jones after UFC 165, and does need at least a single fight before getting another chance.

Likely-most-popular-opinion alert: Make them fight each other.

After his win over Roy Nelson at UFC 166, Cormier is on his way to 205 to wrest the title from Jones, but he hasn't exactly inspired excitement as his opposition has grown in stature.

He exploded into the public consciousness with a romp of Antonio Silva in 2011, then rousted Josh Barnett with similar enthusiasm to secure his place in the heavyweight top 10.

Unfortunately, his momentum was derailed a little by the agonizing death of Strikeforce, his home for those fights, and now in his two bouts in the UFC he's done a whole bunch of nothing.

He held Frank Mir against the cage for fifteen minutes on FOX to pick up a win, and he touched up a wheezing Nelson from distance for fifteen minutes at UFC 166 to pick up another. He's 13-0 with an Olympic pedigree and a pretty marketable personality, but there's almost no evidence over the past year that he's something to get excited about.

So with that considered, why not make him fight the guy that everyone has been excited about for the past month? Gustafsson pulled off a starmaking turn at UFC 165, a true Rocky moment where the gutsy challenger won't go away and gives an arrogant champion all he can handle before taking a loss.

Let's not forget how Rocky II played out either, folks. But that's another piece for another day.

For Gustafsson to get back to Jones, it's become accepted that he'll have to fight someone else. Booking him around the same time as Jones to keep their schedules in line seems to be on the table, and there's nothing to suggest that Cormier couldn't be ready by February.

He was, after all, cornering Cain Velasquez in his title fight within minutes of his own bout ending.

A Cormier-Gustafsson meeting would give both men what they need.

Cormier could prove that he's truly elite, not the up-and-down guy he's been since winning the Strikeforce Grand Prix. He could earn his fight with Jones in the cage with his performance, not on Twitter with his personality.

Gustafsson could prove that the Jones bout was no fluke, that he really is getting exponentially better and really is the best hope to dethrone the seemingly invincible champion. A win over Cormier, who is a stylistic nightmare similar to the one we all believed Jones to be, would definitely prove he's still at the top.

So book it. Put these two guys together and see who earns their chance at Jon Jones. It gives both men the bump they'll need to fight for the title, and there's a good chance they'll bring out the best in one another knowing what's on the line.