Jon Jones: Are Cormier and Gustafsson Afraid to Fight for Title Shot?

John HeinisSenior Analyst IMarch 9, 2014

Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones enters the octagon before his fight against Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) during their light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been accused of ducking a rematch with top contender Alexander Gustafsson, as well as a bout with undefeated former Olympian Daniel Cormier. 

However, "Bones" maintains that he welcomes any and all challengers at 205 pounds and questions if perhaps Gustafsson and Cormier are purposely avoiding an obvious fight with each other. 

I see DC congratulating Alexander and making comments about waiting his turn now.. I wonder if they're afraid to fight each other?

— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) March 9, 2014

Gustafsson headlined UFC Fight Night 37 Saturday night in London, scoring a vicious second-round knockout over previously undefeated prospect Jimi Manuwa.

As Jones noted, Cormier, the No. 5 light heavyweight in the UFC's official rankings, acknowledged "The Mauler" is next in line.

Good luck @AlexTheMauler in ur title fight. Dang! Haha my time will come. DC

— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) March 8, 2014

For what it's worth, Cormier was quick to respond to Jones and state that he had no problem throwing down with Gustafsson in a title eliminator to decide who gets the next crack at UFC gold.  

He also noted that he doesn't think Jones is avoiding a fight with anyone. 

@JonnyBones I would fight @AlexTheMauler to earn shot if @ufc wants me to. Sadly i don't think ur gonna get away w/o fightin both of us DC

— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) March 9, 2014

"@td_ssam: @dc_mma DC, does it seem that @JonnyBones is trying to duck at least one of you two? LoL" he's champ, he isnt afraid of any1

— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) March 9, 2014

Gustafsson battled Jones for the light heavyweight strap at UFC 165 in September in a 25-minute classic, losing a very close, at least somewhat controversial decision. 

The back-and-forth technical battle was widely regarded as 2013's Fight of the Year.

Jones, who has won 10 straight bouts with eight finishes, looks to make it seven straight title defenses against Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 on April 26.

Is booking Cormier vs. Gustafsson in a title eliminator the right move for the UFC's light heavyweight division, or would it be smarter to keep two viable contenders in the division who are primed for a title shot? 

 

John Heinis is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA editor for eDraft.com.