It appears that Daniel Cormier and the UFC have conflicting ideas regarding what’s next for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Cormier spent much of the day Monday engaged in a Twitter back-and-forth with Jimi Manuwa all while UFC President Dana White was telling ESPN that Jon Jones will get the next crack at Cormier in late July, assuming Jones is ready and willing.
It all started Monday morning with an innocuous tweet from Manuwa that read: “Take the fight Daniel.” This was enough to get the ball rolling for Cormier who went on the offensive with tweets such as “I did. I’ll smash u any day bum! U will get embarrassed. U and I both know it. Now u get what u asked for. U won’t last a round.”
The implication from both Cormier and Manuwa is that a bout agreement has been presented and both men are waiting for the other to sign. Manuwa also accused Cormier of holding back on signing for a fight so that he can “catch Jones rusty.” Cormier responded that Jones needs to “get his sea legs back.” Cormier has been consistent in advocating for a fight with Jimi Manuwa since the moment he defeated Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 in Buffalo less than two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Dana White told ESPN that there is a definite possibility of a Cormier-Jones fight in July. He said that if Jones is willing to fight in late July, at UFC 214 on July 29 to be exact, and if he isn’t interested in a tune-up fight, then Cormier-Jones II will be next. “Cormier is available to fight on July 8, but that time frame doesn’t work for Jon Jones,” White said. “If Jon Jones is ready to fight on July 29, we’ll see the Jones vs Cormier rematch, finally.”
So while Cormier is the champion, and has at least two potential matchups in front of him, it looks like Jon Jones is the one in the driver’s seat.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: It’s interesting that July 8 isn’t a potential date for Jones to fight, as that’s the big UFC 213 event from Las Vegas. Perhaps there are issues with promoting a fight in Nevada while Jones is still technically suspended (his suspension is up just a few days before UFC 213), or perhaps UFC already has a big fight lined up for that card such as Bisping vs. GSP and they don’t want to double up with two more expensive fighters on the same card.
One thing White didn’t touch on is the issue of would Cormier-Jones be the main event of UFC 214. He has said recently that he would not headline a pay-per-view with Jones until he could prove to be reliable. It will be interesting to see if White goes back on that word, or if he actually puts Cormier-Jones underneath another title fight with a lesser drawing champion. Demetrious Johnson and Tyron Woodley would both work from a timing perspective for that card, but are nowhere close to the draws that Jones and Cormier are against each other.
If Jones opts to take a tune-up fight and the title fight goes to Manuwa, I would like to see Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson again. Gustafsson has a date with Glover Teixeira in May so the timing is not ideal, but if Gustafsson comes out of that fight without injury and Jones doesn’t want to go straight to a title fight, Jones-Gustafsson would be a great fight for later this summer.
TUESDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-UFC has released welterweight Michael Graves after a third-party investigation into allegations of abuse by his then fiancee. Graves was suspended in October after he was charged with misdemeanor battery in Atlanta. The criminal charges are still pending. (SOURCE)
-Former WWE wrestlers Tommy Dreamer and Bully Ray told TMZ Sports that Shane McMahon, son of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, should be in UFC. “The world should have Shane McMahon enter UFC because he is a real badass and he would fare well in UFC,” Dreamer said. “I think he would choke some dudes out or knock them out.”
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)