After UFC 220 this past weekend, the champion of the UFC’s light heavyweight division has not changed. Daniel Cormier was able to defeat Volkan Oezdemir by a second round TKO to retain his title. The 205 pound weight class is pretty shallow when it comes to worthy contenders at the moment. Many believe that Alexander Gustafsson has earned his shot to rematch the champion after losing their first fight by split decision back at UFC 192. There are not very many young up and coming fighters in the division either. But with that being said, we take a look at the UFC’s light heavyweight division and put together the five fights that would be great to see in 2018. This is the UFC Light Heavyweight Wishlist for 2018.
#1: Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson 2
Daniel Cormier defended his light heavyweight title for the third time after finishing Volkan Oezdemir in the second round of their title fight at UFC 220. Now what is next for the champion? There has been talk of Cormier moving up and challenging heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic. Cormier has made it clear, with Cain Velasquez coming back, he doesn’t want to move up anytime soon. So, with that fight out of the picture, Alexander Gustafsson is the most deserving of the title shot at 205.
Gustafsson has racked up two straight victories since losing to Cormier during their first meeting at UFC 192. That two fight win streak includes a win over Jan Blachowicz, and a fifth round knockout of the year candidate against Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Teixeira in May. With those two wins, we should see Gustafsson challenging the champion at a later date during 2018. The fight could also very well be one of Cormier’s final few fights as he has made it clear that he will retire once he turns 40.
#2: Glover Teixeira vs. Ovince St. Preux 2
Glover Teixeira had thought that he had done enough to maybe get a crack at Daniel Cormier following his most previous outing. He last fought in the Octagon last month at UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. dos Anjos when he took on Misha Cirkunov. He got the job done very early, finishing Cirkunov by TKO in under three minutes. After the fight, he made sure to go speak to Cormier, who was doing commentary that night for Fox, and he made sure that he made his voice heard. He wanted the next title shot.
Unfortunately, there is no title shot just yet for Teixeira. Instead, it’s looking like Gustafsson, who beat Teixeira, could get the next shot. Teixeira should still stay active and take on other top fighters to prove that he belongs in the position he is in. The next opponent for Teixeira should be Ovince St. Preux. Glover already holds a victory over OSP, but St. Preux has looked great since.
St. Preux’s last three wins have come against Marcos Rogerio de Lima, former middleweight title challenger Yushin Okami, and TUF 19 champion, Corey Anderson. The most recent win was against Anderson at UFC 217 in a fight that he accepted on short notice. He was losing the fight until landing a head kick that finished the fight in the third. Teixeira needs to stay active for a title shot, and OSP needs a big win for a possible title shot. The fight could end up resulting in a title shot for either man. The UFC should look to book this fight for that reason in 2018.
#3: Jimi Manuwa vs. Mauricio Rua
This fight had been rumored to possibly take place at UFC London, but Jimi Manuwa has claimed that “Shogun” rejected the offer. This would be a great fight to make with Rua winning his last three in a row. Manuwa, on the other hand, lost his most recent fight to former title challenger, Oezdemir. Manuwa is still a threat to anyone in the 205 pound weight class with 15 knockout victories to his name. They are both very skilled on the feet, each having at least 15 knockouts on their record.
It would be a very exciting fight that could put Manuwa back in title contention with a win. If Rua wins, he could end up fighting for the belt he lost to Jon Jones at UFC 128. Manuwa is currently booked to fight at the card coming up in London against Jan Blachowicz. If he can get past Blachowicz for the second time, a fight with Rua would make sense for both fighters. It would be an exciting fight, with a possible title shot on the line. Hopefully this is a fight that the UFC can end up putting together at some point during 2018.
#4: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Gokhan Saki
Oezdemir is currently sitting towards the top of the rankings, and Gokhan Saki isn’t even ranked. If Saki can recover from his current injury, a few wins could get him a fight with Volkan.
Saki is a former kickboxing champion and is one of the best kickboxers out there. He made his much anticipated UFC debut at UFC Fight Night: Saint Preux vs. Okami against Luis Henrique da Silva. The fight was very exciting and Saki ended up winning by knockout in the first round. After the fight he stated that he really needed to work on his cardio for any future fights. He was then scheduled to fight Khalil Rountree Jr. at UFC 219, but suffered an injury that forced him out of the fight.
Oezdemir is coming off a loss to the current light heavyweight champion, Cormier, at UFC 220. He lost the fight by TKO in the second round. Oezdemir has the power in his hands to finish the fight in “No Time,” hence the nickname. Two of the three victories he has gathered in the UFC came by way of knockout in under one minute.
This fight would be a war as both fighters love to stand and trade. If Saki can gather a couple big wins, this is a fight that the UFC should not hesitate to book.
#5: Jon Jones vs. Anthony Johnson
This is a fight that is very far fetched, but everybody wants to see it happen. At the moment, Jon Jones is currently looking like he could face a suspension for failing a drug test prior to UFC 214. About a week ago, Jones was able to pass a polygraph test that proved he took those banned substances without knowing. His suspension could be shortened if that is the case. Anthony Johnson recently retired after his loss to the champion, Cormier, at UFC 210, his second chance at gold.
This fight was booked at UFC 187, but a hit and run involving Jones caused its cancellation. “Rumble” ended up taking on Cormier that night for the vacant title and lost the fight by third round submission. This fight has been a fans dream, but Jones’ out of the cage issues ruined it. It would be a very exciting fight for both fighters to come back to. The UFC should book the fight if both fighters end up returning to action in 2018.
The 205 pound division in the UFC is shallow, but these would be five entertaining fights. Some may not be very realistic, but would still be very exciting if they were to happen. Hopefully the UFC can somehow manage to make these fights work as they would entertain any fan that tunes in.
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