No. 5-ranked UFC light heavyweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has been on a tear as of late, winning eight straight bouts to rest on the cusp of title contention in the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
After getting released from the Octagon after several years missing weight attempting to cut all the way down 170 pounds, “Rumble” finally settled in at his natural home of 205 pounds, starching Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and outclassing Phil Davis at UFC on FOX 12 and UFC 172, respectively.
But he was left in a bit of an odd situation; that is, until No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson was forced out of his anticipated UFC 178 rematch with champion Jon Jones on September 27 with a torn meniscus.
Jones was then matched with No. 2 –ranked Daniel Cormier, and they got into a massive media spectacle of a brawl that resulted in some of the most heated trash talk in MMA history. Soon thereafter, Jones tore his own meniscus and underwent surgery, rescheduling his match-up with Cormier for UFC 182 on January 3, 2015.
Gustafsson was left out in the cold even after calling out for the fight that was already his. Despite his manager saying it was title fight or bust for “The Mauler,” the UFC confirmed “DC” would keep his spot against Jones.
And it got worse for Gustafsson. UFC President Dana White went on record saying that he would likely have to fight again, citing a match-up with “Rumble” as a potentially exciting prospect. From the sound of things, Johnson likes the fight, telling MMA Junkie Radio that he’d even be willing to go to Sweden to fight “The Mauler”:
“I’m down to fight whoever. If they want to give me Alex, that’s fine. We’re all going to have to fight eventually, one day. It’s bound to happen, so why not? I’ll hate it, but all right, I guess I’m going to Sweden to whip some ass.”
We’ll have to wait and see if the blockbuster pairing comes to fruition, but if Gustafsson is forced to fight again in order to retain his title shot (again), a date with “Rumble” is a no-brainer. If he chooses to wait, Gustafsson could end up being out of the cage for a-year-and-a-half depending on the outcome of Jones vs. Cormier.
Should Gustafsson risk his lofty status by facing the steamrolling “Rumble” to prove a point?
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