When news broke last night that Alexander Gustafsson will be facing off with Jimi Manuwa at the March 8 UFC in London, many MMA fans were quite surprised. After all, “Gus” was basically thought to have another 205-pound title shot wrapped up after his thrilling performance against champion Jon Jones at UFC 165, a fight that more than a few people thought he won.
If “The Mauler” wasn’t facing off with Jones, Daniel Cormier seemed like the next logical choice. Instead Gustafsson was booked to face “Little Nog,” who promptly pulled out of the fight, as he’s become known for.
Well then, why didn’t Cormier get the fight with "Gus?"
Well, “DC” is planning to cut down to 205-pounds to avoid facing his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight crown. As an Olympic wrestler, Cormier’s struggles with weight cutting are well documented. He was even forced to withdraw from the 2008 Games due to kidney trouble.
And that’s something that Dana White isn’t comfortable with. Speaking at yesterday’s UFC Fight Night 31:"Fight For The Troops 3" media conference call, White expressed his uncertainty with booking “DC” at light heavyweight right away:
"Cormier has never made it to 205 before. The fight is going to be over in London and Manuwa is undefeated. He's undefeated and he's a big, nasty striker and he's a light heavyweight."
Indeed Cormier is untested at light heavyweight, and he even recently said on “UFC Tonight” that he was willing to fight Gustafsson if he did not have to cut weight overseas. “The Mauler’s” next fight is in London, so Cormier was out. Heavy-hitting Manuwa stepped in for the biggest bout of his life.
Is Cormier’s extreme refusal to fight Velasquez causing a major shift in his career? He’s been effective at heavyweight despite not finishing a UFC bout as of yet. With his medical history, the cut may take too much of a toll on his body.
Also, stating that you’ll only cut weight in your home country is a bit of an outlandish demand. It may be difficult and even horrible, but one would think that you go where the big fights lie as a top-ranked member of UFC. Cormier has a ton of hype surrounding him. He’s a great fighter, and there are new rumors about his next move all the time.
But at some point, should he stop making it so difficult on himself and just take the best fight he can?