As questions intensify regarding the status of light heavyweight contender Jon Jones and his availability for his upcoming title fight against Daniel Cormier, people around the sport are already wondering who would step up in his place should Jones not be able to make it to the fight, which is scheduled for April 23. Should Alexander Gustafsson step in and try to recreate the magical fight he and Cormier had back in 2015? What about Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, who is coming off two wins after losing to Cormier for the vacant light heavyweight belt? Who will step in and save UFC 197?
The answer to that question is quite easy: pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson.
Yes, the guy who everyone critiques for not selling enough pay-per-views to headline the show — hence why he is in the co-main event slot for this event — is the one the UFC should be looking to as its “savior” of UFC 197.
Yes, “Mighty Mouse” isn’t exactly a needle-mover when it comes to convincing fans to order a UFC pay-per-view, but that shouldn’t be reason enough for the UFC to scramble and try to force an ill-advised light heavyweight title bout with Cormier against whomever fills in the blank.
The UFC is in the money-making business. However, in situations like these, the UFC could do much worse than to have the man who is widely considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter put his belt on the line.
So, a lot of chatter is going on about the UFC looking for a replacement. The company can hush that chatter without looking far down the card to find the new main event for UFC 197, should Jones be forced out due to legal issues.
Maybe it’s the purist in me, but I will gladly put down the $60-plus to watch arguably one of the greatest fighters of our generation. You can actually make the case the Johnson’s title defense against Henry Cejudo will be more interesting than Jones-Cormier. Cejudo, many people seem to forget, is an undefeated MMA fighter with an Olympic wrestling gold medalist. It is undoubtedly one of Johnson’s most intriguing fights in some time, while we have already seen the Jones-Cormier fight just last year and the outcome was pretty clear.
Johnson is on a pretty clear course to make history and break Anderson Silva’s consecutive title defense streak if he keeps up this pace. He currently sits at seven title defenses, whereas Silva had 10. Johnson is also the only flyweight champion in the promotion’s history, another big highlight among his accolades. He has fought the who’s who of the division and has made it look easy for the most part during his streak.
Cejudo has be pegged as the next big thing since he announced his entry into MMA competition. Should Johnson get past Cejudo, the talks of us seeing the greatest ever should intensify greatly.
So, let’s not forget about Demetrious Johnson. He is the type of fighter we will be telling our grand kids about. We were able to watch him fight live. Jones and Cormier might have the better story and the more widespread name recognition, but they lack the historical aspect Johnson is striving to attain. That might not be enough to sell as many pay-per-views as Zuffa would like, but as far as fights go — which is the real reason we tune in, after all — it really doesn’t get much better than Johnson vs. Cejudo. If Jon Jones doesn’t get his way when he sees a judge on Thursday morning, no worries. A Johnson-Cejudo title fight is more than enough to fill my appetite for great, competitive fights.