UFC has just completed it's second edition of UFC on Fuel and its first ever fight card in Sweden. Once again, the UFC knocked it out of the park. What a night of fights!
Without question, Alexander Gustafsson is an up and coming talent at 205 lbs. Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, Phil Davis and probably Thiago Silva: These are the up-and-coming talents that are the cream of the crop of the rising Jon Jones generation of Light Heavyweight fighters.
As we see Rampage Jackson, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua, Forrest Griffin, Antônio Rogério Nogueira (Lil Nog) and Dan Henderson age and start retiring, those are the fighters who will replace them as the elites of the UFC Light Heavyweight Division.
The trouble is, none of this new generation of fighters has the tools it will take to beat the current champion, Jon Jones.
Mark my words, the man that beats Mr. Bones Jones will be some young phenom who we haven't heard of yet.
And contrary to popular speculation, Jonny "Bones" Jones has absolutely no reason to leave the 205 lbs division anytime soon. Why leave when you're the reigning champion? More importantly, if you are not yet the most dominant champion your division has ever seen, the job just ain't done yet. Until Jones has at least six title defenses, don't expect Jonny to fight anywhere outside of 205 lbs.
The hard truth is that Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida are the only real threats to Jon Jones right now. Any one of them will have to get lucky to beat Jones and all three are getting closer and closer to retirement.
Who do you want to see Alexander Gustafsson fight next?
So having said all that, does Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson get a shot at Jon Jones' title?
Yes he does. Right now, Gustafsson is just one big win away from a title shot and here is your short list of names that would be big enough to make it happen: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida, Rashad Evans, Dan Henderson and ironically enough, a rematch with "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis.
Shogun and Machida are available, but I think Alexander would lose to either man. Avenging his only loss against Phil Davis would be the best option in my opinion, and that's no easy fight either. If Gustafsson faces and beats any one of these three fighters, he gets to fight for the title.
That would put him next in line after Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson.
Barring an unexpected upset, Jon Jones will still be the reigning champion if and when it is Gustafsson's turn to fight for the belt. That will be a very short night for "The Mauler." Jones will likely finish him by brutal ground and pound or submission in the first round.
So why schedule the fight at all?
Just because we don't think a fighter can beat the champion does not mean you don't make the fight happen anyways. You never know when "the challenger who can't possibly win" turns out to be the next Frankie Edgar or the next Cain Velasquez. If a fighter has earned a shot at the title, just schedule the fight and let the chips fall where they may.
After challenging Jon Jones for the title and getting beaten in devastating fashion, Mr. Gustafsson will fall back into the ranks of elite Light Heavyweights. Expect "The Mauler" play the same role as Shogun Rua did in Pride FC: The elite non-champion high octane fighter who puts on some of the most exciting fights the UFC has ever seen. Alexander is just 25 years old, so we can expect him to be a big name in the UFC for years to come.