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Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is running out of worthy challengers. He’s already dismantled Mauricio Rua, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Quinton Jackson. With the exception of Dan Henderson and Alexander Gustafsson, there aren’t many options left for the Jackson’s MMA at 205.
Of course, that too could change should “Shogun” put another loss on the résumé of Gustafsson, and the light heavyweight waters could become incredibly murky if Machida defeats Henderson at UFC 157.
As much as I like Dan as a fighter, it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario in which he makes it past Machida, which means there’s a whole lot riding on Saturday night’s fight for Alex.
“Shogun” will serve as Gustafsson’s first elite test. Thus far the Swedish prospect has stumbled just once in his career (a submission loss to Phil Davis back at UFC 112), and he’s managed to rebound in impressive fashion since.
Alex has now amassed five consecutive victories inside the Octagon, and if he can put “Shogun” away Saturday night, he’ll have made a strong case for title contention.
Then again, if Rua walks away victorious Saturday night, the division will take on a translucency that we haven’t seen from any other division sans middleweight, where Anderson has cleaned house for more than half a decade. Even welterweight, where GSP has been a dominant force for years, has a handful of fighters who appear well suited to challenge for the belt.
If Mauricio wins Saturday night, we lose one of two potential contenders to Jones’ title, and as likeable as Rua is, that’s the last thing I want to see.