Should Cormier walk away a winner at UFC 173, there will be the question of whether he should wait for his title shot or remain active. Cormier said he is willing to wait, and that is exactly what he should do.
Under normal circumstances this wouldn't be an issue. The timing would have worked out as such that the champion and next contender were on a similar timetable for their fight, but that is not the case in the light heavyweight division.
The next title eliminator is this weekend between Cormier and Henderson, but the title fight between Jones and Gustafsson has not yet been set. It has been rumored for a future date in Sweden, per Matt Erickson of USA Today. That would mean Cormier would have sit out until late 2014 at the earliest, and potentially into 2015, before earning his title shot.
Waiting for a title shot sounds like a good idea in theory, but we have seen it play out negatively as well.
In fact, it recently happened in the light heavyweight division with Henderson. He was slated to face Jon Jones, but he had to pull out with an injury. Henderson has never regained that title shot. There is always a possibility of getting injured, but there also are times where other fighters usurp your role.
That is unlikely to happen to Cormier.
Jones has wrecked the division. He has defeated many of the top fighters, and he is not fond of having rematches. He enjoys new challenges. Also, he has a history with Cormier. Jones' dominance against other potential contenders, and his backstory with Cormier, make this a less risky venture for Cormier should he choose to wait on the sidelines.
Should Gustafsson defeat Jones, the UFC will need another contender waiting in the wings. Cormier is the appropriate choice for that potential scenario too.
Taking another fight would be more of a risk for Cormier.
No matter how big a favorite he might be, and no matter who the UFC would chose to book him against, anything can happen in MMA. A fight inside the Octagon comes with an inherit risk. That is one Cormier does not need to take with a title shot looming.
Furthermore, the UFC should make Cormier wait. The organization is lacking premier fighters and fights. It needs stars to sell pay-per-views, and Cormier vs. Jones is one of the biggest fights it has in the pipeline.
It is always great to see top fighters in action, but fans can be patient when they see a fight they want waiting in the wings. As such would be the case if Cormier earns his title shot at UFC 173.
For Cormier and the UFC, this is all about risk vs. reward. The risk is much too great for Cormier, in victory at UFC 173, to fight again until the title fight. There is too much interest behind the fight, too great of an risk factor that could derail the plans and far too much money to risk losing in putting Cormier in another big fight where he's not contending for a title.
Cormier should just head back to AKA and prepare for an extended period of training solely for the championship.