Even though MMA fans and media have some questions about who is the next challenger for the UFC Light Heavyweight title, there is a reason to believe that Alexander Gustafsson is a dark horse candidate for the next title shot. Gustafsson is a fighter who already has a pre-existing history with Daniel Cormier as he lost to Cormier via split decision at UFC 192. Therefore, if he manages to defeat Glover Texiera at UFC Fight Night 109, he becomes one of the top names that the company will consider for Cormier’s next title defense. This is because Gustafsson vs. Cormier is an easier and safer fight to promote the company. For instance, the company can film several video packages detailing how he was the last man other than Jon Jones to be competitive with him during an entire fight, and they could say with a few adjustments he could win the rematch. Furthermore, Gustafsson to this point in his career hasn’t been in any trouble outside the octagon which means that the company can offer their fans more reassurances that he will show up to fight. On the other hand, over the past two years, Jon Jones has been involved in legal troubles and a performance-enhancing drugs scandal. In fact, according to Fox Sports, Jones was stripped of his title and suspended indefinitely in April of 2015 for “leaving the scene of an accident, which is a felony charge in New Mexico due to one of the drivers suffering a fractured wrist and arm.” Due to this incident, Jones was unable to compete in the Octagon for almost a year. However, shortly after his return against Ovince St. Preux, Jones once again got suspended, but this time it was for a performance-enhancing drug violation. According to ESPN, Jones was suspended for a year by the United States Anti-Doping Agency on November 7th of 2016 (“retroactive to July 6, the date Jones was pulled from a UFC 200 pay-per-view title fight”). This is because Jones tested positive for “the banned substances clomiphene and letrozole” which can be found in male enchantment drugs. As a result, the company will have an issue with getting the fans to buy tickets to the event because he hasn’t shown that he can be relied upon to show up on fight night. Not only is he more reliable than Jones but his fight is easier to promote than the Jimi Manuwa fight. Jimi Manuwa has no prior history with Cormier; as a result, the company would have to search for logical reasons why Manuwa can beat him which is a lot harder than promoting a rematch to a close fight.
In addition to having a pre-existing history with Cormier, he also has a history with Jones as he lost to him via a close unanimous decision at UFC 165. As a result, if he were to beat Cormier in a potential rematch the company can promote Gustafsson vs. Jones 2 to lessen the blow of losing the rematch between Cormier and Jones. If this fight were to happen, the company could book Manuwa vs. Jones somewhere on the card as a way to begin to put his problems outside the octagon into the background. Once the main event is over, the company can have Jones face off against the winner to start the promotion for the next title fight.
However, if the company decides to book Jones versus Cormier for the fourth time, they should ask another light heavyweight fighter to go through a fight camp in case one of them can’t go. This is because Jones and Cormier have been scheduled to fight on three separate occasions, but the fight has only come to fruition once; due to Jones having legal problems or Cormier sustaining an injury.As a result, the company would have plenty of time to think about/create backup promotional posters and video packages instead of doing a lackluster job because you have time constraints. If the company were to follow this train of thought, Alexander Gustafsson would be the ideal fighter to have as an alternate because of his history with both men.