So far this year we’ve seen Conor McGregor and Nicco Montano stripped of their UFC titles. There are a few more candidates who could face the same fate sooner than later. Who’s next?
The first candidate could possibly be the UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier. The double champ expressed a desire to defend both titles since claiming the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 226 in July. Cormier also gave a deadline until he officially calls it a career – March 20th, his birthday. Cormier is nearly three months removed from earning double champ status and stated that he expects his next fight to be against Brock Lesnar, presumably around Superbowl weekend.
With only a short period of time to shed off the heavyweight pounds, time is not on Cormier’s side. He can still defend his light heavyweight title on December 8th at UFC 231 or December 29th at UFC 232, but as of right now that doesn’t appear to be an option. The UFC already reportedly attempted to set up an interim light heavyweight bout for UFC 230 last week.
Brett Okamoto reported that Dana White is interested in setting up Jon Jones vs.Alexander Gustafsson 2 at UFC 232, which is likely going to be for a title. Cormier is in an odd situation, but given that he is due for retirement in a few months, it’d be nice to see him relinquish the title on his own terms. It’s been 9 months since he successfully defended his title against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220. There is no rush to strip Cormier, but you can never tell with the UFC.
The next candidate is TJ Dillashaw. Dillashaw expressed his desire to move down to 125 lbs with the intentions of dethroning newly crowned UFC flyweight champ, Henry Cejudo. Should this bout occur in December, this leaves Marlon Moraes, Dominick Cruz, Raphael Assuncao and Jimmie Rivera without a title opportunity. They could always just fight each other in a mini tournament to determine the #1 bantamweight contender while Dillashaw either wins or loses against Cejudo, but where is the fun in that?
The UFC have proven to be interim title happy in the past when presented with the opportunity so perhaps they try to book two of the four aforementioned contenders in an interim title fight at UFC 230? Or maybe sometime after Dillashaw-Cejudo takes place. It’d be interesting to hear Dana White’s take on Dillashaw moving back up should he win the UFC 125 lb title. He hasn’t been too keen on allowing fighters to abandon a division upon winning the title or keeping both titles unless your name is Conor McGregor.
Amanda Nunes is jumping up a deserted weight class to face a terrifying champion in Cris Cyborg at UFC 232. Win or lose, there is no denying Ketlen Vieira is next in line for a 135-lb title shot. Vieira was pulled from her bout against Tonya Evinger last week due to a knee injury so there is no timetable on her return. Should Nunes’ return to bantamweight not take place within the UFC’s 2019 schedule, there is a chance they decide to create an interim title or perhaps have her relinquish the UFC 135-lb title if she manages to pull off the upset against Cyborg. After all, a win over Cyborg would likely result in an immediate rematch.