Chances are most people aren’t mentioning “Shogun” Rua as a likely opponent for Daniel Cormier, if and when he defends the light-heavyweight belt one more time. But as far as”DC’s” concerned, the legend could be in the running…
Since Cormier took out Stipe Miocic at UFC 226, and laid claim to the heavyweight crown, there’s been a lot of talk about if he’ll fight at 205 again. Cormier has repeatedly said he plans to retire next March when he turns 40, and the UFC has already announced that he’s going to fight Brock Lesnar.
Well, immediately after UFC 226, Cormier said he would defend the light-heavyweight crown, provided a contender did something “special”. Since Alexander Gustafsson is currently ranked #1, and because he only lost to Cormier by split decision in 2015, buzz about a rematch has never gone away. So, the consensus has been that if Gustafsson defeats Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 227 next month, the UFC might look at Cormier – Gustafsson II (provided Jon Jones isn’t in the mix).
“I think (Rua) might be on a longer win streak than Gustafsson if he wins his next fight, so why doesn’t he deserve it?” Cormier asked. “He’s a former champion. He would be in the running, too. (Alexander) Gustafsson needs to do something very spectacular to get that title shot.”
“This guy’s a living legend, a champion and one of the greatest fighters of all time,” Cormier said. “That is one guy at 205 that I would fight.”
How about that? Now, while it’s true that Rua has won three in a row, and Gustafsson has won two, the latter’s last victory came against the #3 ranked Glover Teixeira. Rua’s was against Gian Villante. Further, Rua is about to fight Anthony Smith on July 22nd, who is moving up from 185 and isn’t ranked. Gustafsson’s next opponent, the hard hitting Oezdemir, is ranked #2.
So, provided both men win their next fights, the case for Rua receiving a title shot over Gustafsson (if you believe in all this ranking’s stuff), is pretty weak. But, we are talking about a sport where Lesnar has been tapped to fight Cormier for the heavyweight belt, despite having no official wins on his record since 2010.
In other words, if Rua goes out and scores an emphatic win, and Gustafsson barely gets by Oezdemir, you just never know. Although, it should also be noted that in the aforementioned interview, Cormier reported that he broke his finger at UFC 226, so, that could shorten the timeline for “DC” to fit in two more bouts (prior to nex March). You also have to wonder if the UFC wants to run the risk of having Cormier compete before facing Lesnar, and having him get injured or defeated.