Just hours after the shock news that Jon Jones has been removed from his UFC 200 headlining light-heavyweight title fight with Daniel Cormier due to an anti-doping violation, big name fighters are already offering to step in on short notice to take on the champion.
Remarkably, despite only recently achieving his dream of becoming a UFC champion in the middleweight division, Michael Bisping was one of the first fighters to state that he’d fight Cormier on just two days notice.
“2 months, 2 weeks, 2 days…… Hmmm middle vs light heavy???? I stand by my words. I’d do it!” Bisping stated on Twitter.
“Ok for the record. I WILL fight DC. I love him, but if the @ufc need me, I’m in! @danawhite @lorenzofertitta,” Bisping confirmed soon afterwards.
Former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi was set to fight Thiago Santos in the prelims of UFC 200, but the No.8 ranked star had no hesitation in declaring his willingness to move back up to 205lbs on Saturday night against DC.
“I was the last LHW Strikeforce Champion. I will be the next LHW @ufc Champion if given this fight. @danawhite,” Mousasi wrote.
Ironically, early in the day Mousasi had admitted to reporters that he was just coming to terms with the fact that a title shot wasn’t within reach at the moment, but when this unexpected opportunity arose, he did his best to try to grab it with both hands, drumming up considerable support on social media.
“The fans have spoken @danawhite,” Mousasi wrote later. “Everyone wants to see @dc_mma vs myself. Give the fans what they are demanding! @ufc”
Meanwhile, Alexander Gustafsson, who dropped a razor thin split decision to DC back in October of last year announced that he’d be willing to hop on a plane from Sweden to the U.S in order to get a second chance to fight for the belt.
“With the right terms, I am ready to jump on a plane, my bags are packed. @danawhite @lorenzofertitta @dc_mma @ufc,” Gustafsson announced on Twitter.
“I can be in Vegas by 10pm tonight, just waiting for the call. @danawhite @lorenzofertitta @Ufc @dc_mma”
For the record, a distraught Cormier did state at a hastily arranged press conference late last night that he was still willing to fight at UFC 200 if the UFC could find him a late replacement.
It would be something of an emotional rollercoaster for DC if that was the case, but even if his heart wasn’t in it after focusing on Jon Jones for so many months, the financial aspect of being on potentially the biggest selling pay-per-view in UFC history would be all the motivation he’d need to agree to it.
Given that they only have 48hrs notice, the UFC has three strong options to choose from here, so it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.
The most likely play here would be to go with Mousasi who was going to fight at the event anyway, has competed at 205lbs many times before, has the extra spice of having been a former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion, and as such is a credible opponent for DC under these circumstances.
Bisping Vs DC would arguably be the biggest draw of the three, and the ‘Champion Vs Champion’ angle would be fitting for UFC 200, but there’s a lot of exciting fights for ‘The Count’ at middleweight now that he has the belt, so it might be best just to concentrate on that rather than opting for a risky match-up with DC instead.
As for Gustafsson, it’s another great option and there’s a good chance that a rematch with DC was in his future anyway, but the fact that he’s the only fighter out of the three that’s not in Las Vegas right now counts against him.