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Dana White's answer to Jon Jones: 'Gustafsson's next in line'

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Esther Lin

The Jon Jones-Dana White-Alexander Gustafsson-Daniel Cormier melodrama continued unabated Wednesday.

One day after Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion and MMA's best pound-for-pound fighter, dropped a brief-but-pointed online message making his opinions clear, White stated his case during an interview with the Albuquerque Journal.

The UFC boss is standing firm in his belief Jones should defend his title in a rematch against Gustafsson, whom Jones defeated at UFC 165 last September, instead of the undefeated Cormier.

"Gustafsson's next in line," White said. "Even Cormier said, ‘Listen, I hope this whole things works out for me and I get the shot, but even I believe that Gustafsson deserves the next shot.' [Gustafsson is] the No. 1 contender, he's waited for this rematch and [Cormier] even agrees."

As for Jones' insistence on fighting Cormier first, White frames it in terms of turning down a fight the fans want to see.

"As soon as [Jones] starts to build some steam and starts to become the star that you think he can be, he comes out and doesn't want to fight somebody," White said. "You're the champion, you're the pound-for-pound best guy in the world, and he says he wants to be known as the best ever. Well, you don't turn down opponents, you know what I mean? You've got to fight all the best in the world, anyway. You're the man; everybody's gunning for you."

If nothing else, White isn't letting business cloud his perception of Jones' fighting skills. With Renan Barao's convincing loss to T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 173, you will no longer hear White claim someone besides Jones as the pound-for-pound best.

"When Renan Barao was undefeated for 32 fights and nine years and everything else, there was some debate there," White said. "There's no debate now. Jon Jones is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world."