The biggest rematch of the year will have to wait. Swedish No. 1 contender Alexander Gustafsson was forced out of his blockbuster rematch against UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 178 after sustaining a torn meniscus in his knee, promotion officials announced Wednesday.
In his stead, undefeated former Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier (15-0) will challenge Jones (20-1) for the light heavyweight title.
UFC 178 is slated to take place September 27, 2014 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
Cormier, 35, was expected to undergo surgery in early July to repair a lingering torn LCL and partially damaged ACL in his right knee, however the top-ranked contender instead elected to delay the procedure, and his decision appears to have paid off with the biggest opportunity of his career.
Cormier has yet to unanimously lose a round in mixed martial arts competition, and since making the drop to light heavyweight has added stoppage wins over Patrick Cummins and Dan Henderson to his already impressive résumé, which includes dominant victories at heavyweight over Antonio Silva, Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and Josh Barnett.
Jones, 27, is currently the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. The record-breaking champion has effectively crushed every opponent to come his way, with his 2013 victory over Gustafsson standing as the only fight he was ever in danger of losing.
Over the course of his eight successive title defenses, "Bones" has beaten a who's who of 205-pounders that includes former champions Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. In his most recent performance, Jones halted the 20-fight win streak of top-ranked contender Glover Teixeira, outclassing the Brazilian en route to a lopsided decision win.
Of course, Jones and Cormier have somewhat of a history together. Cormier was expected to become the next challenger for Jones' light heavyweight strap if Jones got by Gustafsson, and the two fierce competitors have traded barbs for years, culminating in Cormier's callout of Jones after his victory at UFC 173.
"Jon Jones, you can't run away from me forever," Cormier proclaimed. "I'm the kid at the wrestling tournament that is always in your bracket. No matter where you go, boy, I'm coming. ... I know nobody can wrestle me so it doesn't matter. If I decide to take Jon Jones down 100 times, I'll take him down 100 times. This is my Octagon, I'm the man."
Cormier reiterated that sentiment on Wednesday, directing a message towards Jones on Twitter that read simply: "and the new......."
An updated UFC 178 fight card can be seen below.
- Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier
- Dominick Cruz vs. Takeya Mizugaki
- Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier
- Tim Kennedy vs. Yoel Romero
- Cat Zingano vs. Amanda Nunes
- John Howard vs. Brian Ebersole
- Patrick Cote vs. Stephen Thompson