After his big knockout victory over Corey Anderson on Saturday in London, Jimi Manuwa has boiled down his future to four names.
“My next fight should be either Daniel Cormier, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Jon Jones or David Haye,” Manuwa said on Monday, during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “Those are the four people on my list. And out of them, I don’t mind who I fight.”
Manuwa made an emphatic statement in front of his countrymen in England, scoring a one-punch, walk-off knockout of Anderson in the first round. In the aftermath, he surprised many people by expressing his thoughts on a bout with former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who is eligible to return to fighting in July after serving out a suspension for a banned substance.
In short, Manuwa said he wouldn’t be interested in a fight with Jones, whom he tabbed a proven cheater in the sport.
“I’m not interested in Jon Jones,” Manuwa said at the UFC Fight Night 107 post-fight presser. “Jon Jones takes steroids and now he has been banned for steroids. Before I was a big fan of Jon Jones, the things he has done in the Octagon and everything. But he has been suspended for a year or something.”
Jones is currently still serving out a one-year suspension, retroactive to his unifying 205-pound title fight with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200. He tested positive for the anti-estrogen agents clomiphene and Letrozol in an out-of-competition drug test conducted by USADA, and was replaced with Anderson Silva on just two days’ notice.
The 37-year old Manuwa, who has now won consecutive fights, had a bit of a appended point of view less than 48 hours after landing that devastating left hook on Anderson. He said a fight with Jones is something he’d obviously covet, but right now Jones doesn’t have the one thing he’s trying to attain.
“[A fight with Jones doesn’t make] the most sense, because I’m more focused on the title,” he said. “But the Jon Jones fight would be an amazing fight. He’s probably the best fighter that’s ever stepped into the Octagon. So why not? I’ve always said, why wouldn’t I want to fight him?
“But he’s not on my agenda right now. My agenda is the belt. That’s what I want is the belt.”
Manuwa’s comments towards Jones made rounds through social media over the weekend, with many of Jones’ followers coming at Manuwa. The “Poster Boy” said he heard those comments, and he laughed them off.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, some of his fans saying he’d crush me and I’m scared to fight him and all this shit, but these are just Twitter maniacs,” he said. “I know I’m not scared. Come on, I took a fight with ‘Rumble’ Johnson with four-and-a-half weeks’ notice. Why would I be scared to fight Jon Jones? I fear no man. Everyone bleeds the same, everyone feels pain. Why would I be scared to fight Jon Jones?”
Manuwa’s fight with Johnson was the last time he lost a bout. His only other loss in the span of eight fights in the UFC came against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Fight Night 37 in 2014 (which also took place in London).
Five of Manuwa’s six victories in the UFC have come in the form of a knockout, making him one of the deadliest strikers in the division.
Still, now that he has a head of momentum, Manuwa is looking to capitalize against one of aforementioned names — even Haye, who isn’t a mixed martial artist, but a boxer.
“I’m not looking to fight anyone else,” he said. “After my last fight with [Ovince Saint Preux] I wanted to fight someone ranked about me, as it [Glover] Teixeira, Ryan Bader, or maybe one person behind me, that was Shogun. We were scheduled to fight a couple of years ago, before I got injured. That would have been a fun fight.
“But now, Teixeira turned me down, Bader turned me down, Shogun said no, and these people, it seems like they’re running or hiding or avoiding — or I don’t know what they’re doing. But it seems like they don’t want to fight the best and solidify their position and fighting the best people. Teixeira ended up fighting [Jared] Cannonier, and he’s not even ranked in the top 10, or the top 15. That fight made no sense to me.”
Cormier is scheduled to meet Anthony Johnson at UFC 210 on April 8 in Buffalo, N.Y. It is widely believed that the winner will square off with Jones when he comes back, but Manuwa doesn’t see that automatically being the case.
Asked if he was worried that the UFC would opt to give Jones the next title shot, Manuwa said he’s remaining open-minded.
“It could happen, it could happen,” he said. “It’s MMA, it could happen. It’s all about show business for them right now as well, you know. It doesn’t matter about rankings and stuff like that.
“Listen, to me, everything is going to play out how it’s meant to be. I’m not really too stressed about what happens. I’m going to go enjoy my win. I’m going to go on holiday in the next couple of weeks and enjoy my rest. I’m going to have a little rest now.”