If Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is able to successfully defend his 205-pound title against Dan Henderson at the UFC 151 pay-per-view (PPV) event on Sept. 1, 2012 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, his next challenger could be a familiar one.
That's because one of his three previous opponents, former division titleholders Mauricio Rua and Lyoto Machida, along with Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 Champion Ryan Bader, are all auditioning for the spot of number one contender next week in Los Angeles.
According to a report from Alex Marvez, UFC President Dana White will evaluate each fighter's performance at the UFC on FOX 4 event a week from Saturday night (Aug. 4), where "Shogun" headlines opposite Brandon Vera while "The Dragon" and "Darth" try to eliminate one another from the running.
Hear White explain his position (via FOX Sports) after the jump.
"These fighters have a huge opportunity to show the world why they deserve to fight for the UFC title next. Winning isn’t enough at UFC on FOX. This division is so competitive these fighters have to look great to separate themselves from the pack. I’m expecting all of these guys to go all-out to prove why they should be next in line for a title shot."
Jones (16-1) earned the division title by dominating Rua at the UFC 128 PPV in April 2011 -- just over a month after choking out Bader at the UFC 126 event in Las Vegas to establish himself as the number one contender. Machida tried to reclaim the belt at UFC 140 later that year in Toronto, but was put to sleep via guillotine choke late in the second stanza.
Three fights, three finishes.
While the 205-pound division isn't exactly teeming with title contenders, it's hard to make a case for a rematch for any of the aforementioned fighters when rising stars like Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira are surging through the promotion's light heavyweight ranks.
Then again, if "Hendo" pulls off the upset in Sin City," none of this will matter.