The first challenger for newly-crowned UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Cormier, was announced on Wednesday night (June 3, 2015).
And it's not Ryan Bader, who many expected.
Despite his four-fight win streak and UFC 187 post-fight verbal scrap with "DC" on the dais, the No.3-ranked contender has been passed over. Cormier will face Alexander Gustafsson later on this year, according to UFC president Dana White, who made the announcement Wednesday evening on FOX Sports 1's, "UFC Tonight."
All signs were pointing to Bader, especially after the altercation during the UFC 187 post-fight presser (watch it here) and the buzz that it generated. Instead, UFC will go with the No. 2-ranked Light Heavyweight who fought for the title back at UFC 165 in a five-round thriller against former champion Jon Jones, who is currently under indefinite suspension for felony charges of fleeing the scene of an accident (read more on that here).
The match up seems to be an indicator of UFC's lack of confidence in the contenders of the 205-pound division. And perhaps that the promotion is under a great deal of pressure for a good turnout in the absence of one of its biggest pay-per-view (PPV) draws (Jones).
The fact that Gustafsson is getting a title shot after coming off the worse loss of his career -- a first round knockout loss to Anthony Johnson at UFC on FOX 14 earlier this year -- tells you a lot about the current state of the division. The Swede was on the wrong end of a one-round drubbing at the hands of "Rumble" in a title-fight eliminator in his home town of Sweden and will now fight for a world title.
A date, location and event for this Light Heavyweight title fight has not yet been announced.