Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight Anthony Johnson was hoping to secure his spot against the winner of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier, who collide later this year for the strap "DC" scooped up while "Bones" was in legal time out.
The means to that end was a win over 205-pound contender Ryan Bader in the main event of last night's (Sat., Jan. 30, 2016) UFC on FOX 18 event inside Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, just a stone's throw from the forbidden lands of New York City.
Johnson improved his record to 21-5 by destroying Bader in the very first round, which amounts to his fifteenth win by way of knockout/technical knockout. In addition, all four of his victories since turning away Phil Davis at UFC 172 have come by way of flying fists of doom.
In layman's terms, he's the scariest motherfucker at 205 pounds.
No disrespect to any of the other contenders, but that's exactly the kind of fighter we need right now in the light heavyweight title chase, which is why I -- along with most other mixed martial arts (MMA) fans -- will be rooting for Jones when he settles his score with Cormier.
"DC" was able to neutralize Johnson and would likely do it again if and when they ever ran it back.
I'm not convinced Johnson is a better fighter than "Bones," but the threat of the A-bomb is clear and present danger for as long as the fight remains standing.
That makes for an exciting contest, and excitement isn't something we usually see in a Jones bout, simply because he's been so dominant since day one. Gustafsson caught him unprepared back in late 2013, but "The Mauler" faltered in follow-up appearances and no longer remains within striking distance.
That reality cast a long shadow over the division -- and continued to bother me as a fan -- all the way up until referee Keith Peterson saved Ryan Bader's life last night in Newark.
Gustafsson needs more time to work his way back up to Jones and now he's got it, because Johnson has punched his way into a light heavyweight title fight. Now all we need is for Cormier to stick to the script and come up empty for a second time.
Quick -- somebody call Shane Stant.
For more results and fallout from UFC on FOX 18 be sure to hit up out comprehensive "Johnson vs. Bader" news archive -- which includes live results, fight recaps, videos, and more -- by clicking here.