Incumbent Champion: Jon Jones
Prediction: Jones fights Anthony Smith and easily retains his title, then puts the division on ice to try his hand at heavyweight in a third fight against DC. An interim title between Dominick Reyes and Corey Anderson is green lit on short-notice after a shallow pay-per-view card gets hit by the injury bug, because MMA isn’t a sport.
Explanation: In contrast to its northern counterpart, light heavyweight is much less complicated vis-a-vis the top of the division. You have Jones, perhaps the greatest talent to ever compete in MMA who just recaptured the title in a dominant performance over the No. 2-ranked contender, and then you have everyone else.
“Bones” has been flirting with moving up a division for years, but in the short-term seems focused defending title. In fact, since he won it back last Saturday, he’s been lighting fires across every conceivable medium: attempting to goad heavyweight champion Cormier to come down for a third fight in his in-cage interview, jawing with Smith on the FOX desk and somewhat amiably beefing with Anderson on social media. Given that Jones wants to fight three times in 2019, I figure he gets in there with “Lionheart” sometime in the next few months, then makes the long-awaited move to heavyweight by the summer.
Five years ago, that would mean vacating the 205-pound title, but given the UFC’s fetish for super-fights, and the absurd lengths it has gone to accommodate its star athletes in recent times, I figure the company lets him keep his title in the short-term. An interim light heavyweight title fight, while completely unwarranted, will probably actualize because the UFC runs out of other options for a low-trending pay-per-view.
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