Is UFC’S Light Heavyweight Division Up For Grabs?

Off the back of the recent UFC 250 event, there was an undoubted amount of interest from a betting perspective taking into consideration that a bettor made 7 figures bet on Amanda and with many making use of the knowledge from handicappers, in order to back Amanda Nunes to victory, punters will certainly have been celebrating the Brazilian’s success.

While although the company will have expected decent PPV numbers – especially after no fans were in attendance at the newly built UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, the high of impressive viewing figures is overshadowed by a dark cloud in the Light Heavyweight division.

When it comes to the UFC’s Light Heavyweight Championship, it has resembled something of a proverbial hot potato these past few years and the man that has been at the crux of any issues in this division is non-other than Jon Jones.

In the eyes of the UFC he can officially lay claim to being the current Light Heavyweight champion, although it seems as if the eyes of Jones himself, that is no longer an accolade that he wants to take possession of.

With Jones set to fight Francis Ngannou in the first defense of his newly won crown, there has been an almighty dispute in terms of the 32-year-old’s worth and worth that is viewed as differences between two major parties.

In one corner of this proverbial Octagon, is Jones himself and facing opposite him is none other than UFC President Dana White – someone who is not afraid of holding back and is always keen to offer an opinion when asked.

The fallout has stemmed from ‘Bones’ believing he is worth what he considers to be ‘Deontay Wilder’ money and with the American boxer receiving $30m for his recent defeat to Tyson Fury, that is the payday the champion was expecting to receive.

Step forward Dana White and a heavy dose of realism, a realism that comes in the form that all major sports are suffering from a severe lack of revenue right now and with fans locked out of venues, the UFC’s balance sheet is looking rather strained.

Which means the sums that Jones has been quoting for his upcoming payday are far removed from what White is willing to pay and the upshot of this, is that if the champ does not get his money, then the champ does not come out to play.

This has meant that the fighter based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico no longer considers himself the champion of Light Heavyweight division and although this has not been officially ratified, it does seem as if it is a decision that is going to stick.

The question that big-name fighters are asking themselves in this current climate is a simple one and one that asks, ‘is fighting during a pandemic, all that necessary’ and the overwhelming answer seems to be that it’s not.

What makes it even more damming is the fact that this current dispute is not the only case of a top tier combatant recently deciding to call time. Just days later form this fallout, Conor McGregor has once again announced a retirement.

Now, of course, McGregor is partial to the odd retirement announcement and this may have to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, this additional headline from the UFC landscape does perhaps reinforce the point of view of the self-stripped Light Heavyweight kingpin.

Fundamentally the Jackson Wink Academy fighter has put Dana White on the backfoot and in asking to be cut, the figurehead of MMA’s premier promotion now finds himself with an almighty difficult decision to make.

In a period where the UFC is perhaps failing to make the stars they once did, they can ill afford to send anymore packing, and to make matters worse, there have been additional release requests to consider.

One example is Jorge Masvidal and with him being part of the same management team that oversees the dealing of Jon Jones, the 35-year-old has been highly vocal about contract negotiations not going his way.

This means that the UFC not only has two rather unhappy names within the camp, but it can no longer count on the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor and it also cannot count on another recent champion.

Henry Cejudo was crowned won the Bantamweight Championship at last month’s UFC 249 event and no sooner had he climbed to the top of the mountain; he decides to call time on a successful MMA career.

Admittedly Cejudo, was not the biggest box office draw, but for any fighter at the pinnacle of their division to then call time, only dents the legitimacy of the championship and only creates further headaches for the UFC matchmakers.

With what now seems like two of their belts in a vacant status – not to mention Khabib Nurmagomedov unable to defend his Lightweight Championship due to a restriction on travel from Chechnya, it does seem as if Dana White’s empire is crumbling ever so slightly.

With that said, this is a man who almost thrives when faced with a dispute and if Jones and Masvidal do get sent packing they won’t be the last name to have done so. With that said, there is perhaps a sense the talent well is running dry and it is getting even tougher to now replenish it.

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