With UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou likely sidelined for the rest of the year, Daniel Cormier wants to see the division move on.
Ngannou is expected to undergo knee surgery.
So with the champion benched for a significant amount of time, how should the division proceed?
Cormier believes Jon Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC) should make his heavyweight debut against former two-time heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic (20-4 MMA, 14-4 UFC) – but with a portion of the gold on the line.
“I think we’ll see another interim title,” Cormier said on his ESPN show “DC & RC.” “For me, what makes sense for that interim title is Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones. I think you put those two together and then no matter who wins, when Francis comes back, you have a massive fight waiting for you.”
“With Miocic, I think it’s time to give him some respect,” Cormier said. “If there’s going to be an interim title, they can’t not do it with Miocic.”
He continued, “If Stipe Miocic fights anyone, he’s as tough, he’s as durable, and he is as good as anybody in the heavyweight division. Him and Jon Jones, that was a fight that people were pining for whenever Jon Jones was the champion and Stipe was the champion. So now you make that for the interim title fight, and you also allow for people to see whether or not Jon Jones can compete at 265 pounds.”
“The reality is this, though: If Jon Jones fights at heavyweight, you want a belt on the line,” Cormier said. “You don’t want him just fighting. I used to think that, ‘Oh, put him against Curtis Blaydes or somebody else. No, you put him in a fight where if he wins, the end visual is the belt getting strapped on him, even if it’s an interim title because then it just elevates the next fight.”
“So I think Stipe-Jones is the fight to make, and I can see a world where Ciryl Gane fights against Curtis Blaydes. The heavyweight division is interesting right now, and the champion being away doesn’t really hurt it all that much.”