After a successful light heavyweight debut against short notice opponent Patrick Cummins at UFC 170, Daniel Cormier’s next fight may come against another fighter outside the top 10 rankings. UFC Tonight reported that Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, is the opponent that the UFC are looking to bring in for a fight with Cormier at UFC 175, and will likely serve as the co-main event.
UFC 175 will be headlined by the UFC middleweight title fight between Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida, after the fight was moved from the UFC 173 due to a knee injury suffered by Weidman. The card will be held on July 5 at Mandalay Bay Events Centre in Las Vegas, NV.
Now 3-0 inside the Octagon, Daniel Cormier is ranked #5 in the light heavyweight division by the official UFC rankings, and therefore a fight with Feijao could seem a surprising choice. However, with the division relatively clogged up, this is the most reasonable option available. I will break down why.
Jon Jones will fight Glover Teixeira at UFC 172, with the winner set to face #1 ranked Alexander Gustafsson. This puts the top three fighters out of contention for a bout with Cormier, and the man ranked #3, Rashad Evans, is currently nursing a knee injury that took him out of a bout with Cormier at UFC 170.
Phil Davis, ranked #4, will face Anthony Johnson – who was once considered the best light heavyweight outside of the UFC before returning to the promotion. Dan Henderson halted a three fight losing streak, but Cormier doesn’t get much out of a win with the former Pride and Strikeforce champion. Mauricio Rua has suffered four losses in his last seven, while Chael Sonnen will fight Wanderlei Silva, and Vitor Belfort, Gegard Mousasi and James Te Huna have moved down to middleweight.
This leaves just four ranked opponents available, with Ovince St. Preux a man only hardcore fans would know, Jimi Manuwa coming off a loss, Ryan Bader nursing an injury and that leaves the #12 ranked Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante.
Feijao may not be the top contender Cormier deserves, but staying on the sideline makes little sense to the UFC. Though only 1-1 inside the Octagon, he looked very impressive in his first round knockout over Igor Pokrajac and has wins over King Mo and Yoel Romero in his career.