For the first time in nearly a decade, the UFC’s light heavyweight title will soon be held by someone other than Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier.
On Monday, longtime champion Jones announced that he was officially vacated the UFC’s 205-pound title ahead of a proposed move to the heavyweight division, leaving the company’s light heavyweight championship vacant. Top contenders Dominick Reyes — who was defeated by Jones in a close but unanimous decision earlier this year — and Poland’s Jan Blachowicz are considered the two standout candidates in the division, and will now meet to contest the vacant title.
The two are set to meet at UFC 253 on September 26, and it was confirmed late Tuesday that the fight will determine the new standard-bearer at 205-pounds.
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The event will be headlined by a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa. As ESPN noted, this will mark the first time in UFC history that a light heavyweight title bout will not take place in a main event slot.
Reyes’ sole career defeat was to Jones. Prior to that, the former college football athlete earned his status as one of the division’s elite fighters with a succession of impressive wins against the likes of Chris Weidman, Volkan Oezdemir, Ovince St. Preux and Jared Cannonier.
Blachowicz’s recent form, meanwhile, has seen the 37-year-old defeat the likes of Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza and Corey Anderson. A sole defeat to Thiago Santos is the lone blemish on his record dating back eight fights, and almost three years of competition.