Last week, Jon Jones announced that he will be relinquishing his light heavyweight title, leaving the division without a champion. Moreover, the 205lbs division has reached a changing of the guard moment as, for the first time in nine and a half years, the next champion will not be named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier.
The immediate future of the division does have some clarity after it was announced that Dominick Reyes will take on Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light heavyweight title on September 26 at UFC 253 at a location yet to be announced. What isn't clear is who will be the next man to become the face of the division after it has been dominated by Jones, frequently considered the greatest light heavyweight ever, for such a long time.
While either Reyes or Blachowicz will undoubtedly get the first opportunity to carry the torch for the division, here are the 5 men best placed to make the light heavyweight division their own as we look forward into the future.
#5 Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1)
While it might seem unlikely that a man with just 1 UFC fight under his belt could conceivably become the face of the division, Prochazka has the potential to make this a reality. Prochazka exploded on to the UFC scene with a second-round KO of established contender Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251 and immediately shot up from a near unknown to the number 6 light heavyweight in the world.
While his arrival in the UFC was sudden, Prochazka is an experienced fighter who has won his last 12 professional bouts. On top of that, he's won his last 9 fights by KO, after an impressive run in Japanese promotion RIZIN. Prochazka's exciting fighting style is quickly making him a favorite among UFC fans and it may only take one or two more strong performances in the octagon before he challenges for the title. Prochazka is also only 27 years old and should be around for some time to come. Could a lengthy run with the belt be in Jiri Prochazka's future?