Jon Jones is a spectacle, in every sense of the word. From his sheer fighting talent to his remarkable mishaps outside the cage – Jones makes headlines. But what do you do when you clearly establish yourself at the top of your division?
Well, people write articles about who they want to see you fight next and make silly projections. One has to wonder who will be the one to catch Jones as he ages. As Chris Weidman shocked the world in his upset of Anderson Silva, one of these five would be an interesting style match up for the light heavyweight champ.
5. Anthony Johnson: How did ‘Rumble’ ever fight at 170-pounds? And then miss weight at 185-pounds? And then find success at 205-pounds? And eventually, make a stand among the top at heavyweight? Okay, sure, he’s retired and doing grappling tournaments. But what if he pulled it together once more? And made 205-pounds, with that killer punching power? Tell me that wouldn’t make for an exciting Jones bout. Prediction: Jones wins by TKO in the third round.
4. Ryan Bader: Because who doesn’t like a “champion vs. champion” cross-promotional match up, right? I know, it’s happened before. But both have grown into themselves and I’m not sure that Bader isn’t ageing better at this point.
Jones has all the tools necessary to beat Bader wherever this goes. However, Bader has surprised us before – with victories over ‘Rampage’ Jackson, and Rashad Evans, as well as the Tito Ortiz mishap. I’d watch this rematch, if we had the opportunity to make it. Prediction: Jones via TKO in the second round.
3. Thiago Santos: ‘Marreta’ is Portuguese for sledgehammer, according to Google translate, and he’s definitely confirmed that nickname since joining the UFC. Santos hits like a dump truck and has over a dozen wins in the UFC from strikes alone. This Brazilian bruiser simply causes damage in the cage, win or lose.
At UFC 239, he gave Jones one his toughest fights to date, losing a split decision while on a knee that was shredded like cheese early in the fight. It’s very possible that a healthy Santos could have taken that belt away from Jones and I can’t wait for this rematch! Prediction: Santos could catch him but Jones likely holds him down this time for a unanimous decision.
2. Dominick Reyes II: Dominick Reyes is an athlete. He mentioned this in an interview just before his title fight at UFC 247, telling UFC Countdown that Jones has “fought wrestlers, he’s fought strikers but never athletes.” Jones mocked the sport’s standout and dismissed this notion with a wave of his hand.
Then came fight night. Reyes outslugged and outworked Jones, winning the first two rounds on the scorecards and showing the world that this athlete could fight. In the end, Jones won the fight by unanimous decision in a bout that many feel could have easily gone the other way.
Since then, Reyes has been vocal about a rematch and it’s another one I’ll gladly watch. Prediction: Reyes tires by the third round, giving Jones another unanimous decision victory.
1. Israel Adesanya: It’s no secret that ‘The Last Stylebender’ enjoys prodding Jon Jones from the sidelines, often winning the verbal sparring battle in the eyes of many. Considering his cocky confidence, talent and size, he’s got the tools to be seen as a true threat to Jones.
With the best takedown defense in the middleweight division, Adesanya could keep this fight standing, where he would have a significant advantage, based on his kickboxing background. Although, while both fighters are 6 ft 4 in tall, Jones still boasts a four and a half-inch reach advantage. However, something tells me Adesanya could be the one to put the REAL “L” on Jones’ record. Prediction: Adesanya by TKO in the fourth round.
Jones is possibly the greatest fighting talent in the short existence of MMA. Will he still hit spinning elbows and drop lifeless bodies to the floor at his age? One never knows. Is he still at the top of the food chain and expected to go down in the history books as one of the G.O.A.T.s? Absolutely. And I’ll continue to watch every ‘Bones’ fight I can find.