In the wake of Saturday night’s UFC 135 we are left with little new information about our current Light Heavyweight champ, but rather a resounding and entertaining confirmation of what we already knew. Jon Jones is possibly the greatest pound for pound fighter on the planet (contending with Silva, Aldo, and GSP for that honor) and is without question the top 205 pounder in the world. To the credit of the future hall of famer Rampage Jackson, Quentin managed to give Bones his most competitive contest to date. Doing a more effective job of stopping the 24 year olds take downs than any of his previous opponents, utilizing effective head movement, and wisely ducking the majority of Jones’ thunderous spinning back elbows. Rampage clearly did his homework, came in to the fight in excellent shape and put forth a commendable effort. That being said, another completely one-sided and dominant victory for the young champ. Jackson failed to close the distance for four rounds, dangling on the business end of Bones’s various fishing pole like limbs like a prize tuna who doesn’t yet realize that he is caught and will likely be sashimi by the end of the day. Once his opponent was sufficiently battered and winded, Jones closed in with the takedown and the submission followed shortly thereafter.
Dominance like this is always exciting to encounter, but can often leave the fan wondering- is there anyone out there who can give this guy a competitive fight? Where does he go from here and will it simply be more replays of the awe inspiring, yet totally one-sided beatings that he has authored so far? Fear not MMA fans, my message is one of hope, for many an entertaining fight lies ahead of our new young champ. Here is what I see for the next phase of Jon Jones’ career (the next 2-3 years):
The next obvious step is his pending encounter with Rashad Evans. The backstory behind this fight could be the bastard child of a fight promoter’s wet dream and a hollywood producer’s coke induced brainstorm session. Think “Rocky 5” but with better acting. As fun as this fight will be to hype, however, I see it as yet another stop on the Jon Jones Whoop Ass Express. Don’t wander far from the train, this layover will be a short one. All the inside information in the world isn’t going to change the fact that Jones appears better than Rashad in pretty much every facet of the game. Rashad is a top quality light heavyweight and looked excellent in his most recent bout with Tito Ortiz, but I don’t see any way that he can get this done. Evans is excellent at mixing up his attack and will likely pull out all the stops here, but Jones will have an answer for everything and will overwhelm Rashad with his reach. I see a 3rd round TKO for Jones.
After this, Bones’ schedule will be wide open. Now that Dana White has nixed the possibility of a super-fight with Anderson Silva, I see a few more interesting opportunities for Jones as 205. First stop will likely be a title unification fight with another man who is on a roll of his own, Dan Henderson. Though Henderson is literally old enough to be Jon Jones’ father (if you don’t believe me see MTV’s “Teen Mom”), he is on a white hot streak of destruction and with his recent victory over the legendary Fedor Emelianenko his stock is at an all-time high. He is penciled in for a welcome back to the UFC bout against Shogun, a fight I see him winning via decision. Henderson poses some very interesting challenges for Jones, possessing the best wrestling that Bones will have ever encountered, an iron chin and one punch KO power. Not to mention a mountain of experience and tactical excellence. All this being said, I think Jones utilizes his reach and far greater diversity of strikes to pick Hendo apart, possibly becoming the first man to KO the Greco-Roman great.
After Hendo, fellow Strikeforce stable mate King Mo might make an interesting opponent, who will likely have made his way over to the UFC by then along with all the other relevant fighters in the soon to be dismantled promotion.
A more well-rounded and experienced Phil Davis could make an excellent opponent for Jones, however, until Mr. Wonderful brings his striking up to speed I’m afraid he would be too one dimensional to last long with the champ.
As I see it, this will more or less complete Jon Jones’ thorough cleansing of the 205 lb. division...with one exception- the man who may have the best shot against him in all of the division...
(PART 2 TO FOLLOW SHORTLY)