Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones before fighting Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE.
Four consecutive wins over former Light Heavyweight champions, three of whom were stopped inside the distance, and suddenly Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 205-pound kingpin, Jon Jones, is being hailed as the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.) among many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans.
"Bones" has ripped through the divisional cupboard, battering Mauricio Rua, submitting Quinton Jackson and leaving Lyoto Machida for dead in the build up to the biggest fight of the 24-year-old's professional career last weekend when he dominated his former friend and current arch enemy, Rashad Evans, in the UFC 145 main event en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Just writing that long-winded sentence is tiresome, much less having the skills and abilities to accomplish it all in just 13 months.
UFC President Dana White is still reluctant to call him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. That distinction, he contends, belongs to Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. "The Spider," however, hasn't breezed through a Murderer's Row of decorated fighters like Jones, which isn't to say he has accomplished any less throughout his legendary career.
Jones and Silva are both bad, bad men. There should be no argument there, and if there is, you can go bananas in the comments section below and make a fool out of yourself because this is a blog and that's the sort of thing that happens quite often around these parts.
Anyway, Jones is a special fighter whether you like him or feel the need to hate. And he's already got his next opponent lined up, Dan Henderson, and White hinted earlier today that he plans to ask his main event workhorse to headline another upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) event, UFC 149, which is slated for the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on July 21, 2012.
It will be great news for White and fight fans in the Great White North if Jones is amenable to yet another tight turnaround to fight yet another former champion. However, if he blitzes "Hendo" like he has most of the other top competition in the division, there isn't much intriguing depth leftover. In other words, Jones would have essentially cleaned out an entire division in less than 18 months.
And according to White, the next best option, which is a move up to Heavyweight, isn't something he would like to see Jones do at such a young age.
From the Ithaca Journal:
"Jon Jones is a physical specimen. The guy is huge at 205 pounds.... He can make 205. Once he cleans out a division and [expletive] starts getting a little old and stale, then maybe he makes that move to heavyweight. He’s 24 years old, and as he gets older, it’s going to be harder to cut that weight. It’s going to be harder to stay as lean as he is. If I was him, and I’m not his coach or advisor or anything, I’d wait until that naturally happens....You move up to heavyweight, and you've got Junior Dos Santos up there. Dude's got bombs in his hands. ... You've got some big serious dudes at heavyweights. It's a big jump. It's not going to be that fun at heavyweight."
White might not be eager to "advise" Jones on a move up to heavyweight, but he's really leaving him with no other options. Seriously, unless I'm missing something, Alexander Gustafsson is the only viable opponent who currently makes sense. And that doesn't even really make that much sense because "The Mauler" would only get the opportunity to challenge Jones because there is no one else left standing.
And neither would Gustafsson once Jones got done with him at these stages of their careers and development.
It's no secret that Evans is one of the shorter top light heavyweight fighters and Jones is among the tallest. However, Jones looked like Hong Man Choi circling around that Octagon in Atlanta, Ga., the other night, stalking "Suga" and slashing him with those crazy elbows. He even revealed prior to the showdown that he now walks around at 230 pounds.
Here's the convoluted bottom line: Jones will eventually graduate to heavyweight, but White doesn't want that to happen before his body does it naturally. Meanwhile, White is rushing him into a fight with Henderson this summer, but if he wins, the division for all intents and purposes is not just cleaned out, but sterilized.
There's a lesson, and perhaps a solution, in all of this, but I just can't put my finger on it. Perhaps Chael Sonnen can help at UFC 148 on July 7, 2012. Or, even his old friend from Team Quest, Henderson, can somehow delay the inevitable.
If not, I'm out of light heavyweight ideas for the future of Jon "Bones" Jones.