The UFC threw a major curve ball with their recent announcement of who the next #1 contender for the LHW title would be, the winner of Shogun VS Vera. To begin with, this demonstrates how thin the LHW division is in terms of viable contenders to face off with Jones, and is additional evidence for the need of him to move up to the heavyweight division where several challenges await him.
But even with all of that said, the UFC could've played their cards much better, and could have made the LHW division appear more competitive towards Jon Jones. At this moment in time, no matter how you look at it, a win for either Shogun or Vera doesn't really warrant them any title shot, Vera's record speaks for itself, and Shogun himself hasn't had the best looking recent fight streak in the UFC, not to mention his complete beat down at the hands of Jones only last year. (If Shogun's beat down was bad, Vera got his face broken by Jones)
On the very same UFC Fox card, there is another LHW match up, Machida VS Bader, both men have also lost to Jones, but having said that these are still two top LHW's and the match has it's significance. So what would've been the smart decision? It was staring right in front of us, place the winner of Machida VS Bader against the winner of Shogun VS Vera, and the winner from that match up would become the #1 contender to face of with Jones. Assuming both Machida and Shogun win, the UFC could have thrown both men together into the Ultimate Fighter Brazil edition, with the main show headlining in December, and the winner going off to face Jones. In this picture you have a run being built by the contender, and something that is interesting, and something that is worthy enough to go and fight for the title.
In the meantime Jones fights in September, and he could defend his title again in January, headlining the first UFC PPV of the year, defending his belt against none other than Gustafson. At the end of the day a Jon Jones VS Gustafson fight is not the most compelling or mouth watering event, but it's something fresh and I think most fans would highly prefer a Jones-Gustafson match up than to a current Shogun-Vera-Jones match up. Gustafson has yet to face Jones, so it's a new challenge, and a fight we haven't seen. At the same time Gustafson has gone on a good winning streak and at this point is the only real deserving viable contender to face Jones considering his recent record in the UFC compared with the others.
So you have Jones face Gustafson by January, then you have Jones face the winner of Machida-Shogun sometime in May, and by then you could even build another possible contender in the LHW division, at this point I'm thinking Texiera or Phil Jones, so everything stays fresh and the LHW seems to be somewhat competitive for Jones rather than throwing him people he's already badly beat, and people who don't really deserve a title shot.
So in light of all this, it makes the recent UFC decision truly baffling, it's quite scary they were that clueless and thought that this was the only option. Something tells me Dana will go back on his word after the UFC Fox event, claiming to have heeded the rumblings of the fans, something he's done before. But even if he does go back on his decision, the very fact that they originally came up with the plan shows their clueless, and don't really know who to throw at Jones, so it's not like it's going to probably get better.
Jon Jones himself tweeted that he was scratching his head at the decision, well Jon, if you're perplexed and don't feel that these are suitable challenges for you, then you know what to do, simply move up to a division where a whole set of new fighters and challengers await you. Fighters who are your size, and in some cases, even bigger than you. It's not like Jones would have any problems making Heavyweight, he already walks at 235! The man is by all means and purposes a natural heavyweight, who is fighting at light heavy weight against guys that are much smaller than him, guys that can (and are and have and should) fight at middle weight.
Or maybe the UFC could've just thrown Chael Sonnen in there, as that would have made much more sense than this decision.