clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jon Jones will fight at heavyweight when UFC 'plays ball,' remains focused on defeating 'dream-chasers'

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Jon Jones will try to continue his winning ways later tonight (Sat., Mar. 2, 2019) at UFC 235 in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he defends his UFC light heavyweight title against surging contender Anthony Smith.

If Jones is able to take advantage of the opportunity and prove the oddsmakers right, “Lionheart” will become just another name on the long list of fighters to come up short against “Bones.”

If that is in fact the case, there won’t be many challengers left at 205 pounds for Jones to ward off. Rising names like Dominick Reyes and Johnny Walker are certainly making their move, but they’ve got a few fights left before competing for a UFC title. Streaking knockout artist Thiago Santos would likely be the next challenger for Jones at light heavyweight, but that fight doesn’t really sell on paper.

That’s why the conversation keeps turning to Jones moving up to heavyweight. It’s a switch that has been talked about for years, but now seems even more likely given the scarce options at light heavyweight. Jones is open to the idea if he’s able to get past “Lionheart” this weekend, but he needs a little more incentive from UFC to pull the trigger.

“I think people want me to go to heavyweight because quite frankly they want to see me lose, or get close to it, or take some serious damage,” Jones told reporters earlier this week at UFC 235 open workouts (h/t MMAjunkie). “At heavyweight the risk goes up tremendously. These guys are a lot bigger than me and they say all the time: When you get a talented little guy versus a talented big guy, the odds are in the big guy’s favor. I think that’s the pressure. I don’t think it’s fair, really, because I’ve always been a light heavyweight. Despite who the champion’s been, I’ve never challenged anybody at heavyweight.

“I feel like I’ll move up to heavyweight on my own terms when I feel like the UFC is playing ball with me contractually to entertain that. No one has entertained any idea of switching the contract for any super fights, so, we’re just kind of stuck at this spot here fighting at light heavyweight.”

Luckily for fight fans, Jones seems motivated to prove he’s the best wherever he happens to fight. Both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions offer different types of challenges for “Bones,” but each give him the opportunity to shine under the bright lights.

“I think my next few fights are going to tell a lot about my legacy,” Jones said. “Anthony Smith is the first guy in the UFC that I’ve fought that was actually younger than me. I’ve beaten a lot of extremely talented athletes in their prime, but Anthony is younger and I’m excited just to answer questions to myself.

“How am I going to do with this next wave that’s coming? The Anthony Smith’s, the Thiago Santos’, the Corey Anderson’s (and) the Johnny Walker’s. These guys are young, they’re hungry and they’re dream-chasers. I think my best years are ahead of me. This is where I need to kick it up to an even higher level to remain in the position I’m in.”

As arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Jones doesn’t have much left to prove at the light heavyweight level. He has already decimated the division and will be a massive favorite to continue that trend moving forward (should he stay out of the USADA doghouse).

That’s why moving up to heavyweight and challenging the likes of Daniel Cormier, Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou, and Brock Lesnar is such an intriguing scenario. It’s one that may very well come true at some point in 2019, but Jones must get past Smith tonight at UFC 235 to make that a possibility.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 235 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania