Jon Jones’ performance at UFC 235 against Anthony Smith won’t go down as one of his best, but he still got the job done and defended his light heavyweight title, earning himself one of the UFC’s fancy new belts in the process. It almost went very wrong for him, though. An illegal knee in the fourth round could have resulted in a DQ loss, and he was very lucky Smith wasn’t interested in snatching a win that way.
It’s enough to make a fighter like Jones reconsider his plan to fight as often as possible against any Tom, Dick, or Harry the UFC puts in front of him. This Anthony Smith fight was a reminder that every bout involves risk, even if the main risk is just Jon Jones screwing himself over again.
So Jones sounded open to bigger, more lucrative match-ups while talking with reporters at the post-fight press conference. When asked if he still thought about heavyweight, “Bones” said there was only one name up there that interested him.
”I figure if I’m going to make the gamble, you might as well go extremely big,” he said at the post fight press conference. “Go big or go home. And a Brock Lesnar fight ... I mean, extremely high risk and extremely high reward. I don’t really see myself versus anyone that could bring in the kind of numbers me and Brock could bring in.”
Alas, Dana White is still committed to matching Lesnar up with Daniel Cormier should the WWE superstar ever actually step into the cage again.
”I think that Brock and Cormier want that fight,” White said when asked about Jones vs. Lesnar. “I owe Cormier a lot. Cormier wants that fight. Cormier’s going to get it.”
As for who White wanted to see Jones face next?
”I love the Thiago Santos fight,” he said. “I love that fight. I would love to see him verse Jon Jones.”
After years of toiling in relative obscurity at middleweight, Thiago “Marreta” Santos broke onto the light heavyweight scene like a wrecking ball, brutalizing three opponents in five months. He recently struggled through a knee injury and fight day illness to knock Jan Blachowicz out a week ago, and now that perseverance is paying off. With that highlight finish fresh on everyone’s mind, he’s earned himself the top spot in White’s opinion.
”Thiago looks unbelievable at that weight,” White said. “He’s big, I like his fighting style, and when you put Jon Jones in those type of fights, Jones shines. Jones sort of is one of those guys who rises to the level of his opponent. I think Thiago Santos is going to be one of those guys who comes in aggressive, moves forward and gives you the kind of fight that you’re used to seeing Jon Jones in.”
Jones dodged questions on who he thought might be the next number one contender, but still seemed willing to take out whoever the UFC put in that spot.
“Whoever it may be, I’m ready to take them all,” Jones said. “I think all these younger fighters should get their opportunity at a world title. When you’re sitting in my position, its like who am I to deny people? I’m not going to talk ahead too much. I’m going to get with my coaches. We are a close, tight-knit family. This career is not mine, it’s all of ours. We’re going to talk about what we want next, who we want to fight next and just play it like that.”
”At the end of the day, I feel like this is my time and my era, and I was meant to be here to be a great champion. This belt here is supposed to be covered in red rubies. And I got a new challenge to get this thing covered in red rubies, and if that means I got to beat a lot of ass, and I’m up for the challenge.”