Who could be next for Jon Jones?
March 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
I am writing this post in acknowledgement of the ever shortening list of fighters available to be put through the Jon Jones shredder. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not for a second discounting Rashad Evans’ chances at UFC 145, even if the bookmakers are. To me, Rashad Evans is the toughest fight of Jones’ career to date and is the man best equipped to take the belt. That said, if Evans should fail to regain the light heavyweight title, who else is really out there to face the champion? I have compiled a list, admittedly it is a short and multi-divisional list, of the last remaining beacons of hope should Evans fall.
1. Dan Henderson
Hendo is on a tear. He’s on a four fight win streak which includes wins over MMA legends Fedor Emelianenko and Shogun Rua. Henderson had vacated his Strikeforce light heavyweight title to pursue Jones and the UFC title. Stylistically, this may prove to be a difficult fight for Jones. Henderson possesses knock out power in his hands but he also has the wrestling credentials to possibly take the fight to the mat.
This fight scenario is very reminiscent of Henderson versus Silva in which the American succumbed to a rear naked choke. Jones has yet to demonstrate that he has a ground game as deadly as Silva’s. The submission victories the young champion has are against opponents so battered and demoralized that they limply concede limbs and necks.
Jones has faced a similar foe already. Ryan Bader is a watered-down version of Henderson- big one punch power and accomplished wrestling. The ease in which Bader was beaten must be a concern for Henderson fans.
2. Alexander Gustafsson
Alexander Gustafsson is like Jon Jones in a way. Very young and very promising and with only one blemish on his record. He has looked a real contender recently, finishing his last four opponents. He has yet to beat a top ranked opponent but his compition level has been gradually increasing.
In his next fight he will be facing dangerous Brazilain Thiago Silva at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in Sweden and if he can win impressively, necessity of a challenger in such a bare division may force the young swede into the title picture.
3. Anderson Silva
This is the most interesting fight of the list. Weirdly, despite dominating for six years, Anderson Silva is still further away from clearing his division than Jon Jones. Should Silva get past Sonnen he will still have to face the likes of Michael Bisping, Rousimar Palhares and Chris Weidman before his domination of the middleweight division is complete. Jones on the other hand has already dispatched of Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida in such devastating fashion that rematches are out of the question. Apart from a few, the light heavyweight division is full of fighters past their prime or stumbling inconsistently.
4. Gegard Mousasi
The Strikeforce fighter and DREAM light heavyweight champion has always been one of the fighters fans having been craving to see in the UFC. If he can claim the vacant Strikeforce light heavyweight title then he may just finally have earned his rightful place in the big league. Not only would he be entering the big league but he will be entering a thoroughly depleted division.
5. Frank Mir
Like when Anderson Silva moved up to light heavy and fought Forrest Griffin, Jon Jones should just dip his toe in the water by facing a top 5 contender. Frank Mir has the skills and the name to match up with the PPV selling standards of Jon Jones.
This is all hypothetical though as Jones still has to get through Rashad Evans at UFC 145. Knowing my luck, Evans will likely win the fight rendering this article pointless.