As speculation mounts as to who newly re-crowned UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will face next, we take a look at the prime candidates in the reckoning for a shot at the number 1 pound for pound fighter in the promotion
While there is a slight possibility that Jones may engage in a trilogy fight with Daniel Cormier, another “Bones” vs. “DC” bout looks to be unlikely at this point. Instead, we take a look at four opponents who have a stronger case for a shot at the 30-year-old.
A very credible option should Jones choose to stay at light heavyweight.
Many will remember the test which Jones was handed by Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165. Jones and Gustafsson put on an absolute spectacle on the night, in what many would attest to as being one of the most impressive title fights in UFC history. This is a match up which has been mooted on many occasion and could realistically be on the cards for later this year.
While Gustafsson’s trajectory has not exactly ascended since that fight, his fifth-round knockout of Glover Teixeira earlier this year proved to most that he is still capable of challenging the 30-year-old This would certainly be among the fans’ first choices for Jones’ first defense should he stay in the light heavyweight division
Oezdimir may not be the most popular match ups for Jones right now, but it is very clear that the man has great potential.
Oezdemir’s path to potential title fight reckoning has been a dramatic one, to say the least. Initially brought in as a last minute opponent for a previous challenger of Jones, Ovince St. Preux, The Swiss built upon an impressive victory over “OSP” with two explosive and convincing wins over light heavyweight top prospects Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa – both men were put away in under one minute.
It is clear that Oezdimir is inexperienced in terms of UFC fights (just three), but there is no doubt that his thunderous performance against Manuwa, a man who was expected to challenge the winner of Jones vs. Cormier, has put him into the reckoning.
Stipe Miocic currently holds the UFC heavyweight title and has definitely had his head turned by Jones’ recent call out of former champion Brock Lesnar.
Despite Jones claiming Miocic is ‘irrelevant to the public eye’, this fight would sure to be one of the most intense match ups in UFC history. Miocic certainly feels it is a fight that makes sense:
“Listen, I’ll fight anyone. If the UFC wants me to fight Jon, I’ll fight him,” Miocic told FloCombat. “All I care about right now is breaking that [heavyweight title defense] record, winning now and keeping the belt for a long time. I think I am relevant, I don’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t have as many fans as him on social media maybe, but I’m pretty sure I’m relevant.”
“I’m the baddest man on the planet for a reason,” he continued. “He can think what he wants, whatever. Listen, at the end of the day I am relevant.”
“It would be a huge fight. I don’t understand why you don’t think it would be a huge fight. You’ve got pound-for-pound best fighter in the world against No. 4 pound-for-pound. We’re both champions and it’s a fight people want to see. But I’m irrelevant right now so we’ll see.”
Imagine the scenes…
While this one may seem far fetched, it is probably more likely that one would think. Granted, Lesnar would need to re-enter USADA’s testing pool and serve the six month suspension incurred as a result of his UFC 200 bout against Mark Hunt (drug related), but money talks.
WME-IMG, the company who acquired the UFC for $4 billion dollars last year, would certainly approve. A match up between man mountain Lesnar and perhaps the greatest UFC fighter of all time in Jones.
As weird as this may sound, it is probably the most likely of all four to happen (at some point, at least).