It is hard to remember a time when Jon Jones was not in the public imagination as a UFC fighter. At 23 years of age, Bones became the youngest champion in UFC history by defeating Mauricio Rua in 2011. He also holds the record for most title fight victories in the promotion's history.
15 of the most elite 205ers failed to dethrone Jon Jones for almost a decade, who then vacated the title in 2020 to chase the heavyweight belt. It is natural for anyone to wonder, though, if Jon Jones is too old to have title aspirations. The answer is no.
As of April 2021, Jon Jones is 33 years and 10 months old, which is only slightly above the average age of current UFC champions which is 32 years and 6 months. However, numbers can be deceiving sometimes. At 28 years of age, Rose Namajunas (115lbs) is the only current UFC champion who is significantly younger than Jon Jones.
Meanwhile, Deiveson Figueiredo (125lbs) and Valentina Shevchenko(125lbs), along with welterweight king Kamaru Usman are all 33 years old, the same age as Jon Jones. Amanda Nunes (135lbs, 145lbs) and Alexander Volkanovski (145lbs) are slightly younger than Jones at 32 years of age, while Israel Adesanya (185lbs) and Aljamain Sterling (135lbs) are 31 years old.
Jon Jones is still young for the heavyweight division
Champions of the divisions that interest Jon Jones are both older than him. At 38 years of age, light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz is the oldest UFC champion on the UFC roster, while heavyweight kingpin Francis Ngannou is a year older than Jon Jones at 34.
Jon Jones is not among the youngest UFC fighters anymore but he is still very much in his prime. Lower weight classes demand attributes that do not necessarily stay with an athlete once he starts approaching 35. However, power and durability mostly determine the outcome of heavyweight fights, and they are also the attributes that leave the last.
Although critics have associated Jon Jones's success at light heavyweight with his longer-than-usual reach and size advantage, Jones has achieved heights of competitive achievements because of his high fight IQ and formidable skill set. The narrow victories in Jon Jones's most recent fights against Thiago Santos and Dominick Reyes suggested that the division had finally started catching up with him.
But there appears to be a substantial skill gap between Jon Jones and the heavyweight division, on paper. It will be interesting to see how the UFC's longest-reigning champion does in the division if his negotiations with the promotion succeed.