Jon Jones began his journey as a professional mixed martial artist in 2008. He signed with the UFC in August of the same year. In his first fight at UFC 87, he defeated André Gusmão.
At just 21 years of age, Jones defeated UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar. Apart from a single disqualification loss, his momentum did not slow down. In 2011, Jon Jones became the UFC light heavyweight champion after defeating Mauricio Rua.
He has defended his title a total of eleven times. However, run-ins with the law and suspensions have marred his otherwise immaculate championship run. The two-time champion was stripped of his belt once in April 2015, then in 2016 and again in 2017. Jon Jones made his last title defense in February 2020 against Dominick Reyes.
In August of the same year, he relinquished the title and announced his move to heavyweight. Since then, he has teased fans with short training clips.
On September 24, 2021, Jon Jones' fight with Alexander Gustafsson was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Former welterweight and middleweight champion George St-Pierre was inducted as well.
Speaking to the press after the event, the 34-year-old sounded optimistic about his return to the octagon. He also spoke about his consistent training and plans to go up to 270lbs before cutting to 265lbs. Jones further stated he would like to fight the winner of Ngannou vs. Gane in 2022. Regarding the potential bout, 'Bones' also revealed that negotiations with the UFC were going well.
However, things turned grim when news of Jones' arrest came mere hours after the induction. He was charged with domestic violence, misdemeanor and felony. The former champion is out on bail and is due to appear in court on October 26, 2021. On September 28, he posted an Instagram story of himself working out, where he wrote:
“Turn this nightmare into the best thing to ever happen in my life.”
It seems the former champion is still hopeful about his return. When that happens, it'll likely be against one of the best heavyweights in the UFC. On that note, here's how he matches up against the top 5.
#5. Jon Jones vs. Curtis Blaydes
Curtis 'Razor' Blaydes is currently among the best heavyweights in the UFC. An established wrestler and NJCAA national champion, Blaydes signed with the UFC in 2016. He is currently 15-3-1, losing only to Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis. Ngannou spoiled his debut and TKO'd 'Razor' in their rematch. His latest victory was against Jairzinho Rozenstruik on 26 September 2021.
The 30-year-old could present some problems for Jon Jones. Apart from his impressive wrestling, he has heavy hands. He is also technical and does not swing for the fences.
The Illinois native is always looking for an opening to take his opponents down. Jon Jones is himself a prolific wrestler and striker. A match between the two would be a great clash of similar styles.
#4. Jon Jones vs. Derrick Lewis
Jon Jones going up against Derrick Lewis would be huge. Lewis is among the most entertaining fighters to ever compete in the UFC. 'The Black Beast' has been fighting in the UFC for nearly a decade. The entire division fears his devastating power. With twelve KOs, he holds the record for most knockouts in heavyweight history. He has won 16 of his 22 fights in the promotion.
The power puncher will be quite the challenge for Jon Jones. Lewis is among the biggest heavyweights in the business. He uses his size to mount and finish his opponents with massive punches. Many fighters have dominated him only to be knocked unconscious with one clean shot.
On paper, Jon Jones surpasses the man from Houston with his skillset. But no one can disregard the 36-year-old's legendary knockout power.
#3. Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic is arguably the greatest heavyweight champion in UFC history. He holds the record for most heavyweight title fight wins, as well as most title defenses. Apart from Jones, he is the only other man to have beaten Daniel Cormier twice.
The Ohio-born heavyweight made his UFC debut in 2011 and defeated Joey Beltran. Miocic has beaten legends like Fabrício Werdum, Mark Hunt, Junior dos Santos, as well as current champ Francis Ngannou.
'The Silencer' is a technical striker and wrestler. He may not be among the hardest-hitting heavyweights, but he picks his shots. In almost all of his fights, Miocic sets the pace. When faced with more powerful opponents, he uses his wrestling to neutralize their power and dominate them with superior boxing.
Jon Jones and the 39-year-old are both very well-rounded fighters. Both deploy precision strikes, kicks, elbows, knees, and takedowns to full effect.
#2. Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane
Jon Jones undoubtedly has more experience than Ciryl Gane. However, everyone who has underestimated 'Bon Gamin' for lack of experience has lost. Gane has a professional MMA record of 10-0. Seven of those fights have been in the UFC. He also has a Muay Thai record of 13-0.
'Bon Gamin' is undefeated so far, yet many would still consider him a greenhorn. The Frenchman's rise to popularity and title contention has been swift. After six wins, he won the interim UFC heavyweight title by decisively putting away Derrick Lewis.
Ciryl Gane's biggest strength inside the octagon has been his agility. For a man of his size, he moves very well. The 30-year-old prefers to stick and move, chopping at the legs and body with kicks. He is also an adept submission artist. Jones vs. Ciryl Gane may shape up to be a five-round, tactical affair.
#1. Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou
Francis Ngannou might very well be the biggest challenge for Jon Jones. Since making his debut in December 2015, the champ has demolished nearly all of his opponents. Ten of his eleven wins have come via KO or TKO. Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem and Stipe Miocic are all part of his highlight reel.
The Nigerian challenged Miocic for the heavyweight crown in 2018. The man who had finished every opponent before the third round got dominated on this occasion. After dropping another unanimous decision loss to Derrick Lewis, Ngannou found his winning ways again.
Ngannou vs. Miocic 2 took place in March 2021. The 35-year-old looked like a different fighter, displaying superb takedown defense and knocking out Miocic in round two.
Jon Jones vs. 'The Predator' would probably be the biggest heavyweight bout in UFC history. Inside the octagon, Jones would need every bit of his skill and fight IQ to deal with the champion. Ngannou always had dynamite in his hands but now has immense precision too.
Jon Jones has rarely faced anyone with comparable knockout power to Ngannou. Despite being a more technical striker, 'Bones' could face a similar fate to those who have fought Ngannou before him.