UFC 247 aftermath: 4 potential future opponents for Jon Jones
After defending his title against Dominick Reyes in perhaps his toughest test to date, Jon Jones remains the UFC Light-Heavyweight champion. Whether ‘Bones’ truly deserved the decision against Reyes is another matter entirely, but the fact is that after UFC 247, he remains on top of the mountain.
So what’s next for arguably the UFC’s most controversial star? There are a number of options, but perhaps one of the following fighters could step up to the plate.
#1 Dominick Reyes
The most obvious option for the UFC would simply be to rematch Jones with Dominick Reyes. ‘The Devastator’ came closer than anyone has done before to dethroning the champion, and more to the point, there were plenty of fans and analysts who actually believed Reyes had done enough to deserve the nod from the judges.
Given Jones’ dominance prior to the clash at UFC 247, a rematch between the two wouldn’t be a hard sell; could Reyes manage to complete his mission by finally defeating Jones? Or would Jones show up better prepared for what he now knows the young star can now bring? After all, Jones has traditionally performed better in his rematches – just ask Daniel Cormier or Alexander Gustafsson.
With any hope, neither man will end up out of action for a great period of time following this weekend’s fight – and so we could see a rematch before 2020 is out.
#2 Stipe Miocic
Rumours of a move to Heavyweight for Jones have been flying around for years now, and while the current champion Stipe Miocic is currently likely to face off with Jones’ great rival Daniel Cormier in a third fight between the two, it’s hard not to imagine what could happen should the UFC decide to book a champion vs. champion clash.
Jones certainly has the frame to be a capable – potentially great – Heavyweight; at 6’4” he’s as tall as most of the men in the division and his 84.5” reach is longer than practically anyone else’s in the entire promotion. Add in his wrestling skills, striking talents and cardio and he’d be a match for any big man.
But would his iron chin hold up at the higher weight against heavier hitters like Miocic? He’s been able to absorb any punishment thrown his way at 205lbs, but Miocic has knocked out far bigger men and hits ridiculously hard.
Throw in Miocic’s strong wrestling background, and you’d also have to question whether Jones could remain vertical throughout a fight between the two. Jones might see this as an easy win, but the truth is it’d be anything but – the only easy thing about it would be the fact that it’d be an easy sell for the UFC.
#3 Daniel Cormier
The other option for Jones – whether he chose to remain at 205lbs or move to Heavyweight – could be a third fight with his greatest rival, Daniel Cormier. Sure, the UFC has planned for a while to rematch Cormier with Miocic, but the promotion has changed plans before, and they could easily book a Miocic/Francis Ngannou fight for the Heavyweight title instead while putting together this trilogy fight.
What use would a third Jones/Cormier fight be, given Jones was able to outwork ‘DC’ in their first meeting and then TKO him in their second? Well, the truth is that the second fight will always have an asterisk next to it due to Jones’ subsequent positive test for PED’s – regardless of his claims that he didn’t actually cheat.
That means that questions still remain over whether a clean Jones could actually overcome Cormier, and that alone – as well as the former Olympian’s likely thirst for revenge – make this a fight worth considering. For Cormier, ending Jones’ long winning streak would likely mean more than winning another UFC title – and for the UFC, it’d essentially mean a ton of money, something the promotion has never shied away from.
#4 Israel Adesanya
One curveball option that the UFC could throw towards Jones would be a fight with reigning UFC Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Of course, a fight between ‘Bones’ and ‘The Last Stylebender’ would be contingent on Adesanya defeating Yoel Romero in a month’s time at UFC 248, but should he down the Cuban, then the likelihood is that this will be the fight that he asks for next.
Adesanya and Jones have been sniping at each other in the media for some time now – with Jones usually attempting to swat his smaller rival’s threats and barbs away – but the truth is that the promotion’s fanbase would eat this fight up, particularly if Adesanya were to put Romero away in the same fashion that he did to Robert Whittaker in 2019.
In all honesty, Jones wouldn’t have a lot to gain from this fight, which is why it feels somewhat unlikely; should he win, he’d merely have defeated a much smaller opponent, something that certain fans already claim he does against the majority of the 205lbs division, and of course, should he lose, any claim he has to being the greatest fighter of all time would be gone.
Even so, there’s still a nagging feeling that this fight would be tremendous. Could Jones deal with Adesanya’s pinpoint striking? And how would ‘The Last Stylebender’ counter Jones’ powerful grappling? Basically, this could be the closest we’ll ever get to Jones vs. Anderson Silva, and that alone makes it an easy sell for the UFC.Published 10 Feb 2020, 00:19 IST