Saturday, August 4, 2012

The case for Jon Jones at Heavyweight

       Jon Jones has one of the most impressive records in the history of MMA, but it's come at the expense of the UFC's light heavyweight division. If Jon Jones defeats Dan Henderson at UFC 151, which if the odds makers are any indication seems likely. Jones will have defeated the consensus top 5 light heavyweights in the world and 6 of the top 10 in just over 2 years. Leaving exactly zero intriguing matches in the division for Jones. 

     People think that a little time will make for a refreshed pool of contenders at 205lbs, but the fact is that outside of Phil Davis and Alexander Gustafsson, there is no one on the horizon and Davis & Gustafsson only have three wins against top ten opponents between the two of them, making them less then ideal candidates for a shot at the sports most prestigious title.

     Some in the industry have been banging the rematch drum, with Dana White going so far as to claim that with a win over Brandon Vera Saturday, Shogun Rua would have put himself inline for a rematch with Jon Jones and a shot at regaining the title. If that doesn't feel right, it's because it's not. Rua would be facing Jones, a man who he's already lost to decisively, on the back of a one fight win streak. With the lone victory in that win streak coming over the 23rd ranked light heavyweight on the planet. That does not make for a compelling fight nor is it befitting of a fighter of Jon Jones' caliber.
    The UFC has had major issues creating stars to replace it's initial batch with only George St.Pierre and Anderson Silva being major PPV aces now that cross over star Brock Lesnar has moved on to the WWE. In Jon Jones they have their next superstar but they have yet to fully leverage his incredible run through the UFC's marquee division into PPV buys. Part of it is timing with injuries plaguing the scheduling of a red hot grudge match with Rashad Evans. But the other issue, especially going forward is competition, Jon Jones has been so dominate over the course of his career that none of his opponents past or present were thought to truly have much of a shot, and won't be in the future either when the inevitable rematches roll around. This effects PPV buys, even if Machida crane kicks Bader's head into space, or Shogun KO's Vera with a spinning round house kick. I'll still have zero interest in either of them rematching Jon Jones same goes for Rashad Evans. They can make all the adjustments they want, switch camps, what ever, chances are they'll still lose the rematch, probably in similar fashion to how they lost their first bouts with Jones. Jones is just that good. A victim of his own greatness.
   But this isn't an entirely bad thing, in that it ends up providing the UFC with a huge opportunity to really maximize Jon Jones potential while freshening up two of the companies most important divisions. 

The case for Jon Jones at Heavyweight.

With Jon Jones' dominance at light heavyweight taking away from fan interest in his future match ups, a move to heavyweight would create major interest in Jones future fights by a setting him up with a slate of fresh big name fighters to fight. Secondly it would produce interest by creating the potential for Jon Jones to look fallible. Which is something that is sorely missing from his matches at light heavyweight. Everyone wants to see the champion endure or overcome adversity in the cage and the potential matches at light heavy aren't conducive to creating the kind of fights that will truly test Jones' mettle.

A fight with Fabricio Werdum though? That I'd like to see, because I have no idea how it would  go. What I do know is that Werdum is a good sized heavyweight, he's got a granite chin, and a well rounded game that would make for just the kind of fight that people would love to see, same goes for Overeem, or Velaquez let alone if he can get to Dos Santos, who happens to likes the idea.
"Jon Jones is really good. He's really good. It's different, for sure. If he comes up to the heavyweight division, it's gonna be tough for us, for sure. I really like him, but if he comes up to the heavyweight division, and he gets the chance to fight for the title, we're gonna fight. I will give my best to beat him. It doesn't matter who my opponent is. If it's gonna be him, I don't care."

Another upside to Jones moving up in weight, is that in his absence, the 205lbs division is all of sudden one of the most competitive divisions in the company with Rashad, Shogun, Machida, and Henderson all Jockeying for position. Maybe Anderson Silva takes a cue from Jon Jones and also moves up a division? Who wouldn't want to see Silva vs Shogun, Evans, or a rematch with Dan Henderson? 

No matter how you slice it Jon Jones moving to heavyweight is the right move as it creates the most compelling fights for Bones, it temporarily revitalizes two weight classes, and it will improve PPV buy rates for his fights weather he is successful or not.  Jon Jones at heavyweight? I say Ok.    



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