Last night’s UFC 172 showed us a lot of thing. We saw that it’s unwise to stand in front of Chris Beal, otherwise you will eat a knee from hell. We saw that Charlie Brenneman needs to never fight in the Octagon again lest he die. We saw that Jim Miller is one of the nicest badasses around. And we saw that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is the kind of beast that other UFC light-heavyweights should fear. But what of champ Jon Jones, who thoroughly dominated top contender Glover Teixeira in a fight that was entirely in the realm where the Brazilian should have had the edge? In that main event bout, we saw that even with the departure of two of the organization’s legends (Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva), the UFC still has a demigod or two on its roster. Which begs the question: What next for Jon Jones?
Really, there are only three options for Jones’ future.
- A Rematch with Alexander Gustafsson – As the only man to ever put a beating on the champ, Gustafsson is the logical choice as the next top contender for Jones’ crown, and Dana White said as much during the postfight presser last night. It’s also a compelling match-up to make. From what we saw in Jones and Gustafsson’s first go-around, the Swede’s size, resilience and striking ability make for a tough fight for the world’s best 205-pound fighter, and winning tough fights are what make fighters great. In that regard, Jones needs Gustafsson just as Muhammed Ali needed Joe Frazier. Only through the brightly-burning crucible of combat can we see Jones’ mettle, and we know from experience that Gustafsson makes those flames burn bright.
- A Fight Against Anthony Johnson – It would be unfair at this point to say that Rumble is a legitimate threat to the champ’s reign. After all, thus far in his return to the UFC, we’ve only seen Johnson dominate Phil Davis, and Davis is a far cry from what Jones brings to the table. But momentum is everything, and Johnson has it from beating a top ten light-heavyweight. Will he be able to stuff Jones’ takedowns and land some leather through the champ’s inevitable barrage of long-range kicks and short-range elbows? Probably not. But who else is there in the 205-pound pipeline who looks as compelling?
- A Move to Heavyweight – Sure, champ Cain Velasquez would probably kill him, but if Jones were to jump up a weight class on a lark (much like Anderson Silva did a few times), there are a slew of lesser fighters that would make for an interesting match-up. It would be fascinating to see how the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world would do against Mark Hunt, Josh Barnett or Fabricio Werdum, no?
These are just a few suggestions. What do you think Jones should do next?