Jon Jones has ruled his time in the UFC with an Iron fist. The man known as “Bones” has made the words Prodigy, Expert and GOAT seem less than when discussing his talent as a fighter. The youngest and most dominant fighter of all time (yes above Anderson, GSP, and even Khabib) has been teasing his much anticipated Heavyweight debut for a little over 2 years now. Will we ever see him fight a weight class above? Will he be as dominant in the new weight? Or will his demons once again derail a career that was headed towards being the next LeBron, Tom Brady or Ronaldo of MMA?
The heavyweight division has been evolving right before our eyes. Long gone are the days of fat and out of shape power punchers that only had one trick up their sleeve. We have seen fighters like Stipe, Francis, Gane and Lewis, single-handedly morph the division into some of the most athletic and powerful fighters in the world. They move like middleweight but still hit like a Mack truck. Jon realizes this as his frame and weightlifting regimens have also changed drastically and his focus has been on gaining mass while retaining speed and cardio.
Options: Jon has yet to sign a contract as an HW but it sure seems like everyone in the division has thrown their hat into the ring looking for a fight against Bones. While many see Francis as the best solution (and possibly the most exciting) let’s not forget that there is a man who holds the record for most title defences as a heavyweight (not Francis) who is still under contract with the promotion. Stipe Miocic has in some ways become an afterthought for some fans, but for those that remember the Miocic era, we can’t help but feel that it is a travesty that he didn’t get an immediate rematch, the only way to make up for this is to match him up against Jon. Rember that Francis is in a current contract dispute as well as being shelved for a bit while recovering from a knee injury, Gane is likely waiting for the winner of Lewis vs Tui vasa.
Advantages: Speed kills! As an LHW Jon was still incredibly fast and capable of pulling off moves that would mesmerise both onlookers and opponents alike. While he is sure to command a speed advantage against the more naturally bigger and slower fighters it is his natural fighting ability, creativity and willingness to try things in the cage that will make him a threat regardless of the weight class. As previously mentioned Jon is the youngest champ ever and that experience and knowledge of massive fights/cards will serve as an advantage as his comeback is undoubtedly going to have the attention of the MMA world. Finally
Disadvantages: If speed kills, so does power and the HW division has an abundance of it. One-touch and its night-night for anyone that tries their luck. Not to mention many are questioning if Jon will be able to take a power leg kick from someone like Francis or Gane. Maybe Jon’s frame which has served him so well in the LHW division will be his undoing as he is not used to carrying the weight like some of these other lifelong HW’s. We have also not seen Jon compete since he beat Dominick Reyes in 2020 and ring rust could be a major factor in his comeback. While Jon was a longtime Jackson Wink disciple he has also left his one time home to new ventures, this could also present problems from a stability standpoint.
Who will he face: I truly believe Stipe will face Jon either later in the year or possibly first thing in 2023. While Jon seems like a man on a mission to win gold in another division while continuing to prove his GOAT status, the fact remains that Jon is still his own worst enemy, he was involved in yet another highly publicized incident which makes everyone feel like he is still the same loose cannon as before who doesn’t care or learn from his mistakes. As long as he can keep himself out of trouble and establish himself with his new gym we could be treated to a new levelled up version of the GREATEST fighter of all time.
Final Prediction: Jone fights and beats Stipe, waits for Francis before breaking the bank in what will be the biggest fight ever in either fighter’s career. I don’t see Jon fighting anyone else after the Francis fight so I predict he retires, he has seen and done it all. 1st ballot HOF for sure regardless of controversies. Now the only man that I do believe can pull off a fight vs Jon is another hated rival in Israel Adesanya.