I feel like Jon Jones is just going to destroy Dan Henderson and when that happens, there's not going to be anyone left. Guys like Alexander Gustafsson and Phil Davis just aren't good enough to compete with him and I don't think that's going to change so quickly. If he beats Henderson, is there any reason he shouldn't move up to heavyweight? It would make light heavyweight more interesting, since the other former champs wouldn't have to contend with him, and Jones could quickly build his legacy as an all-time great. -- Ryan from Oklahoma
Mike Whitman, news editor: Las Vegas agrees with you, Ryan. As expected, Jones has opened as a massive favorite over the former two-time Pride Fighting Championships titlist. While I wouldn’t think of openly disrespecting a fighter as accomplished as Henderson, it is undeniable that most believe Jones’ victory is a foregone conclusion.
If we entertain the hypothetical scenario in which “Bones” once again retains his light heavyweight title, the question of Jones’ potential heavyweight aspirations suddenly becomes a valid one for the first time ever.
While ranking Jones’ abilities and accomplishments to this point is an intimidating undertaking, attempting to perform the same trick in regard to what the young man might accomplish in the future is enough to drive one mad. In his last four fights, he has run through former champions Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. Light heavyweight was once a division that sported arguably the greatest parity in the UFC. Jones changed all that.
If he manages to best Henderson, worthy challengers are few and far between, despite Mike Goldberg’s insistence on loudly announcing Alexander Gustafsson’s perceived similarities to the champ during the Swede’s one-sided dance with Thiago Silva. Manufactured attempts at generating interest in Gustafsson do not change the fact that, while a talented prospect with an excellent skill set, “The Mauler” is a long way off from being ready to mess with the best.
In my estimation, one fight still holds some mild intrigue for Jones if he manages to get by Henderson, and that is a rematch with “Shogun,” provided the stars align and the Brazilian can get another win or two under his belt. Rua’s ill-fated title defense against Jones at UFC 128 came after a year-long layoff during which the onetime Pride grand prix champion underwent knee surgery.
Regardless of whether that fight materializes, you are right to say that Jones has little left for him at 205 pounds unless another crop of elite talent spontaneously appears. The real issue is whether it is a smart move for Jones to begin packing on the pounds to make the jump to heavyweight so early in his career. He has many years left in this sport, and bulking up too quickly might hamper some of the speed and coordination that has made him such a force at light heavyweight.
Though jumping in with monsters like Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem, Frank Mir and Junior dos Santos could certainly hold great riches for Jones, that decision could also backfire. The young man has a wealth of time to slowly ready himself to compete as a heavyweight in the years to come. As such, I’m sure “Bones” and his handlers will assess the risk of such a move carefully.
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