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3/28/16: Top future fights to make for Jon Jones
With Jon Jones returning next month, today I look at the best fights to put together for him in the future, including the matchup he’s facing at UFC 197.
1. Daniel Cormier: Let’s start with what’s already on the docket. There’s a legitimate dislike between these two fighters, and though Jones beat Cormier convincingly in their first fight last January, they’ve still got some legitimate heat on the rematch. What helps elevate the matchup is Cormier’s drive after falling short for the first time in his MMA career, and seeing Jones perhaps return even stronger than he was after having everything taken from him due to his out-of-the-cage actions. Regardless, it’s a fight both fighters have to win, and it’s going to be a great one next month.
2. Fabricio Werdum: The idea of Jones at heavyweight has been something fans and writers have been thinking about for years, and Jones himself continues to say it’s on his mind as well. Should he recapture the title he never lost, a super fight with the UFC’s Heavyweight Champion is easily the best and most exciting fight on the docket for him from there. He’s already a large light heavyweight, and with his strength, reach, and well rounded attack, the only question at heavyweight becomes how he – and his chin – handle heavier, harder-hitting opponents. Werdum being at the top of the heap makes that the goal fight for Jones, and it would be fantastic to see come together.
3. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson: The only top light heavyweight challenge Jones hasn’t yet dispatched remains a massively intriguing matchup from a stylistic standpoint. We’ve seen Jones take fighters from so many different styles and beat them at their own games, but against Johnson he’d be up against the most dangerous striker he’s faced yet in the division. There are many ways for Jones to beat Johnson, especially as the fight goes late, but Johnson’s fight-changing hands make him a complete wild card as a title challenger, and it’s an opponent Jones needs to get past at some point should he hold onto that title again.
4. Cain Velasquez: In many ways a similar opponent to Cormier, Jones would find himself up against DC’s teammate, and a man who very well could be simply a more dangerous version. The major difference between Cormier and Velasquez is that Velasquez is much more dangerous on the feet, and with his ground and pound. Cormier’s great with his wrestling and control game, but Velasquez is capable of severe damage from top position, as well as in the clinch. Jones hasn’t been against someone who can truly bully him around, and if DC can’t get it done, Velasquez may eventually get his opportunity to avenge his friend.
5. Alexander Gustafsson: Though Gustafsson is a bit further away due to losses against DC and Johnson, the close nature of the first fight between he and Jones leaves some unfinished business there. Jones contends he wasn’t taking Gustafsson as seriously as he should have, and believes a rematch would wind up much clearer in his favor, and given how great the first fight was the rematch would be very welcome indeed. It’s likely to happen should Jones regain the title and defeat the presumed next challenger in Johnson.
[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]
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