Who should Jon Jones fight when his suspension is up in July 2017? Should he get an immediate title shot or would you book him against someone else?
ROBERT VALLEJOS, MMATorch contributor
Look, it is not fair for Jon Jones to get a title shot upon his return. However, the UFC needs to successfully facilitate a Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier rematch once and for all. If Cormier happens to still be the champ, so be it. It is not like Jones is actually coming off a loss. However, If I’m the UFC, I will not make Jones’s return fight the main event. Due to the track record of Jones, his next fight should be part of a mega-card, but the UFC would be wise not to rely on a Jones fight to sell a pay-per-view.
MATTHEW ECHOCHART, MMATorch contributor
Jon Jones will most likely need to take another fight again in July because he just can’t stay clean and out of trouble. He needs to prove he can take a fight and stay ready to actually fight again. I’d say a return bout against Alexander Gustafsson or Ryan Bader would be a good test for him and to see where his skills are at in a return bout next year.
JASON AMADI, MMATorch contributor
The Jon Jones saga coupled with the explosive knockout power of Anthony Johnson have masked just how shallow the Light Heavyweight Division is. With the recent injury of Alexander Gustafsson (who has lost to all the top contenders), there really isn’t an obvious contender for the Light Heavyweight Championship, so it’s possible that both Johnson and Cormier are iced until Jones’s return just to preserve a marquee matchup in the division. Win or lose at UFC 206, I think most people are excited to see a potential matchup between Anthony Johnson and Jon Jones, so I think that is a fight that should either headline or co-headline a card once Jones is eligible to compete.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATorch contributor
I don’t think I would give him an immediate title shot unless he really wanted it and campaigned for it hard. He’s spent a lot more time not fighting in the recent years than fighting, so I wouldn’t expect him to just come in and compete for the title straight away. I would give him a fight against a top five fighter in the division just to see where he’s at. If he wins that, then you can give him a title shot. Not everyone is UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, who can come in off of extended layoffs and seemingly be a better fighter. Honestly, though, I would also want to kick the can on this because I would want to wait to see what the division looks like at the time when Jones is able to return. That would influence my decision on this, as to whether or not I’d have Jones leapfrog contenders to get an immediate title shot.
WADE KELLER, MMATorch editor
Jones is just too good to play too many “prove yourself again” games. Like Ronda Rousey, it just makes sense to put him in a big main event and hype the hell out of it and just hope he can stay out of trouble. I’d also, though, load up the undercard so the card can absorb an injury. Daniel Cormier will be 38 when Jones returns, and that’s why I just don’t think you can justify keeping those two apart while Jones fights others first. That’s a rivalry, and more than owing it to the fans or even to Jones, Cormier is owed that elusive rematch and a chance to prove he can beat his nemesis. He’s won 18 fights and lost exactly one. I suspect Jones will win again, but who’s to say for sure with the time Jones has had off. I would book Jones vs. Cormier either as a title match or a contender’s match, depending on whether Cormier is champion at that time. Either way, get that fight out of the way.
NOW CHECK OUT PART ONE OF THIS ROUNDTABLE: ROUNDTABLE (pt. 1 of 2): Who should Jon Jones fight when his suspension is up in July 2017? Should he get an immediate title shot?