What should Jon Jones’ next light heavyweight title defence be?
Sean Covington, Columnist – Covington’s Corner
Besides a drug test, I think Thiago Santos is a great option for Jones but I feel like Santos is going to have to get past Johnny Walker first. There is no one else that stands out that is currently a light heavyweight. I’ve been saying for a while that people need to move up in weight, such as Yoel Romero.
Frank Hyden, Columnist – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I think it’s Thiago Santos. For one, I’m not sure who else it could be but also, Santos has been fighting well lately. Would he beat Jones? Probably not, but you got to go with guys who’ve earned the shot and Santos has as good a case for the shot as anyone. You could always go with Johnny Walker but then you run the risk of him getting destroyed and derailing him as a fighter. That would be quite a leap for Walker to get into the title picture. I would go with Santos, match Walker against a top guy and if he wins that, give him the next title shot.
Gary Meigs, MMATorch Contributor
The pickings in this division are getting slim for Jones as he has beaten the number 1 and 2 contenders multiple times. He also just beat the number 4 contender. All that leaves is Thiago Santos. If he won that fight which I believe he would all that’s left is a move to heavyweight and give us Jones Cormier 3 or the fight with Brock Lesnar.
Christian Moore, MMATorch Contributor
Thiago Santos. DC seems to be hell-bent on fighting Brock Lesnar for whatever reason, so that won’t happen. I think the only other legit contender is Johnny Walker, but he’s got to win 1 more time before being a challenger. Everyone else has either lost or is coming off of a loss recently. Reyes could contend with a win, but as for next, its Thiago Santos.
Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch Managing Editor
Thiago Santos makes sense in that he has a recent win and he’s knocking guys out, which makes it an easier sell than some other options. With that said, there are other options for Jones at light heavyweight, although none of them are perfect.
One fighter that seems to be getting overlooked is Corey Anderson. His wrestling might be good enough to keep a fight with Jones competitive. But his wins have been unremarkable and it would be a tough fight to sell.
Dominick Reyes is undefeated and has quality wins over Jared Cannonier and Ovince Saint Preux recently. If he beat Volkan Oezdemir in London next week, he’s right in the mix. The downside to Reyes is that it may be early for him and he’s someone that can be built up over another few fights.
A wildcard idea that I kind of like would be Shogun Rua. Shogun has quietly won four of his last five with some quality wins over Anderson, and most recently a very impressive win over Tyson Pedro. It might be a nice bookend to Jon Jones’ light heavyweight run to have his last defence before moving to heavyweight against the man he won the title from in 2011. The quick loss to Anthony Smith hurts Shogun’s case, but I still really like the idea of Jones-Shogun II all these years later. After having some success with Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson a few years back, this seems like the kind of fight UFC would like to book.