Who Could Defeat Jon “Bones” Jones?

We’ve all watched or heard by now that Jon “Bones” Jones has successfully defended his title against heavy-hitter Rampage Jackson in dominating fashion at UFC 135. It really was a clinic, courtesy of Mr. Jones, keeping Rampage at bay with accurate kicks which came from every angle. In the fight, Jackson took a spinning elbow to the cranium, punches to the jaw, a front kick to the face, and numerous spinning/side/roundhouse kicks to the head, body, thighs, and knees. It was a tough night for the former champ, which ended with him being taken down and submitted via rear-naked choke in the 4th round. Whoever said that Jones couldn’t win it in the championship rounds was dead wrong; Jones is legit, and even had Rampage singing his praises after the fight.

Jones poses plenty of problems for the fighters in the 205 division. First off, physically, the guy’s a winner in the genetic lottery. At 6 foot 4, he makes for a very tall light heavyweight, plus he’s fast, strong, explosive, and has great conditioning. Most daunting of all, he has the longest reach in the division, allowing him to dish out accurate strikes without taking much damage. Even when he’s on the ground, his reach gives him more torque when he’s dropping elbows: nasty, nasty elbows. Skill-wise, Jones is very dangerous. He tries unexpected Judo and wrestling throws and has unorthodox striking, keeping his opponents guessing at all times. Aside from being creative and effective with his attacks on the feet, he also has great submission, winning three fights by submission. His long reach helps him cinch up these submissions and, though he usually finishes fights standing, the threat of submissions keeps his opponents thinking twice before attempting to take the fight to the ground. Mr. Jones is confident and knows how to handle pressure and how to rise to the occasion. If these factors weren’t enough to convince you that Jones is a huge threat at 205, then consider the fact that he’s only 24 years old and that he’s only going to get better: now that’s scary.

Jones sent a message to everyone at 205 at UFC 135 that he means business and that he’s way ahead of the pack at just 24 years of age. The question on everybody’s mind now is “who can dethrone Jon Jones?”

The first candidate would obviously be “Suga” Rashad Evans. The number 1 contender and former-champ appears to have the tools to dismantle the current LHW champ. Rashad is fast, has versatile striking, and has a very sound all-around game. Unlike anyone Bones has ever fought (unlike anyone in 205 actually), Rashad has great footwork and is constantly moving around the octagon, making him a very tough target to hit. He won’t just stand, trade and absorb shots with Bones, like Rampage and Shogun did; he’ll keep moving and keep Bones guessing. The game plans of Rampage and Shogun were clear–keep the fight standing–but with Evans, Jones will have to worry about both striking and take downs. Rashad also has a black belt in BJJ and is a very dangerous guy in all areas of the game. Rashad is definitely a threat, but he will definitely have trouble dealing with Jones’ reach. Rashad stands at 5 feet 11 inches and has a reach of 75 inches, which is an inch longer than Rampage’s reach, but no where near Jones’ 84.5 inch wingspan. Rashad will have to deal with the height of Jones and use his great head and foot movement to get inside to either crack Jones or take him down. However things play out, the bad blood between these two fighters and their technical fighting styles are sure to make this fight a really exciting one.

Another fighter that fans want to see face Mr. Jones is the former-champ Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Machida is very elusive and could give Jones problems when it comes to landing a strike or initiating the clinch. Machida is difficult to take down and is great at avoiding damage then jumping in to land hard and accurate strikes. This may make Jones reluctant to attack, but then again, Jones seems smart enough to work his away around Machida’s tricks. Unfortunately, having lost to Rampage at UFC 123, who recently lost to Jones, Machida may have to wait a bit longer and win a few more big fights before getting a title shot. Nonetheless, I personally would love to see this fight given the creative striking that both these fighters possess.

One fighter that Machida is rumored to compete with next is one fighter that would pose a unique problem to current champ, Jon Jones: that fighter being young wrestler, Phil Davis. “Mr. Wonderful”, as he is called, is a great wrestler and has won many fights using very creative submissions. As a highly decorated collegiate wrestler, Davis is very difficult to take down or control, which would nullify at least one of Jones’ attacks. Like Jones, Davis is very young and has a long and bright future in MMA. He is also very strong and very explosive, both of which will come in handy when dealing with Jones’ size. Davis though doesn’t nearly have the striking to match that of the current champ’s and clearly needs to improve in that aspect if he wants to have a better chance at winning the belt. Either way, I think it would be interesting to see a similarly young fighter go after Jones, especially one who could out-wrestle, over-power, and maybe even submit the current champ.

Anderson Silva is the one fighter that everybody wants to see challenge Jones. The two fighters have been compared before for their numerous similarities. Both are relatively tall for their division and both have great reach. Both men have accurate, creative, and unpredictable striking, as well as great submissions. And lastly, both fighters are very hard to hit, let alone defeat. Jones’ wrestling gives him a distinct advantage though, especially since Silva has experienced greater difficulty fighting wrestlers. But Anderson Silva is touted to be the pound-for-pound greatest MMA fighter today and if there is one fighter that could really give Jones a run for his money, it would be him.

Jon Jones’ dominance during UFC 135 sent a resounding message to all MMA fighters and fans that he is here to stay. The assumption that the man who could eventually defeat Jones is still in junior high school as of now is not such a far-fetched idea. Honestly, this is a breath of fresh air for some fans who have seen the LHW belt passed on from one champ to the next without successfully defending it. Hopefully, the light heavyweight division has found a dominant champ in Jones who will defend his belt at all cost. Whoever will beat Jones is anybody’s guess, but one thing is for certain: things just got more exciting in at 205.

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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