Since the announcement from the USADA that former Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is eligible to fight again on October 28th, 2018, the MMA world insists on finding his next opponent. Who is most likely to enter the octagon with one of the most talented fighters in the history of the division?
5. Anthony Smith
A newcomer to the division, Anthony Smith isn’t new to challenges coming in his direction. Smith should love the opportunity to challenge Jones and potentially knock out another former champion. He currently has a two-fight win streak with victories over Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua via knockout in under two minutes of the first round. He is scheduled for an upcoming bout against former title contender Volkan Oezedemir, but if the opportunity comes, a victory may catapult Smith up the UFC rankings.
4: Volkan Oezedemir
A former title contender in Volkan Oezedemir who, despite coming off a loss against the champion Daniel Cormier, would be a huge fight for Jones. He has impressed the UFC with his recent performances against fighters such as Jimi Manuwa, Misha Cirkunov, and Ovince Saint Preux which have all ended with Oezedemir as the winner. A match-up between Oezedemir and Jones would be a battle of a young and promising fighter against someone who once was and could be the king of the division again. This could be a possibility and a fight that the UFC wouldn’t hesitate to book.
3: Jan Blachowicz
Jan Blachowicz has had an amazing streak as of late with victories over Devin Clark, Jared Cannonier, Manuwa and recently Nikita Krylov. To make a statement and prove that you deserve to fight the best that the UFC has to offer, you have to prove it. Blachowicz has done that without a doubt, recently calling out Cormier for a future Light Heavyweight title fight. Due to speculation that Cormier may be staying at the Heavyweight division, however, Blachowicz may need to wait. What better way of making a statement than by being the first man to take on the returning Jones? A possible victory would put Blachowicz in the position he has worked hard to get to for the title that everyone is fighting to get a shot at and you can’t count it out of actually happening.
2: Alexander Gustaffson
If you watched the first fight between Gustaffson and Jones, then you know a rematch is something that has been asked about for a long time. Gustaffson is currently ranked at #1 in the light heavyweight division and despite asking for another shot at the title, he hasn’t received it and it’s become frustrating. Gustaffson has had two shots at the title and despite being close to capturing gold, he hasn’t been able to do so. It shouldn’t take him out of the conversation of him deserving one after his recent wins over Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira. Rumor has it that the UFC is close to booking Jones VS Gustaffson in a rematch for UFC 232. If an interim title is on the line, then it becomes big for both men who would never deny the opportunity and it would be without a doubt that this fight gets booked sooner rather than never.
1: Daniel Cormier
The rivalry between Jones and Cormier has been something that the UFC has been able to witness from trash talk to the octagon to controversial moments and the question that comes to mind is, will it ever end? To talk about what has happened between these two would take more than a day to explain but in a short story, despite successfully defending the title against Cormier at UFC 182, Jones was stripped of the title and Cormier would win it. Jones returned and despite beating Saint Preux for the interim belt, he was suspended for a failed drug test and suspended for a year. Jones would once again return and despite defeating Cormier, he would be stripped for the third time in a row and here we are now. Cormier is currently the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion, so he must deal with who he gets booked to fight him before his retirement in March. Jones has the possibility of fighting the recently four named fighters before a rematch with Cormier gets booked again. The bad blood has been able to create history in the UFC and for Cormier and Jones. But the question remains if Cormier and Jones were to ever fight again, who would be the true victor and will we ever see the finale to a rivalry that may never end? That’s why a trilogy fight may have to happen before Cormier officially retires.
Photo credit: Sherdog.