UFC 145 Results: 5 Fighters Who Pose a Legitimate Threat to Jon Jones
UFC 145 was a night that fight fans will point to for years when discussing the legacy of Jon Jones. The 24-year-old "Bones" was able to dominate Rashad Evans for a full five rounds, while avoiding any major damage in the process.
Now that Jones has defeated all of the top UFC light heavyweights, we are forced to turn to Strikeforce, different weight classes and young prospects in order to find a challenge for our reigning champion.
Here is a look at the top threats to Jon Jones.
Last night, Dana White announced at the post-fight press conference that the next man in line for a crack at Jon Jones is multi-division fighter Dan Henderson.
The last Strikeforce light heavyweight champion moved back into the UFC roster last fall when he defeated Shogun Rua in a fight that White called one of the top three fights in MMA history.
Hendo has dynamite in his hands, and has never been knocked out in his entire career. In addition, the only men to submit former Pride champion are Black House fighters Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers.
At the moment, Henderson is the last fighter that fans believe has a legitimate shot against Jonny Bones. If Hendo finds himself unsuccessful, we've got to get creative in finding a worthy challenger.
Undeniable threat? You'd better believe it!
Jones was asked if he would be willing to one day fight Anderson Silva. The young champion respectfully admitted that it is a fight that interests him.
The greatest fighter in MMA history has reigned over the UFC middleweight division for more than five years and is undefeated through 14 UFC contests, which includes nine successful title defenses.
Silva may be the only man to rival Jones when it comes to striking creativity and overall dominance. Silva has twice stepped into the light heavyweight division, scoring a first-round knockout both times.
Silva could retire immediately after his fight with Chael Sonnen and claim that he has nothing left to prove. If that happens, he will go down as the greatest of all time.
However, with Jones as the only man who may also have a claim to that title, the contest could interest The Spider for the sake of his own legacy.
MMA Record: 32-3-2
Notable Wins: Mark Hunt, Hector Lombard, Babalu Sobral, Jacare Souza, Sokoudjou
Championships: Strikeforce Light-Heavyweight, DREAM Light-Heavyweight, 2008 DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix Winner, 2010 DREAM Light-Heavyweight Grand Prix Winner
Gegard Mousasi is the best light heavyweight who is not currently signed to a UFC contract. While a 2010 bout with Muhammed Lawal showed that his takedown defense left something to be desired, Mousasi displayed how greatly he had improved his defensive wrestling in a bout with rising prospect Ovince St. Preux.
Mousasi has earned stoppages in 28 of his 32 wins and could pose a threat no matter where the bout goes.
Fresh off of his win over Thiago Silva, MMA fans have thrust Gustafsson's name into conversations regarding title contention. For that reason only, I have included him as part of this list.
Gustafsson, standing 6'5, is slightly taller than Jones but his reach of 76.5" falls short when compared to the 84.5" reach of Jones.
With Jones possessing an 8" advantage in reach, superior wrestling and a considerable advantage in experience against elite fighters, there isn't any aspect of this fight that I believe would go in favor of The Mauler.
In an interview last Fall, Strikeforce heavyweight Daniel Cormier stated that he would drop down to light-heavyweight before ever fighting his training partner Cain Velasquez.
If Cormier accepts the notion that fighting at light heavyweight is an option, then we must consider the kind of damage he can do in the division. While Cormier doesn't have a lot of big fight experience, his wrestling credentials make him a threat to anyone.
Keep in mind that Cormier was the team captain for the U.S. Olympic wrestling team and showed greatly improved standup in his bouts with Jeff Monson and Bigfoot Silva. Cormier also displayed his incredible power when he separated Bigfoot from consciousness in the first round of their Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix bout.
If Cormier can defeat Josh Barnett next month and is willing to drop to 205 in order to get a title shot, he would be an excellent candidate, and arguably the only man who can take down and control Jones on the ground.