For a long while now, the UFC's light heavyweight division has been painfully short on contenders for Jon Jones.
We keep seeing it with how they keep hurriedly propping up fighters as top contenders with no winning streaks to speak of and, in many cases, losses to the champion already on their record.
Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua were both a “yes” away from fighting Jon Jones at UFC 152, and that alone speaks to how bad 205 lbs has been over the last few years.
Right now, though, there is a legitimate top contender...or at least, legitimate enough.
The contender, obviously, is Alexander Gustafsson. The Swede has a six-fight winning streak, but that's where his worthiness for a title shot ends.
His six fights came against generally sub-par opponents. Granted, his most recent win was over the aforementioned “Shogun,” but that fight was moreso defined by the Pride vet's lack of cardio than anything put forward by Gustafsson.
Past Rua, the next best opponent Gustafsson beat would probably be Matt Hamill. Add to that the fact that he was handily deconstructed on the ground by Phil Davis (whose grappling still doesn't touch Jones'), and the fact Gustafsson really just doesn't have anything to threaten Jones and the result is something that wouldn't fly as a legitimate contender in most other divisions.
Still, Jones needs to fight somebody. What's more, Jones actually wants to fight Gustafsson (though for stupid reasons). That, more than anything, is why Jones' next fight at 205 lbs will almost certainly be against Gustafsson.
Now, you might be thinking “oh, what about Lyoto Machida?” Basically, Machida finds himself in the same spot Chris Weidman found himself just a few months ago...but even worse, given the fact that he already owns a loss from Jones.
A rematch with “The Dragon” likely wouldn't draw many more buys than a fight with Gustafsson, and Machida is far more stylistically troublesome than Gustafsson.
In spite of the fact that Dana White was actively pitching Machida vs. Dan Henderson (who famously didn't fight Jones at UFC 151) as a top contender's fight, it is very possible that Jones vs. Machida 2 won't come to fruition for a while yet.
You might now be thinking “well, what about Daniel Cormier?” What about Cormier, indeed. The thing to keep in mind when it comes to Cormier is that people are most interested in that fight because he is the most likely to dethrone the champ.
Cormier, like Weidman and Machida, is not known broadly enough to out-draw Gustafsson by any serious margin.
With two threatening opponents, it would be foolish for Jones to not try and push for a fight with Gustafsson next. Unless, of course, there was a threatening opponent that offered huge buyrate potential for Jones.
Enter Anderson Silva. Jones has had a sudden flip-flop on the subject fighting Anderson Silva (he famously shot down the idea last year). That fight, in all likelihood, would be the most lucrative option available for Jones, and he would likely open the favorite in the fight, given his size and wrestling background.
This, of course, is assuming that Silva beats Chris Weidman at UFC 162.
Ultimately, though, Silva and Gustafsson are the two fighters that are most certainly on Jon Jones' plate right now. Keep checking in with Bleacher Report for news on how this shakes out.
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