Jon Jones Must Look to Expand Greatness Beyond Light Heavyweight Division

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2013

Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Jon Jones (black shorts) celebrates defeating Chael Sonnen (white shorts) during UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven't heard by now, Jon Jones is a freak of nature.

His unique blend of size, athleticism and fight I.Q. are unlike anything that MMA has ever seen. There's an argument to be made that he is already the greatest athlete to step inside the Octagon.

At 25 years old, he's accomplished just about as much as anyone else in the sport. Only names like Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva can claim that they've been as dominant and both of them have been at the whole "domination" thing for a lot longer.

However, Jones can transcend even what they've done by setting his sights outside of his weight class.

For all of the praise and recognition that fighters like GSP and Silva have garnered, they all did their damage inside of their weight classes. Sure, Silva has fought up a weight class on occasion. But wins over the likes of Stephan Bonnar, Forrest Griffin and James Irvin don't do much to enhance a fighter's legacy.

Randy Couture found success in two weight classes. He won the heavyweight championship and light heavyweight championship multiple times in his career. However, his 19-11 record shows that he was far from the dominance that Jones has displayed.

With the light heavyweight division nearly cleared out, the time is drawing near when Jones should begin to look outside of his weight class for challenges.

The most obvious challenge is a superfight with his rival for the sport's top pound-for-pound spot—Anderson Silva.

The Spider has fought at 205 pounds before, he didn't appear to lose any of his lightning-quick counter-striking ability. Jones could put an end to the debate once and for all by taking down the legend in an actual fight.

However, as great as that fight would be, the most intriguing option for Jones is a long-term move to the heavyweight division. Jones has talked about the possibility for a long time and has even said that it's possible he makes the move by late 2013.

The knock from critics of Jones—as far as his actual skills go—has always been that his incredible reach advantage is what makes him a great fighter. By going to the heavyweight division, he would get the chance to address that critique.

His reach advantage would still exist. He has the longest reach in the sport at 84.5 inches. But going against someone like Junior dos Santos, his reach advantage would be neutralized by dos Santos' pure size.

These are the challenges that the fans would love to see Jones take on next.

Jones could spend the next few years dominating the light heavyweight division. There are worthy contenders that could make things interesting for him, and he would sell plenty of pay-per-views. But we've seen that already.

Jones has the opportunity to be the most dominant fighter of all-time. By leaving his division to take on the best challengers that the sport has to offer regardless of weight class, he can create a legacy that no one has been able to match.