UFC 126: Reasons Why Anderson Silva and Jon Jones Could Move Up In Division
Two men preparing for UFC 126 this Saturday at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas have something in common. These men go by the names of Anderson Silva and Jon Jones.
Silva is the UFC middleweight champion and has been for quite some time. He will be defending his title against fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort. Jon Jones is one of the brightest stars in the light heavyweight division along with his opponent this Saturday, Ryan Bader.
These guys aren’t mirror images of each other—Silva is on the back end of his career and Jones is just getting started; Silva uses his striking to finish off opponents and Jones utilizes exciting wrestling and explosive ground and pound.
The one similarity that these two men do share is the idea that either man could move up in weight.
Many people feel that Silva could make a successful run at the light heavyweight title and many feel as if Jones could make a run in the heavyweight division. Let’s have a look at what would allow these two fighters to be successful up a weight class.
Body Composition and Build Are Key
Although Jones and Silva fight in different weight classes, both have the kind of body type that lends itself to moving up and down in weight.
Both Jones and Silva have long, lean builds—that gives them a long reach and a bone structure that can carry some extra weight.
In fact, it is widely known that both Silva and Jones have to make quite the cut in order to make their division. It has been rumoured that Silva walks around somewhere close to 220 pounds and Jones is somewhere around 230.
I would compare their builds to a fighter like Brandon Vera who also has the long lean frame and has competed at both light heavyweight and heavyweight in the past. Although Vera has struggled of late, there was a time where he was seen as having the potential to hold both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles.
Silva and Jones’ body type alone is a great reason as to why they could move up in weight class.
Previous Success In Another Weight Class
This isn’t the case for Jon Jones just yet, but Anderson Silva has shown success at light heavyweight in the past.
Silva has fought twice in the UFC’s light heavyweight division and his record stands at 2-0 in the division.
Not only is Silva 2-0 at light heavyweight, he dominated his opponents with two first-round knockouts. His first opponent was James Irvin and his second opponent was former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
Silva made Griffin look more like a chump than champ when they fought as Griffin was sent running out of the cage after a humiliating destruction.
Silva has had success before at light heavyweight, so why not continue that success?
Success In One Division, Why Not In Two?
Anderson Silva has had one of the most dominant runs of title defences in professional mixed martial arts. Silva has taken down all comers since coming to the UFC and, aside from his upcoming fight with Vitor Belfort and a possible super fight with Georges St-Pierre there, isn’t much left for the current middleweight champion.
A move up in weight class would provide a great challenge for Silva against guys who are part of the deepest division in MMA. Who knows, if Silva were to move up we may see him and Jones get it on in the octagon at some point.
Anderson Silva’s training partner and friend Lyoto Machida is out of the title picture for now after dropping two consecutive fights, so there really isn't any reason Silva wouldn’t be able to move up after cleaning out the middleweights.
Interesting challenges for Silva lie in fights with guys like Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua, Ryan Bader, Jon Jones and Quinton Jackson, to name a few.
If Silva decides to move up, the only guy I would feel bad for is Rich Franklin, as Rich left middleweight solely to escape Silva’s web.
It Is In The Genes
Genetics has a lot to do with being able to move around from weight class to weight class and this is the case for Jon Jones.
We’ve already talked about the body types Jon Jones and Anderson Silva possess. Not only does Jones have a frame that could move up in weight, but it is also evident in his family background.
Jon Jones has two older brothers; one is a defensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, while the other is nose tackle for the Syracuse Orange.
Jones has a frame similar to that of his brothers’— he just hasn’t filled it out yet.
It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think that Jones could one day compete in the 265-pound division. Just look at Alistair Overeem, a man with a very similar build to "Bones" Jones.
Cementing a Legacy
Whether one is building up a career in the sport of MMA like Mr. Jones or on the back stretch like Anderson Silva, one of the most important goals for most fighters is creating a legacy.
Obviously Silva’s domination of the middleweight division has cemented his legacy in MMA, however, capturing titles in two different divisions really gives a fighter a claim to legendary status.
Winning titles in multiple divisions also solidifies a fighter's status on the pound for pound rankings, as the pound for pound ranking become a reality as opposed to a projection.
Jon Jones shows flashes of greatness every time he steps in the ring and definitely has the potential to be one of the best the sport has seen—what better way to become the best than to take control of two divisions in the sport?
Jon Jones Himself Sees a Future At Heavyweight
“I just received a ton of questions asking about a possible move to heavyweight...I can see that happening in 2012...” were the words written down on Jones' twitter account in December 2010.
Unlike Silva, Jones really sees a future at heavyweight for himself and a change like that is definitely something that should come from within.
The Fans Would Like To See It
The No. 1 reason why Silva and Jones could move up is due to the fans.
The previous twitter quote from Jones shows us that he is being asked about his future weight class all the time. Anderson Silva has been asked to move up by the fans to fight for the title, especially once Mauricio Rua got a hold of it.
Fighting at different weight classes is something fans like to see.
Look at how many fans are calling out Georges St-Pierre to move up to middleweight and fight Anderson Silva. How many fans want to see Jose Aldo move up to lightweight?
It is a popular trend among fans and if a fighter is looking to become a legend and fan-favorite, fighting and winning in multiple weight classes is definitely a way to do that.
Leon Horne has been contributing to The Bleacher Report for two years now. He focuses mainly on mixed martial arts, but he has also written about tennis, football and hockey. Just send him a message if you want to talk sports or discuss any opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter for updates:
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