UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey marked the beginning of Jon "Bones" Jones reign as UFC light heavyweight champion.
The decimation of former UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by "Bones" was a vision of stand-up brilliance. Incorporating a variety of strikes from various angles and planes by Jones led to a third round TKO of Rua.
Now, with Jones as champion, UFC match maker Joe Silva is responsible for Jones' opponents in the upcoming months.
Assuming Joe Silva's role, I have created a hypothetical list of Jon Jones next five opponents. This list is based on a number of large assumptions. First, the order of the list is predicated on Jon Jones remaining undefeated and defending his UFC title.
Secondly, my list assumes that Jones' opponents also remain undefeated and are willing to accept a fight with the current light heavyweight champion.
The last assumption I have made is that I share in the same thought processes of Joe Silva with respect to whom he feels would be the greatest match-up for Jones and for the business of the UFC.
All three assumptions are very big, yet I feel confident in how these next five fights will play out. Jon Jones is the next evolution of mixed martial arts and his talents and abilities will continue to grow and flourish in the UFC. Please follow along and assume Joe Silva's role with me.
I welcome your comments.
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Prior to Jones' championship fight at UFC 128, Greg Jackson invited the No. 1 contender to the Jackson Camp, much to the chagrin of Rashad Evans, who felt disrespected by the invite.
On Yahoo.com, Evans stated his displeasure by saying, "I feel disrespected by Jon because when I think about when we trained or when we were chilling, was the (expletive) even real? Or was he just trying to be a master manipulator and try to manipulate the situation so he could get what he wanted out of it?"
When this fight does occur, both Evans and Jones possess tremendous quickness and foot speed. Both fighters also have excellent wrestling pedigrees to anchor their overall fight game.
The advantage for the current light heavyweight champion is in Jon Jones' reach and diversified offense. Non-traditional strikes by Bones, coupled with his explosive ground and pound in Evans' guard, will lead to a TKO victory for Jon Jones.
A fight with much anticipated hype and talk, this match-up between former teammates will will solidify the top 205 pound fighter from Greg Jackson's camp.
Currently the No.3 light heavyweight fighter in the world by Sherdog and Yahoo Sports, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has a combined MMA record of 31-8, with 14 knockouts.
With almost three times as many fights as Jon Jones, Jackson is much more experienced inside the Octagon.
A boxer and wrestler who rose to fame in the Pride Fighting Championships, Jackson's style as a mixed martial artist has remained consistent since his professional debut in 1999.
A very tough fighter with a solid chin who has lost only three career fights by knockout, "Rampage" has the ability to stand and trade with most any opponent in the center of the Octagon.
Scheduled to challenge Matt Hamill at UFC 130 on May 28th, a match-up with Jones could occur in the fall of 2011.
Stylistically opposite, Jackson is a north-south fighter with limited movement which minimizes his ability to utilize angles to deliver his strikes more effectively.
On the contrary, Jones is known for his foot work which opens up a variety of striking angles and the opportunity to deliver tactical, powerful strikes.
Both fighters possess excellent wrestling backgrounds. Jones' explosiveness in the guard will cause problems for Jackson, who is limited in his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.
The athleticism of Jon Jones will wear down the suspect conditioning of Quinton Jackson. A relentless pace exacted by the champ will keep "Rampage" off balance, ultimately awarding Bones with a victory.
Potentially a wild card in the Jon Jones reign as champion is the undefeated "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis.
A very creative fighter inside the Octagon, Davis submitted Tim Boetsch with his version of a kimura at UFC 123, earning Submission of the Night honors.
A tremendous collegiate wrestler, Davis's grappling skills will match up well versus Jon Jones.
Additionally, at 6'2" with a reach of 79", Davis will not suffer much of a size disadvantage against the champion.
Taking elite striker Brian Stann the distance in his UFC debut, "Mr. Wonderful" has a solid stand-up game to challenge the excellent striking of Bones.
Truly a match-up for the ages, I provide Jon Jones a slight advantage overall against Phil Davis due to Jones's level of high quality opponents already faced. Phil Davis lacks in the overall experience.
Scheduled to challenge Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on March 26, 2011, a victory for Phil Davis against the seasoned veteran Nogueira will place "Mr. Wonderful" in line for a title shot early in 2012.
Stylistically similar to the champion, the former UFC light heavyweight title holder, Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida may present a difficult challenge for Jon Jones.
Known for his elusiveness, Machida utilizes his tremendous foot speed and graceful movement to minimize damage inside the cage.
Additionally, his arsenal of varied strikes allows his offense to be his best defense as he keeps his opponents at bay and unsure of his next attack.
With two straight losses to Quinton Jackson and Mauricio Rua, "The Dragon" will be motivated for a victory against UFC hall of fame fighter Randy Couture on April 30th.
An experienced fighter with an 8-2 record in the UFC, Jon Jones will need to solidify a sound fight plan to retain his belt against Machida.
Striking from the outside and delivering tactical power shots as well as taking this contest to the ground will be Jones' keys to victory.
Look for this monumental match-up to occur in the summer of 2012.
During the latter months of 2011, Dana White has confirmed that a superfight between the current UFC welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, and the current UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, will take place.
Regardless of the victor, and assuming both Jon Jones and Anderson Silva remain undefeated in their current match-ups, a superfight between these two MMA superstars will occur during the year's end of 2012.
This epic battle will determine the sport's greatest striker.
Both are creative offensively. Bones' spinning back elbow and suplays are moves typically executed on XBox.
Not to be outdone, the flurry of punches, knees and elbows from the clinch or unorthodox kicks—such as the front kick that knocked out Vitor Belfort at UFC 126—provide footage for a legendary highlight reel for Anderson Silva.
Both are extremely long in stature and utilize their reach effectively. Additionally, both champions move with the grace and balance of a ballet dancer.
On the ground, Anderson Silva has had trouble with strong, physical wrestlers. His wild card is his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira from Black House in Brazil.
Securing a triangle arm bar submission on Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 and a rear-naked-choke tapout victory of Dan Henderson at UFC 82 illustrate his jiu-jitsu knowledge.
Whereas Silva utilizes his jiu-jitsu to lock up submission wins, Jon Jones would rather break bones with his savage ground and pound from his ground attack.
Lethal from the guard with devastatingly explosive elbows, Bones' ability to inflict severe damage on the ground is a fight changer.
A fight of this magnitude will shatter pay-per-view buy records. The world's No. 1 pound-for-pound title will be awarded to the winner and the victor's stock will skyrocket exponentially.
Truly a once in a lifetime fight between two of the best fighters at the top of their respective games.
I look forward to this Superfight to cap off a wonderful 2012 in mixed martial arts.