After Jon Jones’ impressive display at UFC 128 in claiming the Light-Heavyweight title with a dominating victory over Mauricio Rua, some are already hailing him as the future of the division.
Even Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva speculates that he will hold the title for a long time to come.
Despite the UFC’s assertions, there is already talk among fans about setting up “Superfights” with fighters in other divisions, as commentators are already assuming that there will be no one else in the Light Heavyweight division who will be able to challenge the new champ.
But hold on just a minute.
Jones has long been an impressive prospect, with good wins over decent quality opposition on his way to the title shot, but now the hyperbole seems to have been predicated on one match in which he was much more athletic and creative than his opponent.
Even if Dana White claims that Jones is “a mile ahead of everybody”, based on Saturday night’s performance, we’ve yet to see how well Jones’ chin will stand up to someone who is able to catch him with a good shot.
And, as Dan Hardy found out, it only takes one good shot to end a fight if you get caught on the counter unexpectedly.
“Shogun” was definitely outclassed in their title bout. We don’t know yet whether it was Jones' true superiority or if Rua had an off-day, especially considering Rua had a long hiatus as he recovered from injury and despite his assertions that he would not be affected by either. Conversely, Jones fought as recently as February to set up this showdown.
We need to see what Jones can do against other high-class opponents in the light heavyweight division before we start positioning for fantasy fights against Anderson Silva or against the best of the heavyweights.
Silva is right to play down talk of such a fight.
Jones might claim to be Alistair Overeem but better, but he’s still a long way from backing that up with a career that joins the best in the business.
So far, his opponents have included some good fighters (Bonnar, Matyushenko, Hamill, Bader, Vera and Rua) but we haven’t seen him take on Evans yet—assuming the fight does eventually take place—nor some of the masters at that weight class: the likes of Randy Couture, “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida.
There are others coming up through the ranks, too, who will want their shot at Jones and will expect to win.
Phil Davis might be biding his time for now, but could be a sleeper for the future, win or lose against Antonio Rogerio Nogueiro this weekend.
Former champion Forrest Griffin isn’t done yet, and might fancy his chances of using his reach to keep Jones pushed back.
Given the recent acquisition of Strikeforce, there might also be a match-up with Dan Henderson down the road, so the light heavyweights are far from a beaten bunch as far as Jon Jones is concerned.
That’s not to say that “Bones” does not have the potential to meet and defeat all these opponents.
He does, but at the moment that is all just potential, and one—admittedly very good—performance against “Shogun” to win the title doesn’t automatically mean Jones will be able to dominate other light heavyweights in similar fashion.
For the time being, fantasy fights outside the division should be considered just that: Fantasy. There is still work to do before that even becomes an issue for Jon Jones.
Jumping on the Jon Jones bandwagon right now looks like an excellent move. His display at UFC 128 showed everyone what he can do. But beware of making assumptions that he is the be-all-and-end-all of life at Light-Heavyweight.