Jon Jones: Power Ranking the Top 5 UFC Fighters Who Could Topple Bones Jones
UFC 133 was originally supposed to include a main event pitting UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and his former friend and training partner Rashad Evans.
But with an injury to Jones, the fight quickly turned to Evans vs. up-and-coming light heavyweight Phil Davis.
But then Phil Davis got hurt himself, leaving a potentially entertaining but some would say irrelevant fight between Evans and fellow former 205-pound champ Tito Ortiz.
To make matters worse for Rashad, it was also announced that Jon Jones’ injury wasn’t as bad as originally suspected and that he will now defend his title against a man Evans defeated in his last fight, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
The controversy continues to build as the foggy light heavyweight title picture just gets more and more complicated with every injury, disappointing performance or surprise upset.
So which fighter actually has the best chance of knocking off the (realistically) undefeated 24-year-old? Can his weaknesses be exploited or is he poised to become the next long-term UFC champion like Georges St-Pierre or Anderson Silva?
Read on as we examine the top five fighters who could topple Jon “Bones” Jones.
5. Phil Davis
UFC Record: 5-0
As the only undefeated fighter on this list, Phil Davis is also the youngest guy who realistically has a shot of beating Jon Jones in the near future.
A former four-time NCAA Division-I All American, Davis’ wrestling pedigree is absolutely undeniable. He has completely dominated every opponent he has faced in the wrestling department and has been improving the other aspects of his game with every fight.
While many of the other fighters on this list have peaked, Davis still has a lot to learn and could realistically be fighting for another couple of years before we see the best Phil Davis.
Of course, by then, he may also be holding the UFC light heavyweight title.
4. Rampage Jackson
UFC Record: 7-2
When Jon Jones defends his title for the first time, it will not be against the opponent whom he was originally supposed to fight, Rashad Evans.
Instead, it will be against the man Rashad most recently fought and defeated, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Jackson himself is a former UFC light heavyweight champion and was once considered the unquestioned top 205-pound fighter in the world after his back-to-back victories over Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson.
But since he lost his title to Forrest Griffin back in July 2008, it just doesn’t seem like we have seen quite the same guy in the cage.
Still, Rampage is one of the most talented fighters the sport has ever seen, and if he can get himself into peak condition, he could pose an interesting challenge for the still relatively inexperienced Jon Jones when the two warriors do battle at UFC 135.
If Jackson is able to catch Jones with a few punches, it will be interesting to see how the 24-year-old responds.
Does he have the chin to withstand the punching power that has knocked out Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell? Or will Jones be the next in the long line of recent UFC light heavyweight champions to quickly relinquish his title?
3. Anderson Silva
UFC Record: 13-0
When it comes to overall skills, there may not be a better fighter on the planet right now than the UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva.
At 13-0 in the Octagon, Silva has been a nightmare for his opponents and has been considered one of the top two fighters on the planet for nearly five years running. The seemingly effortless domination he has enjoyed over the middleweight division is nothing short of extraordinary and he is an obvious choice as a future UFC Hall of Famer.
At this point, it might not be whether Silva is the best 185-pound fighter in the world, but he may very well also be the best 205-pound fighter in the world as well.
Given the lack of competition that the UFC has been able to feed him at points throughout his championship run, Silva has moved up twice to the higher weight class where he punished James Irvin.
Then just over a year later, he completely humiliated former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
Silva has stated in the past that he doesn’t want to fight for the light heavyweight championship because he views the division as Lyoto Machida’s.
But if Machida gets his shot and is unable to win the title back, we may eventually see “The Spider” back up at 205, fighting in a dream bout against Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title.
2. Lyoto Machida
UFC Record: 9-2
As Anderson Silva has said, according to Black House, the light heavyweight division is supposed to be Lyoto Machida’s to control. But after his loss to Shogun Rua at UFC 113 and a subsequent loss to Rampage Jackson at UFC 123, Machida had slipped down the rankings, even out of the top five by some sources.
That is, until his monumental victory over Randy Couture at UFC 129 in April.
When Machida landed the Crane kick that he learned from Steven Seagal, suddenly the MMA community fell back in love with “The Dragon.” Once again, it was cool to like Lyoto Machida.
But perhaps more importantly, he was back in the title hunt.
As perhaps the most gifted karate expert to ever compete in the Octagon, Machida has a style that is almost impossible to emulate in training. As such, we have seen him completely demolish opponents who have looked completely baffled at how they should go about attacking him.
Top tier competitors like Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva, who have dominated just about everyone they’ve fought in the Octagon, were left unconscious in an almost comical fashion.
Could Machida do the same to Jon Jones? It remains to be seen, but he has just about as good of a chance as anyone.
1. Rashad Evans
UFC Record: 10-1-1
The top choice on this list might get some heat, especially given that we haven’t seen him in the cage in well over a year, but Rashad Evans should be considered the favorite when it comes to picking a fighter who has the best chance against Jon Jones.
Evans has compiled a 15-1-1 career MMA record which includes victories over Chuck Liddell, Michael Bisping, Thiago Silva, Forrest Griffin and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Not only that, but he has a chance to avenge one the only draw on his record when he fights Tito Ortiz next Saturday night at UFC 133.
To say that he has fought the best of the best is an understatement, especially given the fact that he was a heavyweight when he made his debut for the UFC back in 2005.
But not only is Evans’ résumé excellent, he also has an advantage that no one else on this list has, as he is a former training partner of Jones’ at Jackson’s Submission Fighting.
If anyone knows what Jones’ weaknesses are, it’s going to be Rashad. And he’s smart enough and talented enough to exploit them, whatever they are.
Evans was originally set to fight Jones at UFC 133, but Jones had to drop out of the fight to have thumb surgery, and was later replaced by Phil Davis (who was then replaced by Tito Ortiz).
While the injury is not really debatable, Evans isn’t buying the fact that Jones then decided not to have the surgery after he was replaced on the card.
"That's not something that just happens. He knew what he was doing,” Evans explained on Fight Week. “I see right through that kid. He knows I see him. I know all his weaknesses, and I know how to capitalize on those weaknesses. I only need to know one thing about that dude: he will quit. My technique could be total sh*t, trash. But I know one thing: I can make him quit. And he will quit."
Evans is expected to get the next title shot if he wins the fight against Ortiz next weekend. Then it will finally be time to see who can back up their talk and who is just spewing out nonsense.
Either way, we all win.