UFC 135 Results: Where Does Jon Jones Go From Here?
With UFC 135 in the books, we now look ahead to the future.
Jon "Bones" Jones simply outclassed Rampage Jackson in his first defense of the UFC light heavyweight title, as he won by rear naked choke in the fourth round. The dismantling was not as bad as the destruction of Shogun Rua, but it once again showed just how good Jones is.
The light heavyweight division has been one of the most competitive for years. We have been waiting for that one fighter that can take control of the division like Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva have in theirs.
Whether or not Jones is that fighter has yet to be seen, but the future looks bright.
Here is a list of fighters that could lead to Jon Jones cementing his legacy as one of the best in the world.
This is the next obvious step for Jon Jones.
The former training partners have been going back and forth since Jones took Evans' title shot against Shogun Rua after Evans was injured.
Jones went on to become champion and Evans went on to leave Greg Jackson's training camp.
The trash talk began heating up once Evans was announced as the next challenger. They were set to fight until Jones pulled out of the fight with a hand injury.
Evans went on to defeat Tito Ortiz and we know that Jones went on to defeat Rampage Jackson.
Now this match needs to come next.
Evans claims he often got the better of Jones during training. He appears more than confident that he can be the one to stop Jones' run as light heavyweight champion.
Since the title shot that eventually led to Jones current reign as champion was originally Evans, it only makes sense that the next fight should be the one that settles the bad blood.
Winner of Shogun vs. Henderson
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson and former UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua agreed to meet at UFC 139.
The two Pride veterans will square off in a match that fans have been waiting to see for a long time. This match will surely lead to the next contender for the UFC light heavyweight championship.
Rua is coming off a dominating win over Forrest Griffin at UFC 134. Rua looked more than ready to get back in to contention.
Henderson is coming off a win over Fedor Emelianenko in July. That was "Hendo's" third straight victory.
His return to the UFC against Rua could lead to his first shot at the UFC light heavyweight title since 2006 when he lost to Rampage Jackson by decision.
Either fighter would be a worthy contender for Jon Jones. Both men have fantastic resumes that would only bolster Jones' already stellar list of victories.
I'm not sure either fighter would have a great amount of success against "Bones," but it is another fight that needs to happen.
Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida has been working to climb back up the ranks of the light heavyweight division after suffering two straight losses.
Machida bounced back with a highlight reel knockout over Randy Couture at UFC 129. However, it was still Couture, who is well past his prime and promptly retired after the fight.
Machida has been inactive for quite some time and hasn't even had his next match set yet.
However, it is likely he will be matched up with a new opponent soon as to get him back in to the mix for the title.
If Jones was able to get through Evans and the winner of Shogun vs. Henderson, Machida would be the next challenger, assuming he continues to win.
It is likely that he could have two fights by the time that those matches are completed depending on injuries. Regardless, Machida is a big enough talent that he will likely get a shot at Jones if no one else can get it done.
Stylistically it is a fascinating matchup. Jones' unorthodox striking and huge reach matched up against Machida's counter Karate style.
Assuming Jones gets through all three of these challenges, he is well on his way to greatness.
The rise of Phil Davis was overshadowed by the potential of Jon Jones and Ryan Bader.
This was until Jones dismantled Bader and became the clear-cut "next big thing" of the light heavyweight division.
Davis was able to pick up an impressive victory over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira this past March. He used his wrestling ability to control Nogueira and extend his undefeated streak to nine.
Due to the heavy amount of competition in the light heavyweight division, Davis will need to wait his turn. He is still a relatively raw prospect that could use a few more fights to prove he is ready for the elites of the division.
It makes the most sense that he could be the next rising star to challenge Jones somewhere down the line.
He is a former D-1 collegiate wrestler who is still developing striking and submission skills. If he can sharpen those talents, he will most likely be a No. 1 contender some day.
There would be no better way for Jones to establish his dominance in the division than by squashing the fighter who is suppose to surpass him.
This dream matchup may be just that. A dream.
However, if Anderson Silva is still fighting in a few years and Jones hypothetically follows the path I've laid out in this article, this is the fight that makes the most sense.
Silva is the consensus pound-for-pound champion in MMA today.
There is no need to rattle off the accolades and abilities of Silva because it is simply understood that he is currently the most dangerous man in MMA.
A run of five title defenses for Jones at light heavyweight would be an incredible feat. He would unquestionably be in the conversation for pound-for-pound champion.
Who better to match him up with?
Silva has shown he can be more than competitive at light heavyweight. Fans are already clamoring for him to take on UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre or move up to light heavyweight.
I agree that Jones still has a very long road ahead of him before we start comparing him to Silva. Yet, he has given us no reason to doubt his potential.
A Jones vs. Silva fight in three or four years, assuming Jones or Silva doesn't lose in between, could go down as the biggest fight in MMA history.