One cannot help but attribute the overeager and premature desire to see Jon Jones fighting heavyweights to a degree of malice. Jones has long been a source of irk for some members of the fan community, who sight, among other things, a certain disingenuousness to the champion's persona and his fast rise to the top.
What they fail to recognize, that fans will rarely see a phenom of this type, leads them headlong into the search for the fighter who can beat him, from whatever weight class they need. They plead with Anderson Silva to fight at 205 then make stern faced cases for Jones to rise to heavyweight, having defended his light heavyweight title for just the second time.
Here then are five reasons Jon Jones should stay at light heavyweight.
Very few men with an 84-inch reach will ever make the 205 lb. weight class. The upper hand Jones gets from a 10-inch reach advantage is huge. It gives him more time to react, forcing Jones’ foes to travel great distances to hit him. Jones’ reach makes him much more dangerous in stand-up, keeping his opponents far away.
Jones can literally hold most of his light heavyweight opponents by the head and allow them to swing at air, like a Saturday morning cartoon. His reach advantage over most of the top heavyweights sits around seven in many cases—like heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos—but slides to 3.5 against Brock Lesnar and 4.5 against Shane Carwin. He holds a 5.5 reach advantage over Frank Mir. These advantages, while significant, are exponentially less powerful than the reach advantage Jones enjoys at light heavyweight.
Again, very few men with Jones' frame are going to be able to comfortably fight at the 205 lb. ranks. In Jones’ case, it is unlikely he will be able to do it forever.
If a fighter can comfortably make weight, then it is likely that same fighter would suffer a significant weight disadvantage leaving light heavyweight with its bordering class having a weight cap fully 60 lbs heavier.
Jones, to be smart, would have to take time off from fighting and really pack on some weight, while spending more time training with bigger people. The resulting time off could affect his performance, and then there would be questions around his victory or defeat.
The day will come when Jones will be unable to make the 205 lb. cut. Until then, he should stay at lightweight.
Before Saturday night, punches thrown at Jones had not really connected, and although Jones has defended two of Ryan Bader’s shots, he still has much to prove in the wrestling department. Dan Henderson, currently ranked the No. 2 light heavyweight in the world by Fight Matrix, provides such a test. Preparation for a fight with Henderson will help to ready Jones for the transition into the murky depths of the NCAA infested waters of the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Additionally, Jones’ flashy stand-up style makes for exciting matchups against fighters like Machida and Rua, or Vera and Jackson.
Rua, Jackson, Machida: Jones has already bested some of the light heavyweight division’s best. At light heavyweight, he is just four wins from becoming the most dominant light heavyweight champion in the organization's history. Considering who he has already beaten and how, leaves one with the impression Jones could do it.
He still needs to face Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans and Phil Davis. Preparation for these fights would help him lock in the things he would need to face Anderson Silva, the final person Jones must fight before heading off to a heavier class.
Jones fought four times this year, and Anderson seems to have no legitimate threat at middleweight other than Chael Sonnen or Dan Henderson, both rematches. Whether Silva wins or loses these matches, a fight toward the beginning of 2013 between Silva and Jones is a showstopper.
The real question is, why would Jones go to heavyweight?
Why vacate the light heavyweight championship, where he has enjoyed tremendous success, to be a contender at heavyweight?
Why throw away a chance to be the greatest ever before the first half of his career has happened?
Jones has a chance to make sports history twice in his career.