Jon Jones: Is the Champion's Reach an Unfair Advantage?

Hunter Homistek@HunterAHomistekCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones fights (red trunks) fights Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE

Jon Jones has some freakishly long arms. 

At 6'4", 205 pounds, logic tells us Jones should possess somewhere around a 75-inch to 78-inch reach. 

That, however, is not the case. 

Jones' reach is a UFC-best 84.5 inches,  and many feel that the light heavyweight champion has an unfair advantage in his fights. 

They are wrong.

Let us not forget: The UFC is divided into weight classes, not reach classes.  Sure, Jones' reach plays an important factor in his gameplans and skills, but you cannot fault somebody for using his or her body's frame to its full potential.  

The important thing is not that Jones has an incredible reach, but that he knows how to utilize his reach and maximize its effectiveness in a fight.  

Oh, and in case you have not noticed, Jones has some pretty spectacular wrestling and grappling as well, which is done from a range where you can have the reach of a T-Rex and still be effective.  

Does Jones' length give him a leverage advantage in this situation?  

Of course, but he still knows how to use it and he understands the proper angles he should and could attack from.  He is a highly skilled and trained mixed martial artist, and to belittle his athleticism and skill set by saying his reach is "unfair" is ludicrous. 

For instance, Stephan Bonnar has an 80-inch reach.  That means that Jones had only a 4.5-inch reach advantage against him-- a large, but not out-of-this-world discrepancy.  We see reach variances to this degree frequently inside the UFC Octagon, but we rarely see the dominance that Jones exuded in that fight. 

Credit his training and skill, not his reach.

To address a second point, Jones moving to heavyweight changes little, if anything, regarding his reach. 

For those of you saying, "Jones needs to move to heavyweight and pick on people his own size," chew on this:

Stefan Struve is 6'11", and his reach is 84.5 inches, tied with Jones for the longest in the organization. 

Alistair Overeem is 6'5", and his reach is 80 inches.

Shane Carwin, a mammoth heavyweight, also has an 80 inch reach. 

What does Jones moving to heavyweight change where reach is concerned?

He is still going to have an advantage over every heavyweight, save Struve, and naysayers would undoubtedly still complain about that being an issue. 

"Bones" cannot help that he is lanky.  He can help how he uses that reach, however, and he has dedicated his time and effort to making sure he uses it to its full potential.

For that, we should credit the man, not berate him and discredit his accomplishments. 

Struve, for example, has the reach of Jones, but he cannot wrestle like Jones, and he does not utilize his reach to the same degree.  If reach was all that mattered, Struve would certainly be heavyweight champion.

Where weight is concerned, Jones is an average-sized light heavyweight.  He makes weight easily at 205 pounds, and that is because he does not cut an extraordinary amount of weight. 

Past opponents including Rampage Jackson and Stephan Bonnar both had a clear weight advantage against Jones, but we see how that worked out for them. 

Jones has a large frame, but he is not overly muscular, and he does not "dwarf" his opponents by any means as far as muscularity is concerned.

He is strong because he utilizes leverage and smartly times his throws and takedowns.  I can almost guarantee you that Rampage and Rashad can bench-press more than Jones, but that did not help them look stronger in the Octagon against him, did it?

If Jones moves to heavyweight, he will then be smaller than everyone else where weight is concerned.  If he were to lose, those favoring a move to heavyweight would say, "See, I told you he was too big at light heavyweight!  Look how he did against people his own size!"

To which I would say, "See, I told you he was properly fitted for light heavyweight, look how undersized he was in that fight."

It is a circle we can go around all day, but the fact is that Jones plays fairly within the limits of the UFC's light heavyweight division.  He is a long fighter, but length alone does not guarantee success.

If you still think Jones' reach is an unfair advantage, all I can tell you is this: get used to it. He is going to be winning a lot more fights in the future, and it will be because he is an exceptional mixed martial artist, not because he has long arms.