Life moves fast in MMA.
Immediately after the UFC completed what may turn out to be its biggest fight of 2017 on Saturday at UFC 214—with Jon Jones dispatching Daniel Cormier via a third-round knockout—next year's potential marquee attraction started getting loaded onto the launch pad.
"Brock Lesnar," Jones said on the mic after defeating Cormier to reclaim the organization's light heavyweight title. "If you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy who weighs 40 pounds less than you, meet me in the Octagon."
If Jones and Lesnar make good on their threats to fight each other at heavyweight during 2018, it would be an unbelievable spectacle. It would also be the leader in the clubhouse to become the UFC's biggest-selling fight of all time.
Both parties have independently said they're ready, and UFC President Dana White is interested in the idea. A blaze of attention has sparked around the potential fight after Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter tweeted July 20 that Jones vs. Lesnar was at the top of the organization's wish list for the coming year:
As Botter noted, this bout is still a long way from becoming a reality. UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky debunked initial reports that Lesnar had already re-entered the UFC's drug-testing pool, per John Morgan of MMAjunkie. The big man would still have to serve the remaining time on a suspension he picked up after testing positive around his most recent comeback fight.
With Lesnar enjoying a lucrative but low-impact regular role with WWE, he could also merely be using all this Jones talk as a negotiating tactic for his next pro wrestling contract.
But we can dream, can't we? Joining me to discuss the possibility of Jones vs. Lesnar is Bleacher Report lead combat sports writer Jonathan Snowden.
Chad Dundas: On one hand, Jones vs. Lesnar seems too weird and wonderful to happen. It feels like something the UFC would have teased us with back in 2013, only to have it fall apart after a combination of injury, unsuccessful contract negotiations, drug-test failures and other mundane calamities.
But if the journey of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor from fantasy to reality has taught us anything, it's that we should be more careful about throwing around phrases like "never ever" and "publicity stunt."
Not to sound like a broken record, but we are more than a year into the WME-IMG era in the UFC, during which we have all been told that increasing revenue is the rule of the day. If our new Octagon overlords are serious about pumping up profits, Jones vs. Lesnar would be about the most effective move on the game board.
Could this fight happen? Would both guys take it? Would the MMA stars align to allow us to be this happy?
Jonathan Snowden: Both fighters would take the fight without a moment's hesitation. Did you see Jones address the possibility in a BT Sport interview? I haven't seen someone say "yes" that quickly since the last time I asked my wife whether she wanted me to watch the kids while she got some alone time.
As for Lesnar, I don't see any reason he wouldn't take the fight as well. Whatever flaws the man may have, cowardice and hesitancy are not among them. This is a guy who fought Frank Mir in just his second MMA bout and came back after five years of WWE hijinks to dismantle the UFC's hardest puncher in Mark Hunt.
Neither of these men knows fear in the way us mere mortals do.
My concern is this fight is too good to go down. UFC's track record when it comes to promoting superfights isn't so grand. We didn't get Frank Shamrock vs. Bas Rutten, Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell in their primes, Fedor Emelianenko vs. Randy Couture or Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre. That's four "didn't gets" without scratching the surface of missed opportunities.
But the new UFC is all about finding ways to separate viewers from their money. And if we are any indication, an awful lot of viewers would be quick to toss $60 at White to see this fight.
Chad: Maybe I'm still high on the revelation that Mayweather vs. McGregor is going to happen, but I have some hope Jones vs. Lesnar can, too.
For one thing, unlike Silva or Emelianenko, it should be no huge trick for the UFC to get both of these fighters under contract. It already has Jones, and Lesnar's UFC 200 appearance against Hunt showed his WWE deal isn't an insurmountable obstacle. We don't think this one will take a Couture-style Hail Mary lawsuit to get on paper.
You know what else I like about the prospect of a Lesnar-Jones matchup? It makes sense, athletically as well as promotionally.
Now that Jones has put the Cormier feud behind him, there's no pressing business keeping him at light heavyweight. Conventional wisdom has always said he would wind up at heavyweight, and nobody is going to offer him the sort of payday or exposure Lesnar would.
Meanwhile, at 40, His Brockness has eased into part-time duty with both WWE and the UFC. His win over Hunt, though overturned, showed he can still be a force while simultaneously reminding us of his stylistic shortcomings. He continues to bring a ton of interest from casual and hardcore fans alike, but he's not knocking on the door of a title shot at 265 pounds.
As such, it makes perfect sense to put Jones and Lesnar together.
And that's to say nothing of the actual, physical matchup, which is intriguing enough to set my heart aflutter and my head spinning.
Jonathan: You know what's amazing about Jon Jones, beside all the obvious things like his work ethic, skill and questionable decision-making? His pure size—measurables in the parlance of our world.
Against Cormier, he had a five-inch height advantage and a whopping 12-inch edge in reach. Having those edges allows Jones to strike well before he can be struck and helps him control where and when the fighting takes place.
This is kind of a big deal.
You know what else is amazing? He'd still have those physical advantages against Brock Lesnar!
We think of Lesnar as this gargantuan, a grizzly bear with a crew cut and the capacity to maul his opponents. But Jones is taller and has a longer reach. With 30 extra pounds on him, even the great Lesnar may be biting off more than he can chew.
In some ways, this is the single most fascinating fight I can imagine. It's like Superman going man-to-beast with the Incredible Hulk. Do we dare pick a winner?
Chad: Jones may be taller and rangier, but even at 240 pounds or so, he would give up significant size to Lesnar, who cuts weight to make the 265-pound limit and might be around 280 on fight night.
But while physical size and strength may well define this matchup, they are also just the gateway to countless fascinating questions.
Jones would be the better-rounded, more mobile fighter, but would he be able to use those skills and his quickness to keep Lesnar off him? Would Brock just steamroll him down to the mat as many times as it took to get a stoppage or salt away a decision?
Further, if Brock does manage to muscle past Jones' length and take him down, could he keep him there?
Could Jones work his dynamic, diverse offense against Lesnar? Is Lesnar done for if he stays on his feet? Does the former heavyweight champ's sheer power make the margin of error so small he would catch Jones with something and knock him out?
These are just the questions that immediately come to mind. And frankly, I don't know the answers to any of them.
I'd cautiously pick Jones based on age, athleticism and all-around skill set. But if you told me Lesnar wound up being too damn big, I'd believe that, too.
What say you?
Jonathan: Jones had fought some of the best wrestlers in UFC history before stepping into the cage with Cormier.
Ryan Bader, Matt Hamill, Chael Sonnen and Vladimir Matyushenko all fell way short. None of them even looked remotely competitive against Jones. He didn't just fend off their feeble attempts; he took each wrestler down, bruising pride while also bruising bodies by beating them at their own game.
But there's a difference between those men and Lesnar: 50 pounds of muscle.
You're right that Lesnar would present the kind of challenge Jones has never faced in his outstanding career. But Jones has proved time and again that he confronts challengers head-on and never wilts. He would emerge victorious against Lesnar, adding another bullet point on what is already a Hall of Fame resume.
Jones has built his legend in the insular world of MMA. This is the fight that spreads the word to the masses. It's not just the best fight you could possibly make for Jones—it's the only one that would make him the next big thing.