Light Heavyweight Without Jon Jones

PHOTO: Forbes

 

When I first heard that Jon Jones was vacating the Light Heavyweight title, I thought what most thought. He doesn’t want anything to do with having to fight Dominic Reyes again, or perhaps even Thiago Santos for that matter. Which there is no shame in, if Jones never fought another day in his life, he would still go down in history as one of, if not, the greatest mixed martial artists in history.

It’s not that I feel like his skills aren’t as sharp as they once were, or that Reyes and or Santos has his number. I just think that after almost 10 years as the face of the weight division that was once considered the most stacked in the sport, that his time there is up. Jones is generally considered to be a young man in this game, and he is. But a lot of people tend to forget just how long he has been around for.

This is a fighter who made his promotional debut at UFC 87 for god’s sake. The guy has been fighting professionally for 12 years now and has continuously fought the absolute best competition he possibly could since the very beginning. Throughout the vast majority of his reign at 205, Jones looked unbeatable, and in a lot of cases, multiple levels above the number one contenders who fought so hard for the opportunity to get to compete with Bones. But over the past couple of fights, it seemed as though the magic was fading.

For the record, I don’t necessarily think that jumping to heavyweight is going to solve all of his problems, but the more I think about the idea, the more I love it. Jones has had an amazing career at light heavyweight, but it has become quite clear that the time for this change is now.  Things have become stagnant for him, and I always believed that the lack of high profile fights played a part in the uninspired performances we’ve seen from him as of late.

The problem with having a dominant champion for so long is that it overshadows everyone else in the division. There have always been a lot more viable challengers for Jones than most realize, but you’d never know it because Jones has always been the focal point of the 205ers. A byproduct of that means there isn’t much attention left for the contenders vying for the chance to challenge one of the most dominant champions in the game. Jones abandoning the light heavyweight division after cleaning it out for all of these years presents a huge opportunity for the other fighters on the roster.

The Light heavyweight division is the most wide-open it’s ever been, and by virtue of that, we are going to see a lot of new faces looking to fill that void. Which is bound to breathe new life into a division that was otherwise bordering on becoming dull. With the spotlight open for the taking, expect to see it bring out the best in some motivated contenders. It’s amazing to think that as of UFC 253, either Jan Blachowicz or Dominic Reyes will be the undisputed Light Heavyweight champion. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Jones holding that position, but that hard to imagine scenario becomes reality on September 26th.

With Glover Texeria and Thiago Santos on deck, the number one contender position is up for grabs.  All of the fighters in the title picture are individuals who would be very unlikely champions if Jones was still around.  But that’s just it, Jones ain’t around anymore. So a new king will be crowned, and the landscape of the division will be permanently changed.  

As for Jones, a new division will present new challenges.  The much needed fresh coat of paint is going to be a welcomed change for not just Jones, but for the fans as well.  The whole new world at Heavyweight is going to give Jones a much-needed boost. Something that in retrospect, he has been needing for quite some time now.

 

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