Following his truly amazing comeback victory over Daniel Cormier at last weekend’s UFC 214, the time is perfect to take a look at four potential opponents for Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones’ second octagon outing following his lengthy absence.
Ladies and gentleman your king has returned!
After what seemed like an eternity away from the sport, the most gifted athlete in the history of mixed martial arts made his thunderous return to the UFC last weekend as he saw off the man – in Daniel Cormier – who may well have been the toughest test of his career to date.
Their rivalry, despite DC’s immediate thoughts on it post-fight, will remain among the most heated and ultimately entertaining of the modern era and though Cormier went 0-2 against the immensely talented Jones, he can hold his head high based on the fact that the only blemishes on his otherwise flawless career came in tightly contested showdowns with the man who many consider to be the greatest of all time.
Now, with that chapter in his fine career put to bed, many are wondering exactly who will be next for the 205lb champ and with that in mind, we felt like it was the perfect time to look into each of Jones’ options as we move deeper into the second half of 2017.
Option #1 – Volkan Oezdemir
To kick things off we have a look at one of the admittedly less likely prospects on this list.
Volkan Oezdemir’s UFC career so far has perhaps been unlike anything we have ever seen before. Drafted in as a short-notice opponent for the always-dangerous Ovince St. Preux earlier this year, Volkan was able to follow up a decision win over OSP with two first-minute KO victories over the 205lb division’s top up-and-comers in Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa.
For a man with three UFC fights under his belt, it’s so hard for us to know exactly how good Oezdemir is at this stage and given the fact that he remains a virtual unknown despite his top-5 light-heavyweight status, he looks like a fairly unlikely bet for Jones’ first title-defense in his latest reign as champ.
Option #2 – Alexander Gustafsson
This one may well pick up a bit of momentum if Jones decides to stay in the light-heavyweight division.
Before Jones’ lengthy absence from the UFC, Alexander ‘the Mauler’ Gustafsson was the first to really throw any real doubts over a Jon Jones victory. At UFC 165, Jones and Gustafsson engaged in one of the greatest title fights of all-time and though it was the current champ whose hand was raised on the night, the decision was not without its controversy and many have been wondering ever since what would happen if this pair ever met again inside the octagon.
In truth, Gus hasn’t had the easiest of spells in the time since that epic encounter but after his explosive fifth-round knockout of Glover Teixeira earlier this year, he proved that he is a fighter who is very much still on the rise and should Jones hang around at 205lbs, he stands above all others as his most likely dance-partner.
Option #3 – Brock Lesnar
Like it or not, there looks to be some serious wheels on this one.
Brock Lesnar’s status as a UFC fighter has been all over the place since he made his comeback to face off against Mark Hunt at UFC 200 and following his failed drug-test in the wake of that matchup, he has been serving a USADA suspension that has still been in effect despite his recent retirement. Stylistically, Brock would present some completely new challenges to ‘Bones’ given his sheer size as a human being and with his own stellar background in college wrestling, nothing would be certain as far as predicting the outcome of this fight is concerned.
For Jon, Lesnar represents the biggest money fight available to him right now and with no undeniable contenders to be found in the 205lb division at present time, do not be surprised if he finally makes the leap up to heavyweight to test himself against the man who is by far the most physically imposing figure in the history of the UFC.
Option #4 – Stipe Miocic
A super-fight for the heavyweight belt may well be the fight that the diehards want to see more than anything else.
Stipe Miocic is one title-defense away from carving out his own slice of history as the longest-serving champ heavyweight champ ever and with so much on the line, why not pair him up against the most talented combatant the sport has ever known?
Miocic’s run as the baddest man on the planet has been thrilling to say the least but after first round finishes against Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos, he has yet to face any real adversity in a long-drawn out battle as the defending champ and from a stylistic perspective, there is perhaps no-one on the planet (with the exception of a healthy Cain Velasquez) who could bring another war out of the Cleveland-native like our man Jonny Jones could.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena