UFC 152 should be Jon Jones’ final fight at 205
By James Walker
The string of events leading up to Jon Jones' main event match up and initial cancellation of UFC 151 was a fiasco. There is no denying it.
Whether you blame Jones' decision to not accept a high-profile title fight against Chael Sonnen following Dan Henderson’s injury as the reason UFC 151 was cancelled, or you believe the fault lies with the UFC for relying too much on one fight, where the blame should fall is up for interpretation.
But here is one thing not up for interpretation: This should be Jones’ last fight at light heavyweight.
Jones is chasing history and has nothing left to prove at 205 lbs. The fact that he is fighting Vitor Belfort is further proof of that. Belfort is a solid fighter, but he's not a top contender at light heavyweight. He was thrust into fighting Jones after Option A (Sonnen), Option B (Lyoto Machida) and Option C (Mauricio Rua) all fell through.
Nothing is guaranteed in MMA, but Jones will be a huge favorite against Belfort and has zero to gain from this fight. If Jones wins easily, he was expected to. If Jones struggles or is upset, that's even worse. It's a classic case of Jones spinning his wheels.
You can blame the talented, young champion for a lot of things. But it's not his fault the UFC doesn't have enough viable light heavyweight contenders.
Jones cleaned out the division so fast in the past year and a half that the UFC just couldn't keep up. The organization has solid prospects, such as Alexander Gustaffson and Glover Teixeira. But no one besides Henderson was ready in September to give Jones a stiff challenge in his weight class.
Now it's time for Jones to take his rare combination of talents to another weight class: heavyweight. It’s been a move speculated for months, and, after the Belfort fight, the time is right for Jones to make the move.
Jones is polarizing outside the cage with MMA fans and no one can deny his in-cage talent. He has enough natural ability, skills and work ethic to become one of the best fighters of all time.
However, dominating overmatched fighters (Belfort) or people he already beat (Machida and Rua) at 205 isn’t enough. A future fight against Sonnen would be interesting and it surely would generate pay-per-view buys. But is that enough reason for Jones to stay?
For Jones, 25, to continue to ascend and strive to new levels, a move to heavyweight is the next logical step.
Jones would face the biggest challenges of his career at heavyweight and could no longer overmatch opponents simply with length and size. Heavyweights like Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, for example, would have size and strength advantages, while Jones would be one of the smaller but most skilled heavyweights in the division.
UFC 152 on Sept. 22 most likely is Jones’ final fight of 2012. But it also should be Jones’ final fight at light heavyweight, where he has nothing else to prove.