Jon Jones took his seventh consecutive UFC win on Saturday and retained his UFC light-heavyweight title in what was his third consecutive successful defence of the belt he won from Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua last year.
He achieved his win by way of a shut-out of Rashad Evans, thought by many to be the man most likely of anyone in the division to be capable of beating him. The win has got the more excitable declaring Jones to be already probably the ‘Greatest of All Time’ while even the more prosaic are openly wondering if there is anyone who can beat him at 205lbs.
His next challenger will be Dan Henderson later this year. Here’s what the Fighters Only team think of the Jon Jones landscape:
Editor, Fighters Only and Train Hard, Fight Easy
If not Rashad Evans, then who? Well, Dan Henderson I guess. Jon Jones produced a performance that, deep down, most of us where expecting in Atlanta. He’s just too good, too long, too slick, and too Jon Jones for the rest of the 205lb division.
Rashad just couldn’t get his game plan into effect, as ‘Bones’ utilized that awesome range to perfection, while also showing us a new weapon in his arsenal. Those insane short elbows – which he dispatches when he allows his opponent inside the pocket – have got fight-ender written all over them. It was only Rashad’s heart that kept him going on a couple of occasions in Georgia.
Quite what veteran puncher ‘Hendo’ is going to be able to produce that’s different from what Jones has already bested so far in his UFC reign has yet to be seen. But if he doesn’t have a magical key to unlocking the champion, it’s going to be a thoroughly painful experience for the former Pride and Strikeforce champion.
However, before Henderson’s chances of success are completely written off even before the fight is confirmed, it’s worth remembering that Randy Couture was 43 when he faced Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight belt back in 2007, a year old than Henderson will celebrate in August.
Nobody gave Randy much chance of success, and in fact feared for his safety, yet his victory is now legendary. If Hendo too can land a big shot in the opening seconds, who knows what may happen…
Fighters Only Consultant Editor, MMA Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph
After all the hype, the fight was one-sided. Jones retained the UFC light-heavyweight title with ease against Rashad Evans, using his reach advantages on the night which will be remembered for Jones using elbow punches like jabs throughout the fight, notably in the second round. That was the round when he took the life out of his grudge rival. It was tawdry in the final two rounds.
On final analysis, they were on different levels. Evans had a striker's chance until the end, but it may just be that Jones is on another level altogether to anyone else in the 205lb division. Although the third round was closest, I gave all five rounds to Jones. The judges scored it 49-46 twice, and 50-45.
Dan Henderson up next. The 40-year-old was quick to exploit the fact that Jones was rocked a couple of times by Evans, insisting yesterday that he could be the man to take it one step further. But it could be even more one-sided when Hendo steps in against him. I believe Jones will stop Henderson. Jones, 24, 6ft 4ins tall and with that 84 ins reach, is the new wunderkind.
Alex Gustafsson is clearly not ready for a contest of this magnitude, either. If Jones defeats Henderson in the late summer, it could be problematic for the UFC to find a game challenger. It could be an issue going forward, and indeed, Jones may want to step up to heavyweight challenges soon. Depressing in one way. But we are witnessing a pathfinder at work.
GOAT? Far too early to say. He needs to face a couple of challengers who have a skill set to challenge him, and who are coming up, to cement his name.
Fighters Only Website Editor
I am not the superstitious type, nor do I look for patterns in MMA given that it is one of the most unpredictable sports out there, but I do see what may be a possibly interesting trend going into the Dan Henderson fight.
Several fights back, Jones was considered not only unbeatable but basically impossible to score a point against. Rua didn’t, Rampage didn’t. Then Machida had a good go at him and showed a hole in Jones’ game - his tendency to move backwards in straight lines and become momentarily flustered when rushed.
Machida gave him the hardest fight of his career, but then got strangled in the second round and that was that. Jones marched on to a fight with Rashad Evans and whether it was Machida’s path-finding or knowledge from their training days, Evans took things a step further than Machida did.
Evans was able to land some clean shots on Jones, rattling him in the process, but he couldn’t score the clean KO. But Henderson can if he lands his overhand right flush onto the champion’s jaw - if he does, Jones’ last three fights will be a steady progression from impenetrable defence to penetrated defence to penetrated defence plus stoppage.
Machida was in the same position at one time, and has struggled to regain his form since. With Jones being a confidence fighter, a KO loss to Henderson could be devastating for him long-term. On the other hand if Henderson doesn’t do it, no one in the light-heavyweight division is going to topple Jones unless he fights injured or makes a crucial error.
Lots of talk about Jones being ‘the greatest’ - he’s not yet, but he could well be in time. He has a very open mind and is continually learning. I think he needs more work on his absolute boxing and Thai boxing fundamentals to really tighten up and if he does, he’s going to end up having to move to heavyweight to find challenges.
Associate Editor, Fighters Only and Train Hard, Fight Easy
It's far too early to consider Jon Jones in the conversation as one of the greatest of all time, even after a one-sided decision over what should have been his greatest test in Rashad Evans at UFC 145. There's a certain amount of paying dues necessary to install a fighter as a candidate.
Through no fault of his own (aside from his phenomenally ceaseless dominance) he's still untested. Sure, he's beaten a who's who of the 205lb division in one-sided bouts, but although he's been wobbled once or twice, and now been taken the full five rounds, he's never been bullied. He's never rebounded for an Anderson Silva comeback.
Or, on the other hand, defied the odds with a perfect Randy Couture-style game plan. Save for a handful of single punches, he's never had things not go his way for an extended period of time only to come good, and never gone into a marquee bout a significant underdog with seemingly no chance of victory then get the 'W'.
When he proves he can do those things, and it's surely a case of 'when' not 'if' based on his unending improvements, then he makes the shortlist.
Fighters Only Assistant Editor
Every time we think a fighter is unbeatable, he is quickly humbled. I mean who remembers 'The Machida Era' that Joe Rogan so confidently proclaimed? . The aforementioned 'Machida Era' barely lasted one fight, but if Rogan said the same thing about Jon Jones, I wouldn't disagree. In fact, I'd say we're so deep into the 'Jones Era' that I don't see another era taking its place for at least another five years.
Jon Jones has all the tools to beat every single light-heavyweight in the world. If you've got good wrestling, he can nullify it. If you've got heavy hands, then he can take ia shot on the chin. There's no area that Jones is weak in.
He's been a champion for just over a year and he's already beaten Ryan Bader, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida and now Evans. After Dan Henderson, who is next? Alexander Gustaffson? A potential rematch against Rashad? Maybe a fight between Rafael Cavalcante could be organised.
I think he beats every single one of those fighters 99 times out 100. Is Jon Jones the great martial artist of all time? It's difficult to say, but I know I'm very interested in seeing whether or not the Jones train continues to roll on, or if it's stopped to a quick and violent halt.