There are a few figures in sports whose excellence elveates the entire sport. Muhammad Ali brought extraordinary attention to boxing, as did Jordan to basketball, and Pele to soccer. Jon Jones appears to be that man in MMA, the one who breaks through to mainstream celebrity, and eevates the sport along with it.
Thus who Jones fights next is not just interesting, it is important.
Jones is likely to fight either Dan Henderson, who is coming off a win over Shogun, or the winner of Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis at UFC on FOX 2 on Jan. 28.
In an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show” Jones’ trainer Mike Winkeljohn gamed each of the possinle next opponents. “They all present different challenges,” said Winkeljohn. “I’m not sure which one’s the biggest. Dan’s big right hand is always a big challenge. [He’s] somebody that could be able to close that gap and find a hole and try to get to Jon’s chin. That’s probably the dilemma with him, but he’s small. I don’t think he can outwrestle Jon. I think Jon beats him everywhere. I don’t think he can hit [Jones] with that right hand.”
“I think Jon kills Phil Davis with his standup. I think Phil Davis is a tremendous wrestler and I’m sure his standup’s going to get better daily. We’ll see how much better it’s improved when he fights Rashad. That will tell me a lot about where he’s going with his training and what he’s doing.”
“I think Rashad Evans is probably capable of closing the gap, if he wants to, faster than anybody out there in trying to strike with Jon. But I think [against] all of them, Jon’s got the ability to just pick them apart from long range like he has with all of his other fights and break them down and then finish the fight when it’s time.”
“I think he’s prepared to fight Rashad. I think mentally, I don’t have a problem with where his head’s at with Rashad. He believes in his heart that he can beat Rashad. So no matter what Rashad says, it becomes posturing. … I think Jon sees that and I’m not worried about it.”
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