Quality of opponents insulting to Jones?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Jon Jones’ last two defenses of his light heavyweight title were against two athletes who were middleweights that had bulked up to the 205 lb. division for the chance at a title. Ben Fowlkes of USA Today Sports argues that although the matchups can prove entertaining, Jones needs to face actual legitimate contenders at light heavyweight to build his legacy:

That’s fine for the organization’s bottom line, but it doesn’t do much for Jones’ legacy. He entered Saturday’s bout as a 10-1 favorite, according to oddsmakers. Sonnen vowed to plant him on his back and “beat a hole in his face,” but instead it was Jones who did the planting and the beating. The only thing Sonnen could do was lie there and bleed.

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who has seen either man in action. Sonnen might be a workhorse of a middleweight, but Jones is a spectacular light heavyweight. He might be the best we’ve ever seen, though it’s hard to tell when the UFC puts him in barely competitive matchups for the sake of PPV sales. Now, according to White, Jones’ toe injury will likely delay a potential showdown with legitimate light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson (15-1, 7-1), who Jones has said he’d like to face next.

That’s the problem with wasting Jones’ talent on fighters such as Sonnen. Even if his opponents can’t hurt him, that’s no guarantee he’ll emerge unscathed and ready for a challenge that might actually tell us how great he can be.

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