In perhaps the biggest news post-UFC 252, Jon Jones announced on Twitter that he will be relinquishing his light-heavyweight championship and is looking to move up to the heavyweight division.
MMA fans across the globe have had mixed reactions to this news.
Those in support mention how Jones moving up could help fill the gap at heavyweight that Daniel Cormier’s retirement will undoubtedly leave. Additionally, they believe it allows for some of the up and coming guys to get their shot in the light heavyweight division (such as a Dominick Reyes, Jan Blachowicz, and Thiago Santos).
Some have argued against Jones’ decision to move up, as they believe this is his way of “ducking” a title rematch against Reyes that he thinks he can lose. Also given his leaner build, people have casted their doubts about his putting on weight and being affective against bigger, stronger opponents.
I personally would argue that this move is great for both Jon Jones and the UFC as a whole, as it opens a new story to his already stellar career and fight fans will be more eager to watch his fights than ever. If Jones can dominate the heavyweight division as he did the light-heavyweight division, it would further the narrative of him being the greatest MMA fighter of all time even more so.
Who will Jon Jones face first in his quest for heavyweight stardom?
I believe it will be a fight against Francis Ngannou. I would argue the odds of this contest happening before a potential fight against current champ, Stipe Miocic are high, and frankly make sense as a test for Jones at this new weight class. This bout has already been rumored with some time, as both fighters have exchanged tweets with one another and “MMA Twitter” is staying busy by leaking negotiation rumors.
It would make sense that the inevitable title fight between Ngannou and Miocic would happen first though, as Jones has made it clear that it will take time to put on weight and is in the midst of contract negotiations with the UFC. Regardless of the result in this potential title bout, Francis should accept the fight against Jones, as it serves as a true resume booster for both fighters. Should Ngannou knock him out, he will forever be known as the man to beat Jon Jones for the first time, or if Jones wins, it will prove he is a legit title contender at this new weight class.
I’m confident that I speak for everyone in saying I hope this fight happens. I believe this contest is one that all MMA fans would pay to watch and are already excited for.
Jon Jones moving up to heavyweight is sure to shift narratives in both the heavyweight and light-heavyweight divisions. If successful, it will prove that he is indeed the pound for pound best fighter today and indisputably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.