This past weekend we watched Jon Jones, the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, capture Heavyweight Gold in laughably easy fashion. He defeated former Interim Champion Ciryl Gane by Guillotine choke in just two minutes of the fight while only absorbing six strikes. Having already held the record for most consecutive title defenses in the UFC in the Light Heavyweight division, Jones will now begin his quest to stack up Heavyweight title defenses in the same manner. His first title defense is already in the works for UFC 290 against former Champion Stipe Miocic. Miocic is widely considered the greatest UFC Heavyweight Champion of all time and will be a good legacy fight for Jon Jones’ resume. However, at this point in his career I don’t see Stipe as a real threat to Jones in the Octagon. Miocic is now 40 years old and it will be his first time back in the Octagon since being brutally knocked out by Francis Ngannou two years ago.
If there’s a man currently in the top five of the UFC Heavyweight division that can beat Jon Jones it is Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is currently the fourth ranked Heavyweight on a four fight win streak. He is scheduled to fight third ranked Sergei Pavlovich in April, with fans expecting the winner of that fight to face the winner of Jones vs Miocic. For the record, I am not writing Blaydes in to beat Pavlovich. That in and of itself is a tough enough task in front of him. However, of those two, I would have much more faith in Blaydes being able to beat Jon Jones. Blaydes has the wrestling prowess to nullify Jones’ grappling attempts and is probably the most underrated striker in the Heavyweight division.
While I concede that Sergei Pavlovich is the most dangerous knockout artist on the roster right now, Jon Jones has faced the scariest knockout artists of the Light Heavyweight division for a decade and time and time again they failed to run through him the way they did lesser opponents. It is going to be absolutely essential to have a firm base in wrestling to beat Jon Jones, and currently in the Heavyweight division the only person that checks that box in the top five is Curtis Blaydes. Down the line there will be opportunities for guys like Jailton Almeida and Sergei Spivac to challenge Jones in wrestling, but right now they’re several wins away from a title shot opportunity. For my money, Curtis Blaydes is the only hope for the Heavyweight division in the foreseeable future.