For many years, Jon Jones has flirted with the idea of moving up to heavyweight. Now, in 2021, that transition appears more likely than ever. At the time of writing, Bones is currently training for his heavyweight debut, which will reportedly be against the winner of Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, who meet in a highly-anticipated rematch at UFC 260. Jones’ decision to vacate his light heavyweight belt and move up in weight has left many people pondering the following question; why is now the right time? Well, let’s see if we can answer that.
Nothing Left to Achieve in the 205-Pound Division
Since making his UFC debut back in August 2008, Jones’ in-cage career has undoubtedly been one of the most successful in the sport’s history. To date, he has just one loss on his record, which came via disqualification against Matt Hamill in his fourth fight with the organisation. However, the decision remains controversial, and Dana White has admitted that he’s working to overturn that defeat. Although the six-foot-four orthodox fighter has had his issues both personally and professionally, there’s already a case to be made that he’s the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
At the time of writing, the two-time light heavyweight champion has fought in 15 consecutive titles fights. Of those, Bones won them all. However, his TKO victory over Daniel Cormier in July 2017 was overturned to a no contest. Upon looking at the 205-pound rankings, it’s clear to see why the time’s right for a new challenge. Currently, Dominick Reyes, Glover Teixeira, and Thiago Santos make up the top-three spots in the leaderboards, and each of them has lost to Jones since 2014. Not only that but Anthony Smith, who currently ranks sixth, also suffered a one-sided defeat to Bones.
Seeking Two-Weight Champion Status
Before officially vacating the belt, Jones had yet to face Jan Blachowicz, who is now the 205-pound champion. While, on paper, that makes for an intriguing fight, a victory over the Polish fighter would do very little for the 33-year-old’s legacy. As such, the winner of Miocic and Ngannou is a far more enticing prospect. As of March 2nd, the reigning heavyweight champion is 5/4 in UFC betting to beat the Predator at UFC 260. Should Miocic triumph, then it opens the door to a title match-up between arguably the best light heavyweight and heavyweight of all time.
Records are meant to be broken. I set the record defending my heavyweight title three consecutive times. I fully intend on being the same one to break that record. #SMpic.twitter.com/XSDj7Z1Hga
On the subject of legacy, adding his name to the prestigious list of current two-weight world champions would unquestionably elevate Jones’ argument in the greatest of all-time discussion. Aside from Conor McGregor, only Amanda Nunes, Cormier, and Henry Cejudo have held two belts at any given time. Because of the intense rivalry between Jones and Cormier, it’s unlikely that Bones will want DC to have something over him, and that’s potentially another factor behind his heavyweight move.
Now’s the Time to Cement his Legacy
Given that there’s still a debate over the UFC’s GOAT, Jones has no choice but to test the waters at heavyweight. Despite what he’s done in the 205-pound division, he’s not yet the definitive all-time best. As such, now is the right time to try something new. Stylistically, he matches up well with Miocic, and he’s perhaps more well-rounded than Ngannou, meaning that this is as good a time as ever.