Jon Jones star continues to rise after barely breaking a sweat against seasoned veteran Vladimir Matyushenko last night. The performance left little doubt that despite his relatively young age, the 23 year-old is now ready to take a serious step up in competition.
Dana White has already indicated that he’s ready to put Jones in the mix with the top eight contenders at 205lbs and the good news is that they would all make for great bouts, but who will he fight next?
Since Jones appeared to sustain no damage whatsoever in the just under two minutes it took him to dispatch Matyushenko, so in all likelihood we’ll be seeing him re-enter the octagon sooner rather than later.
The downside to that is the fact that a number of the divisions top talents are already scheduled to fight. For instance Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is due to fight Ryan Bader, while Rampage Jackson takes on Lyoto Machida, Randy Couture is paired with James Toney, and of course current No.1 contender Rashad Evans is currently sidelined while waiting on the champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua returning from injury.
That leaves two big name fighters in the hat –Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin.
Both men have been out injured recently, and Franklin in particular is expected to be out until the end of the year thanks to the broken arm he sustained in his KO victory over Chuck Liddell.
Meanwhile Griffin has been nursing a shoulder injury, but should be back sooner, and at that stage that makes him the most likely candidate if the UFC are aiming to get him back in the cage in the near future.
A potential wildcard would be for the promotion to wait and see the result of the Couture Vs Toney fight which takes place at the end of this month. If Couture does make short work of the boxer as many have predicted then he may also be open to a quick turnaround and the chance to make a genuine move towards another title shot.
Either would be a fight I’d be happy to see, and given what we’ve seen from him so far in his young career he certainly wouldn’t be out of his depth against either of these former champions.