MMA Ratings Podcast

July 10, 2019

UFC 239: Jon Jones Got By Thiago Santos, Now Heavyweight Should Be Next

By Adam Martin

Thiago Santos proved to be the toughest fight of Jon Jones' career. The hulking Brazilian gave Jones everything he could handle for 25 minutes in the main event of UFC 239 and nearly took the belt. At the end of five rounds, one judge had it for Santos and two had it for Jones, leading to another successful title defense for the champ. The decision has drawn controversy, as many thought Santos deserved to get the nod, but there will not be a rematch. Santos will be out for the next year due to knee injuries suffered in the fight, so Jones will move on to the next challenger for his belt.

Jones has already taken to social media to indicate that his next fight will take place at 205 lbs. Despite it appearing that Jones has cleaned out the division, there still remain a few viable challengers for his belt. Jones specifically mentioned the undefeated Dominick Reyes as a possible opponent. Jan Blachowicz, who knocked out former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold earlier on the UFC 239 card, is another possible opponent. There are also youngsters like Aleksandar Rakic and Johnny Walker who are out there waiting for their shots at the belt. Every time it feels like Jones has beaten everyone there is at 205, someone else emerges. That's just the way it is.

But while Jones could stay at light heavyweight and continue to defend his belt there, I truly believe he should move up to heavyweight and take on new challenges at the higher weight class. It's true that Jones is already regarded as the greatest fighter of all time, but if he wants to continue building his legacy, he should move up in weight and try to win a second belt there. If you look at the other greats like Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, and Randy Couture, they all fought at multiple weight classes, and in the case of GSP and Couture, won titles there. Jones should want to challenge himself and do the same thing.

I'm hoping Jones recognizes that heavyweight is where the big fights are at. All due respect to guys like Reyes and Blachowicz, but they don't move the needle. The big-money fights for Jones are at heavyweight. A trilogy fight against UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier is arguably the fight to make if the champ gets by Stipe Miocic at UFC 241. But both Jones and Cormier want the fight at light heavyweight, even though UFC President Dana White has said he wants it at heavyweight. To me, it's a much more interesting fight at a higher weight class, given that Jones has already beaten Cormier at light heavyweight (twice, if you include the devastating knockout in their last bout, which was overturned by the CSAC). A fight at heavyweight adds a new variable, one that could favor the former "champ-champ," making a third bout between them much more intriguing.

But even if it isn't DC, there are other big fights for Jones at heavyweight. Francis Ngannou recently called out Jones, and that's a fight that really excited fans when he mentioned it. While Brock Lesnar has said he is retired from MMA, perhaps he could be lured back for the riches of a superfight with Jones at heavyweight. These are the types of fights that move the needle. These are the types of fights that Jones should want and crave, not title defenses at 205 lbs against guys who aren't stars.

Jon Jones says he will stick around light heavyweight for a bit longer, but surely the UFC can give him a couple million extra reasons to move up a weight class. The biggest fights for Jones are at heavyweight right now, not at light heavyweight. Jones is already the greatest ever, but he can really start to separate himself from the rest of the pack if he moves up in weight and wins a second belt. That's what legends are made of, and Jones should want to test himself and become a multi-division champion in the UFC just like other greats did. Let's hope he realizes heavyweight is his future and takes on the money fights in the higher weight class, because that's what the fans want to see.

UFC 239
Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos (UFC Light Heavyweight Championship): Jon Jones def. Thiago Santos via split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47).

UFC 239: Jones vs. Santos took place July 6, 2019 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Click HERE for more UFC 239 Post-Fight Analysis

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