With recent talk of cleaning out the Light Heavyweight division, find out who’s left for Jon Jones as we countdown his three most viable threats in the coming years. Once again, the champ proved his dominance, but is there anyone who can beat him?
Jon Jones’ latest victory over Rashad
Evans has left an increasingly scarce stable of new contenders for the
champion. Before Jones can lay claim to cleaning out an entire division, these
are his 3 most presentable challenges for the rest of 2012.
Dan Henderson (37-8) 13 KO’s
Shortly after the conclusion of UFC 145, Dan Henderson was announced as the next opponent for the champion -- setting him up
for his third title shot after coming up short in his previous two against
Anderson Silva and Rampage Jackson.
At 41 years old, Henderson has entered the
final stride of his career with recent victories over Maurício Rua and Fedor Emelianenko. Over the years, he’s
maintained his revered punching power and iron chin; however his stamina has
become an increasingly worrying issue in a potential 5 round affaire.
His latest fight with Shogun Rua was evidence
of that exact issue. He tired out after the third round and nearly gave the
fight away after his conditioning badly failed him in the final two rounds. If
he’s comes in against Jon Jones in that same condition you can almost guarantee
he’ll be finished before the 4th round.
Once again I’m expecting the UFC betting line to be around
-470 on the champion. Jon’s latest fight with Rashad showed us exactly what
happens when his opponent is limited to throwing one big right hand. Add in the
fact that Henderson has the shortest reach out of any of Jon’s previous
opponents, and I just can’t see him getting inside with his signature overhand
Alexander Gustafsson (15-1) 10 knockouts
For my money, the challenger with the greatest
potential to upset the champion and the UFC odds makers is Alexander Gustafsson.
The Swede has just one loss on his record, and
much like the champion, has shown an extremely high learning curve in his current
5 fight winning streak with the UFC. At’ 6’5, he also comes in as the only
opponent who can moderately match the champion freakish height and length for
Not only do I give Alex he edge on the feet,
but he’s also made enough strides in his takedown defense that would leave me
to believe he may not be as easy for the champion to take down as most seem to
The biggest issue is his striking defense which
at times has left him inexcusably hittable. He may have the height to match Jones,
but he’s still giving up a bit too much reach which should ultimately decide
It will be interesting to watch Gustafsson's next fight to see if he will ever be worth adding to your UFC picks in a match against the champ.
Muhammed Lawal (10-1) 6 knockouts
Although currently going through a year long
PED suspension, Muhammed Lawal may be given the opportunity to sign with the
UFC after serving out his time.
Lawal just so happens to be the one wrestler in
the entire division that could potentially give Jones fits in the cage. As a
former 3 time NCCA wrestling champ, he showed in his last fight against Lorenz
Larkin just how quickly he can get inside with both his double and singe leg
from the outside.
On top, he’s shown some of the most thudding
ground and pound in the division. Just recently against Roger Gracie we also witnessed just how much
power he’s able to generate, whether standing or on the mat, with his right
The biggest problem for King Mo is his
endurance. We’ve seen him gas early against both Gegard Mousasi and Rafael
Cavalcante in his time with Strikeforce. There’s also the added issue of him
recently going through over a dozen surgeries to remove a staph infection from
his knee. How he comes back from those is still anyone’s guess.