Yesterday, UFC Lightheavyweight champion Jon Jones successfully defended his title against Rashad Evans at UFC 145 from Atlanta, Georgia. Evans was never able to threaten Jones, though he was able to extend the champion to five rounds. UFC President Dana White has already stated that the next challenge for Jon Jones will come in the form of 41 year old Dan Henderson. I look for Jones to come in an overwhelming favorite for that bout when the lines come out.
Henderson is a solid choice, and really the only fighter left on the UFC roster that makes for an intriguing matchup for the dominant 206 lb champion. Henderson has the KO punch, elite wrestling credentials and a Hall of Fame MMA resume to justify the title shot, but I am not sure he has the skill package necesarry to face down Jones.
For the first time in his recent UFC efforts, Jones did not have moments of complete dominance against Rashad Evans last night. But he showed a lot of what he is going to need to beat Henderson – he was patient and methodical, and he controlled the distance very well. He also stayed focused and executed over a full five rounds, and that was the first time in his career he has gone 25 minutes. Let’s face it, Henderson is a bit more mechanical in his standup than Evans is, and he is a little bit slower. I don’t see Jones having a lot of trouble using his length and reach to keep a distance, until he figures Henderson out. And no one has been able to handle it once Jones has all his weapons blazing.
The UFC should also be preparing for what comes next for Jones after Henderson. The bottom line is they have a young champion who they could keep active, but they don’t have a lot of talent right now that would not be a recycled opponent.
I do want to throw one name out there – Gegard Mousasi. Mousasi is just 26 years old, and has a strong 32-3 overall record in MMA. He was most recently seen on the Strikeforce roste,r and he didn’t look great in his last outing. The UFC should be getting him active, because if he is on the top of his game, he can be very unorthodox and dangerous.