In the wake of Jon Jones’ destructive win over “Shogun” Rua there is one fight that a lot of people seem to be clamoring to see, and it isn’t Jones vs. Rashad Evans. While Evans has already been named as the next contender for Jones’ newly won UFC Light Heavyweight Championship there seems to already be a lot of support behind a completely different direction.
There are a lot of people who now think we need to see Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva, but I’m not one of them. Here’s why.
First I think that Jones needs the opportunity to establish himself as his division’s top fighter. The reason a Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre superfight has so much potential is because both fighters are the undisputed kings of their weight classes. As of this writing we’re less than 24 hours into Jones’ title reign. The man needs to worry about defending his belt against a former teammate first. If Jones wins his first defense he should then have another challenger lined up right away, and that brings me to my second point.
The UFC needs to establish some sort of clear pecking order in the light heavyweight division. Right now they’ve got a ton of high-level fighters, all of whom have a win and/or loss against at least one other top guy. If we discount the DQ loss to Matt Hamill (since Jones was clearly winning that fight anyways) we now have a light heavyweight champion who is essentially undefeated. The division has been highly unstable for a number of years now so I for one would welcome “The Jones Era” at 205 lbs.
The last reason I say hold off on Jones vs. Silva is because the man known as “Bones” is still not nearly as well-known as some of the company’s other champions. His stock has risen so fast that he’s still something of an unknown commodity amongst casual fans. Those of us that follow the sport so closely have obviously kept a well-trained eye on Jones since that star-making performance against Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94. We know that he’s something truly special so it’s fair to want to see him face that upper echelon of talent right away, but what the UFC needs is for Jones to get a few more main events under his belt.
Let’s be clear here: I’m not saying that I never want to see Jones vs. Silva. It’s clear that the fight has plenty of potential and if I was to make a short list of guys that I think could beat Jones, I would undoubtedly put Silva’s name on there. At this point it’s important to consider each man’s place in his career; Silva has dominated his division for a number of years while Jones has just now taken over as the top dog in his weight class. A superfight between the two would be great for Jones’ career if he wins, but thoroughly devastating if he loses.
Right now Jones vs. Evans is the fight that makes the most sense. In the last week the topic of these two teammates fighting one another has far overshadowed the talk of Jones trying to beat “Shogun.” Dana White has long insisted that training partners will have to fight one another if gold is on the line, and this fight is his chance to finally see that mantra put into effect. This fight has several ready-made storylines in place and if the pre-fight talk turns ugly (as it very well could) then I think there’s a strong chance Jones vs. Evans could be one of the biggest fights of the year. After that there are a number of high-profile light heavyweight fights on the horizon, and with that there are plenty of fresh opponents for the newest UFC champion.
Let Anderson Silva defend his belt. Let’s not dismiss Silva vs. St. Pierre just yet. Give Jones a chance to get comfortable at the top, and maybe we can talk about Jones vs. Silva in a year or two.