The most realistic option on the list in terms of Jones’ immediate future is no doubt Daniel Cormier. Cormier is an undersized heavyweight ready to move down to 205 pounds after an October outing against Roy Nelson. He’s called Jones out on numerous occasions and gotten venom in return, making the match-up personal to a certain extent. With top shelf wrestling and heavy hands, Cormier definitely has the ability to unseat Jones from the top 205-pound spot. Then again, counting the champ out of any clash is folly, and it’s very possible he could crush the smaller Cormier. The one time Jones has legitimately been in trouble (outside of his dislocated toe) came against Vitor Belfort when “The Phenom” locked up an Armbar and forced Jones to grit his way through a minor injury to escape the hold. Fabricio Werdum’s BJJ, especially from the bottom, would provide an even greater threat to the limbs of the lanky Jones. Werdum also doesn’t mind striking or fighting in the clinch, meaning he’d be prepared to stand as well. All in all, the bout would likely prove to be an evenly matched affair and an impressive chip in Jones’ pocket if successful against a seasoned vet like “Vai Cavalo”. Surprisingly, Junior dos Santos is not as large as might be imagined and regularly comes in around 240 pounds. His power is clearly superior to Jones’, but it would be interesting to see how often he could connect against an adversary able to take him down or pepper him with strikes from outside of the pocket. Then again, one solid shot to Jones’ chin and “Bones” could end up de-boned, so to speak. Middleweight champ Chris Weidman was one of the first fighters to step up last year when Jones needed an opponent on short notice but was rebuffed based on his lack of name value. With a finish of Anderson Silva under his belt, and another potential victory over the beloved Brazilian on the horizon, Weidman might emerge as a very interesting option for Jones with another win or two in the bag. He’s big enough to fight at 205 pounds and has the skill to compete with any adversary. Taking out heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez might seem like an insurmountable task but keep in mind Jones has a frame perfectly suited for a little more bulk and a move up to heavyweight. Velasquez is also one of a number of high-level heavies who don’t clock in close to 265 pounds and rely more on speed/athleticism for victory than pure power. Velasquez’s stand-up and takedowns would obviously pose problems for “Bones” as they do any adversary, but Jones’ reach could be enough to keep Velasquez at bay and he’s obviously no slouch either in any department.
UFC light heavyweight champ gets by Jon Jones Alexander Gustafsson at with the same ease in which he’s dismantled past challengers the 26-year old will be in the unique position of only having a contender or two left to face before having arguably cleaned out the division. If that day comes, Jones will need to consider other options including a potential dip of his toes in the heavyweight division’s pool or other opponents not normally associated with light heavyweight. So who might “Bones” end up battling in 2014 and beyond if he continues on his current career path? (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 165