Top 10 challengers for Jon Jones

Cormier, Gustafsson among toughest competition for light heavyweight champ

Updated: April 27, 2013, 8:24 PM ET
By TR Foley | ESPN Insider
Jon JonesAl Bello/Getty ImagesLight heavyweight champ Jon "Bones" Jones -- just 25 years old -- has built quite an MMA legacy.

Let's be clear: Barring some cosmic alignment or devastating in-fight injury, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones isn't going to lose to Chael Sonnen on Saturday at UFC 159. At 25, Jones is still very young, but based on his body of work against top-flight opponents, one could make the argument that Jones already is one of the greatest mixed martial arts fighters of all time.

So looking past Sonnen (yes, we are looking well past him), who could Jones face? In this UFC season of "superfights," it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that challengers could emerge from three different weight classes: light heavyweight, middleweight and heavyweight.

That being said, there are parameters. Most of the heavyweights on the list are lighter fighters, closer to the 205-pound limit of light heavyweight than they are to the 260-pound maximum of heavyweight. So you won't be seeing the likes of Alistair Overeem or Frank Mir. Conversely, the middleweights are closer to light heavyweight in terms of "walk-around size," similar to what fans will see in the Jones-Sonnen fight on Saturday.

Here are the top 10 fighters who could challenge Jon Jones:

1. Daniel Cormier | heavyweight

Cormier

Cormier possesses the best wrestling skills in MMA, and against Jones he would need to use his spaghetti-noodle pummeling ability and upper-body positioning to control the long-armed champ against the cage. Once inside, Cormier could use short elbows and heavy fists to inflict massive damage with little risk. Should the fight hit the mat, Cormier -- as he proved against Frank Mir -- is capable of avoiding submissions and inflicting damage from the top. Though there have been rumors that Cormier is considering a move to light heavyweight, he normally competes at 230 pounds and it is not known if he could make 205. The matchup could be fought at a catch weight of 215 or 220.


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