Top 10 challengers for Jon Jones
Cormier, Gustafsson among toughest competition for light heavyweight champ
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 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.
To see the rest of the top 10 challengers for Jon Jones, become an Insider today.
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE MMA HEADLINES
- UFC: Hunt, Silva fight to a draw in brutal slugfest
- Evans-Cormier to headline UFC 170 in February
- MacDonald, Maia to battle in UFC 170 bout
- Jones to defend title vs. Teixeira in March
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
MMA Insider: Must reads
In case you missed them, here are some must reads articles from MMA Insider.
Foley: Jose Aldo vs Ben Henderson Read
Foley: Jon Jones vs Cain Velasquez Read
Foley: Georges St-Pierre vs Anderson Silva Read
Bold MMA predictions Read
Fights that must happen Read
Challengers for Jon Jones Read
All-time champs Read
Fighters on UFC bubble Read
Pro athletes in MMA Read
Non-UFC fighters Read
Ex-Strikeforce fighters Read
MMA10: All-Time Middleweights Read
MMA10: All-Time Light Heavyweights Read
MMA10: All-Time Heavyweights Read
MMA10: Finishers Read
MMA10: Comeback fighters Read
MMA10: Top strikers Read
MMA10: Top wrestlers Read
NFL? NBA? MMA?: Which non-MMA athletes might make good fighters? Read
Building the perfect fighter: T.R. Foley creates the ultimate 'Frankenfighter' who could beat Jon Jones. Read