Twirling thumbs while vehemently debating about fights that will likely never come to fruition has become a common pastime for even the most knowledgeable MMA fans.
Think of all of the time spent bickering over pipe dream fights like Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre and Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino vs. Ronda Rousey. These fights have been analyzed more thoroughly than a random package addressed to the White House.
Watching the same fighter dominate in an inferior weight class year in and year out can become monotonous for fans. As with any sport, the allure of MMA for most individuals is a chance to witness the best athletes from all around the world come together and compete in the same cage. We want to see the best fights possible, even if it involves fighters from different weight classes.
But there are usually towering obstacles that keep those fights out of the octagon and stuck on the debate table.
Fighters typically aren’t willing to move up in weight and risk losing. Winning is everything in MMA. One loss and you’re treated like an overrated bum in this sport. You’re only as good as your last fight, and most fighters would pass on being significantly undersized against the king or queen of the next division. Not everyone is a B.J. Penn or Randy Couture.
Well except for maybe Chris Weidman.
The reigning UFC middleweight champion has no qualms about moving up in weight and solidifying his legendary status. During a recent Q&A on Periscope, via MMAdigest, Weidman claimed he was probably two fights away from moving up to light heavyweight and challenging former UFC champion Jon Jones:
“I got to focus on Luke [Rockhold] and the winner of [Ronaldo] Jacare [Souza] and Yoel Romero, and then after that, we’ll start talking about Jon Jones and 205 and anybody else who’s good up there. I’m going to say my future does eventually take me to 205 — not because of weight cutting at middleweight — but just because I think I’m running out of guys to beat at middleweight.”
The proposed superfight between Jones and Weidman isn’t a pipe dream or table talk. It’s a champion vs. champion fight that has a legitimate chance of coming to fruition. Champion vs. champion — to think, we haven’t had one of those in the UFC since Penn moved up to welterweight and challenged St-Pierre.
Winning is the only hurdle left for both Weidman and Jones.
Daniel Cormier is currently the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion, but Jones, who was recently reinstated in the UFC after being stripped of the title and suspended in April, is expected to receive an immediate title shot at an undetermined date.
Considering how tough the first fight was, it’s already a foregone conclusion that a rematch between Jones and Cormier will be nasty and tightly-contested.
Weidman, on the other hand, has a huge problem on his hands in December when he meets Rockhold. If he manages to get past Rockhold, Jacare or Romero will be next in line. Sounds easy enough — right? Not even veiled sarcasm can minimize the Herculean efforts that await both Jones and Weidman.
But if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on both men staying undefeated and the superfight getting the green light somewhere down the line. Jones has talked about the possibility of moving up to heavyweight and challenging the champion in that division, but it’s likely that he sticks around at 205 pounds for at least two or three more fights.
It’s hard not to like Jones’ chances in any fight. He’s considered the best fighter on the planet for a reason. Weidman certainly has the skills to be competitive and possibly even steal a round or two from Jones, but the jury is still out on the middleweight champ.
We have seen Jones tested in the fire against some of light heavyweight’s finest, but outside of a decent challenge from Lyoto Machida, Weidman has been on cruise control at middleweight. If he dominates Rockhold, it would bolster his stock against Jones significantly.
Weidman has fought legends and former UFC champions, but he hasn’t fought anyone quite like Jon Jones. Not to mention, Jones will be even more motivated on his road to redemption.
Now is not a good time to be Jones’ opponent.