Switching divisions is becoming the norm in today’s mixed martial arts.
From UFC featherweight king Conor McGregor setting his sights on the lightweight scene, to former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones packing on muscle for an inevitable run at heavyweight, fighters are beginning to test their career longevity over multiple weight classes.
It’s quite the accomplishment for any top-level contender in search of greener pastures, whether moving up in weight or dropping down.
One of the most recent divisional defectors was Myles Jury, an ultra-talented veteran capable of testing the waters atop the 145-pound division. As a former lightweight standout who left the roster behind following a unanimous decision loss to current title contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone back at UFC 182, Jury possesses serious potential heading into 2016.
With some of the best MMA grappling south of 170 pounds, paired with an evolving standup game that left Takanori Gomi for dead, “Fury” should already be considered a top-10 threat as a featherweight. His aforementioned defeat at the hands of Cerrone was Jury’s first loss of his entire career. He had accumulated 15 professional wins, 12 finishes and six appearances under the bright lights of the Octagon prior to that fateful night.
Now, as a premier rebound candidate who is on the cusp of redefining his game by becoming the bigger fighter, Jury will be thrust into the fiery pits at 145. Guys like Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Max Holloway, Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens will be welcoming the ex-lightweight with open arms.
Not to mention the Irish superstorm that awaits everybody atop the hill.
So what can expect from Jury in arguably the most diabolical weight class around? How close to a title shot is the former TUF standout?
Surprisingly, Jury may be extremely close to contending for a championship. Many stars are beginning to align for the No. 9-ranked lightweight, including a passing of the torch from Aldo to McGregor. And even though “The Notorious” has made it known that he wants to contend for the 155-pound strap, there’s no indication that he can’t defend his featherweight title at least twice a year.
With time on his side, unlike many other seasoned veterans clinging to relevancy, Jury could easily find himself fighting for the divisional title within the next two years. That may seem like a long time, but in reality, it’s not that long at all.
— FOX Sports: PROcast (@PROcast) December 9, 2015
Currently scheduled to fight No. 7-ranked featherweight contender Charles Oliveira at UFC on FOX 17 this Saturday in Orlando, Florida, Jury has a chance to bust onto the 145-pound scene in fashion. A decisive performance opposite one of the most promising young names in the division could easily result in him stealing the Brazilian’s spot in line.
But as we bury our heads deeper into the future, a win for Jury on Dec. 19 could position him to meet two fighters ranked within the top 5 sometime in 2016. That’s fairly impressive, especially considering one of those names would be Aldo, Edgar or Mendes (unless McGregor unexpectedly gets dethroned).
Three victories in a row, a few highlight-reel finishes and a friendly push in the back by the UFC could all lend a hand in Jury getting a shot at the featherweight title as soon as early 2017. People may be overlooking the growing 27-year-old moving forward, but what would his critics have said if he got past Cerrone back in January?