MMA Live‘s Franklin McNeil put it best in a Twitter message to Jon Jones in which he wrote, “You know you’ve made it when everyone is trying to figure out who you should fight next.”
UFC president Dana White is on the record as saying he does not want to rush the 22-year-old light-heavyweight into title contention. If Jones can win at least three more fights in the next year, White will grant him a title shot, and as far as who’s next for “Bones,” there’s plenty of intrigue and at least five opponents capable of testing him.
Griffin recovered from an embarrassing loss to Anderson Silva by avenging a loss to Tito Ortiz by capturing a split decision. While Griffin’s resume is dotted with notable losses – Silva, Rashad Evans, Keith Jardine – he’s also defeated Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson. Throughout his career Griffin (17-6) has competed against the best and come out on top more often than not. The former light-heavyweight king faces Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 114. If a victory doesn’t buff his hopes for a second shot, his heart and big-fight experience will give Jones a couple of things to think about.
(Minotoro demolishes Cane.)
Little Nog (18-3) became a PRIDE superstar, but in the states he’s best known as the twin brother of Antônio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. In Japan, Rogerio fought and defeated Dan Henderson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Alistair Overeem, Guy Mezger and Vladimir Matyushenko. His UFC debut was one for the ages, as he needed only 1:56 to drop Luiz Cane with a left hook and ground-and-pound his way to victory. A win over Griffin in will boost his American reputation instantaneously.
(Bader crumbled Jardine.)
The winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 in the light-heavyweight division, Bader (11-0) has showed no signs of slowing down. He’s 3-0 in the UFC, the last a third-round TKO of Jardine at UFC 110. Bader’s size and brute strength alone would give Jones problems. He’d also enter the fight trained by new management at the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Lion’s Den MMA academy and a chip on his shoulder over the talk on how Jones, and not he, is the UFC’s finest light-heavyweight prospect.
(Silva and Evans trade.)
Silva’s MMA record is 14-2, but was truly dominated only once by Lyoto Machida (KO, 1). His last fight was a loss to Rashad Evans during which late in the third round he inexplicably let Evans off the hook. Silva reportedly entered that bout with a back injury, but has recovered enough to be penciled into UFC 116 July 3. At last look, Jones’ fight calendar is empty.
Cane is 10–2–1, but needs to redeem himself from the loss to Little Nog and quickly. Being TKO’ed was bad enough. Receiving a medical suspension due to a right orbital fracture added to the embarrassment. Cane returns to action at UFC 114 against newcomer Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate, a talented French Muay Thai specialist.
FIGHT! Fans: Who do you think Jones should fight next?