Jon "Bones" Jones is already in rematch mode after wiping out the rest of the UFC Light Heavyweight ranks, and assuming he gets past Dan Henderson in September, he'll be left without any legit competition in the division.
The 25-year-old beat No. 3-ranked Rashad Evans in April, and he needed just 12 minutes to dismantle No. 4-ranked Mauricio "Shogun" Rua with knees and elbow strikes last year.
Jones also holds victories over each of the fighters ranked No. 5 through seven in the division, as he crushed Quinton Jackson at UFC 135, submitted Ryan Bader at UFC 126, and choked out Lyoto Machida at UFC 140.
A fight against 33-year-old Forrest Griffin, who is currently ranked No. 8 in the division, would likely be a major mismatch at this point in both fighters' careers.
In the last four years, Griffin has just one victory over anyone not named Tito Ortiz, and he may be getting close to the point in his career where he's more a gatekeeper than true contender.
Jones vs Gustafsson or Mousasi?
That takes us all the way down to No. 9 and 10 in the light heavyweight ranks to find a legit 205-pounder that would be competitive, on paper at least, against Jones.
25-year-old Alexander Gustafsson, currently ranked No. 9 in the division, is riding a five-fight win streak, and he is only UFC light heavyweight in the top ten that is taller than Jones. A fighter that can negate Jones' height and reach advantage is intriguing, so this is a fight that could be in the works someday in the near future.
Gustafsson needs to tally a couple more wins under the UFC banner before he gets a title shot, as most of his opponents thus far were ranked between No. 25 through 50.
Another interesting matchup down the road for Jones at light heavyweight is Gegard Mousasi, a former phenom who has been on the UFC's radar for years.
Now 26 years old, Mousasi is finally fighting under the Zuffa banner in the Strikeforce promotion. He hasn't lost in over two years, and he's unbeaten in his last five.
Still Some Interesting Fights Left For Jones At Light Heavyweight
To sum it up, there are still some interesting matches for Jones in the light heavyweight ranks. I would like to see him square off against Gustafsson or Mousasi sometime in 2013, rather than go into full on rematch mode with another tilt against the likes of Rashad Evans or Mauricio Rua.
I believe Jones will move up to heavyweight eventually, but not until 2014. "He can make 205," UFC President Dana White said of Jones in an MMAJunkie.com interview. "This is where he needs to stay. Once he cleans out a division and [expletive] starts getting a little old and stale, then maybe he makes that move to heavyweight."
"The guy eventually is going to naturally have to go to heavyweight because he's so big," White added. "He's 24 years old, and as he gets older, it's going to be harder to cut that weight. It's going to be harder to stay as lean as he is, and it'll just naturally happen.
"If I was him, and I'm not his coach or advisor or anything else, I'd wait until that naturally happens. Get a lot of experience at 205 before you go up there to heavyweight."
Jones said he wanted to move up to heavyweight this year, but the UFC brass didn't want him to. "I figured beating beating Henderson, and Rashad, there will be a period where I'm going to figure out who I fight next," Jones said in a mixedmartialarts.com interview. "And during that period, at the end of 2012, I requested a heavyweight, a top-10 heavyweight … just for the fans ... Dana and Lorenzo did not think that was going to best for me to do right now. They want me to continue in the Light heavyweight division."
When should Jon Jones move up to heavyweight? Directly after a win over Dan Henderson? In 2014? Never? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of MMA. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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