UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones may be nursing an ailing arm, but it's giving him some time off as the promotion tries to find the next contender to face him.
Jones defeated Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 by fourth-round submission, but suffered the ill effects of a first-round armbar attempt by the Brazilian. While Belfort didn't finish the submission, Jones still has the lingering injury that is awaiting a final diagnosis from a doctor.
All signs are pointing towards no major injury, but Jones is resting right now while the rest of the light heavyweight division sorts itself out.
“The arm hurts and he's waiting for the doctor to see it and give him some news on it. As soon as we get some information, hopefully we'll be able to share it with everybody,” Jones' manager Malki Kawa told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
As Jones awaits the final word on his arm, he's still curious about who he might be facing next. The logical choice would seem to be Dan Henderson, who he was supposed to fight at UFC 151 before Henderson fell off the card due to injury.
But UFC president Dana White has stated that current plans are for Henderson to meet former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida next instead. If that's the case then it leaves Jones without a clear cut No. 1 contender that would be ready in the next six months.
“Jon actually asked me yesterday, he said ‘who's next?' and I was like ‘you know what, I really don't have the answer either. I don't know.' Henderson was the guy. I guess he was the No. 1 contender before all this and then obviously he got hurt,” said Kawa.
“It's not frustrating. You know what it is? When you fight that much, that frequent, he did fight a lot last year. He took out four guys all top contenders, and then this year he took our Rashad (Evans), who I think is a top five pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He beats him and then he goes off and beats another legend in Vitor. I just think there are going to be some new contenders coming up. There's going to be that little gap right now and then you'll see three or four guys be in line.”
The top of the prospect list would appear to be Alexander Gustafsson, who has a chance to solidify his name as a contender when he faces Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC on Fox 5 in early December. There's also Brazilian phenom Glover Teixeira, but with only his second UFC fight approaching, he would still seem to be a few fights away from challenging somebody like Jon Jones.
For now, Jones' life will be making sure his arm gets back to 100-percent, and playing the “wait and see” game as the UFC tries to find a viable contender for his return in 2013.
“He kind of cleared it out and now there's this second wave of guys coming through and it brings up some interesting prospects,” Kawa stated.
When Jones fights next, he will look to tie Tito Ortiz's record for UFC light heavyweight title defenses, which currently stands at five in a row.
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