2012 MMA crystal ball: Betting odds for Jon Jones if he moves to heavyweight


Jon Jones still has much to accomplish at light heavyweight, but as 2012 moves along there could be more and more talk of the 6-foot-4, 24-year-old seeking fights outside the division.

It's very unlikely to happen in 2012, but what if Jones moved to heavyweight?

Adam Hill penned a thought provoking piece for ESPN.com (premium access required). Hill spoke with Las Vegas and off-shore oddsmakers to ask what the odds would be if Jones locked horns with any of the top five heavyweights in the world.

The guys who set the numbers were split on their opinion of a Jones move up. Rob Akers, who used to set the numbers for the Venetian Sports Book, agreed with off-shore bookmaker Bovado (formerly Bodogsports.net) and said Jones would be a sizable dog against the top big boys in the world (featured odds in the graphic).

Bovada's expert Kevin Bradley makes UFC heavyweight champ the biggest favorite against Jones.

"Junior dos Santos' striking power makes him a significant favorite against Jones here," said Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley. "In order for Jones to have a shot at winning, he would have to take him to the ground, basically eliminating his boxing from the equation. Unfortunately, for Jones all fights start standing up and Dos Santos has an 85 percent takedown defense."

Louis D'Andrilli, who sets the odds at Cantor Gaming (runs the books at The Venetian, The Hard Rock, M Resort, The Tropicana, and in the future The Palms) in Las Vegas, completely disagrees with Akers and Bradley. He says Jones would be a small favorite against the heavyweights. I don't believe that would be the case, but I'm a lot closer to siding with D'Andrilli.

Jones walks around at 225. His older brother Arthur, a defensive lineman with the Baltimore Ravens, is 6-3, 313. His younger brother, Chandler is a 6-5, 251-pound defensive lineman at Syracuse.

Jon's build is different than his brothers because he lacks bulk on his legs, but there's little doubt that he could pack on some extra muscle and walk into a heavyweight fight at 235. If he retained most of his athleticism and speed, is Jones really at a disadvantage against a 240-pound JDS or 244-pound Cain Velasquez (he was overweight for his last fight)? Jones is pictured next to the former UFC champ Velasquez. Does he look that much smaller?

This isn't about what I think or what Akers, Bradley and D'Andrilli this of Jones' actual shot to win these fights. The number is set to pull in two-way action. Once the public saw Jones carrying 235 pounds very easily, momentum would build that he has a good shot against the heavyweights. Therefore, money would come in on the smaller, more athletic fighter.

Looking for another light heavyweight who made the jump? We already have the test case in Randy Couture. Sure, the heavyweight division is better now than it's ever been, but the 220-pound Couture more than held his own against the heavyweights he faced from 2007-2009. Couture never appeared to be at a strength disadvantage against Tim Sylvia (263), Gabriel Gonzaga (252), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (231) or  Lesnar (265).

Lesnar might be the toughest nut to crack for Jones. The former WWE star is super athletic and would likely outweigh Jones by 40 pounds. Would a gameplan of staying outside and trying to pick apart Lesnar be enough for Jones? Possibly, but if Lesnar ever got Jones in the clinch, it's hard imagine the lanky fighter staying on his feet.

Let's give it some time. Jones could have some very tough tests to  get through at 205 with Rashad Evans, Phil Davis, Dan Henderson, and possibly Muhammed Lawal down the road. All four have excellent wrestling backgrounds. Evans, Henderson and Lawal have big power too. No one here is saying that he destroys all four of those fighters, but if he does, the giants of MMA will welcome a Jones climb into the heavyweight division. So will fight fans.

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