If Jon Jones Vacates, there are plenty of great potential fights for the vacant hardware. On Thursday afternoon, word got out about Jon Jones’ latest legal transgressions. The reigning UFC 205 lb champion was arrested for a DWI and negligent use of a firearm. A precedent has been set for Jones where past issues with the law have caused him to vacate the belt (which was contested for between Daniel Cormier and Rumble Johnson). In the event that this happens again, here are great possible matchups for the light-heavyweight UFC throne.
Dominick Reyes vs Thiago Santos
These two men have a strong case for winning their respective fights against the GOAT Jon Jones. Reyes vs Santos is a very compelling fight even considering that both have been defeated in their last outings (each to the aforementioned Bones Jones). This is also a bout that Santos publically called for via his Twiter account. This fight would be the most organic option and seems to have the biggest approval rating among fans as well as pundits. I think it makes the most sense on a number of levels and tops this list for a reason.
Dominick Reyes vs Jan Blachowicz
Blachowicz has inserted himself into the contendership hierarchy in a big way. The nature of his stoppage victory over Corey Anderson in his last bout was exactly what he needed. That after a sleepy affair in his previous outing where he bested Jacare Souza via split decision. Anderson felt the Polish Power via devastating right hook and Blachowicz halted a man who had defeated him earlier in his career to gain a measure of redemption. Blachowicz was being discussed by some as a possible next challenger for Bones prior to all of the recent happenings.
A Reyes vs Blachowicz match wouldn’t exactly light the box office on fire but would certainly make sense and what would adhere to some type of athletic meritocracy.
I would be fairly surprised if Reyes found himself on the outside looking in on a vacant 205 lb title situation after the quality of his last performance. If that is the case though, here are some other options.
Anthony Smith vs Jan Blachowicz
This would be the only matchmaking permutation that puts two fighters on the heels of wins in their last outings. Both are top five with Smith last choking out multi-time title contender Alexander Gustafsson. Smith is a veteran with close to 50 fights who just seems to really be hitting his stride, optimizing things, and putting it all together at the highest level he has ever done it. Blachowicz is quite seasoned too with well over thirty bouts. This option is being presented with the presumption that Smith’s upcoming Glover fight gets canceled from COVID-19 pre-cautions.
Anthony Smith vs Thiago Santos II
The initial fight was over two years ago and in a different weight division (middleweight). Santos got the stoppage win sixty-three seconds into round two. Since then both men stepped up from 185 to 205. Each hit a stride never before seen in their careers. The direct history each have with each other, the similar career arcs, and the explosive fighting styles all make this a compelling bout on paper.This option is being presented with the presumption that Smith’s upcoming Glover fight gets canceled from COVID-19 pre-cautions.
Jan Blachowicz vs Thiago Santos II
This fight could represent redemption for Jan Blachowicz. He suffered his last loss to Santos and has since gone on a three-fight win streak. Santos halted him less than forty seconds into round three. This would vault the Brazilian knockout artist into his title shot against Jon Jones at UFC 239. If Santos can go 2-0 and get back in the win column against Blachowicz, then he deserves to call himself world champion. In lieu of Jone possibly being out of the picture for a while.
If you dug “If Jon Jones Vacates”, peep my article on possible next opponents for Fedor.