EXCLUSIVE | Coach: Jon Jones has no plan to ‘move up to heavyweight’ anytime soon

Jon Jones, UFC 239

Jon Jones is once again the light heavyweight champion. He defeated Alexander Gustafsson by third-round TKO at UFC 232 to reclaim the belt.

Following the fight, Jones called out Daniel Cormier to fight him at light heavyweight — though he was subsequently booked to fight Anthony Smith at UFC 235 on March 2.

Smith is on a three-fight winning streak since moving up to light heavyweight, with wins against Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, and Volkan Oezdemir, and will now have his toughest fight to date at UFC 235.

While some the oddsmakers seem to be sleeping on Anthony Smith, Jon Jones’ coach Mike Winkeljohn sees the streaking contender as a dangerous test.

“Everybody wants to fight the champ so you can’t blame those guys, they are all tough as nails. Anthony Smith seems like he is next in line,” Winkeljohn said to BJPENN.com. “Anthony is a guy who has some skills, and he is tough. I’ve seen him take some shots and comeback. He is a tough young man and I like his trainers. He has a good camp behind him and I think that would be a great fight for Jon Jones.”

Jon Jones’ quick turnaround came as a bit of surprise to some. However, according to Winkeljohn, that has always been the plan since Jones came back from suspension. Back when Jones was first the champion, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to see him fight three or four times a year, and that is the plan in 2019 for Jones.

“That is what Jon wants to get back to,” Winkeljohn said. “Jon came back in here and said he wants to do that, he wants to just jump on this thing and go. He was already back to training, that tells you how much Jon wants to fight.”

Jon Jones’ busy 2019 starts against Smith at UFC 235. If he gets by Smith, some fans are hoping he’ll move up to the heavyweight division, perhaps to rematch Daniel Cormier. Yet according to Winkeljohn, that doesn’t seem like it will happen as Jones wants to stay at light heavyweight for the foreseeable future.

“I say somewhere down the line,” he said. “Somewhere in the future. Jon, I think will just continue to clean out the light heavyweight division for the moment. I don’t think there is a plan to move up to heavyweight at the moment. It is all about the money and the right fights. That is something Jon, his manager, and the team would discuss. I think he stays at light heavyweight for a while, keeps cleaning house, and puts the fear of God in everybody.”

That can all start on March 2 when he fights Smith. The plan for the fight is simple.

Get another finish and we can all see the best pound-for-pound fighter is back and destroying people,” Winkeljohn said. “It is going to be great.”

Do you think we’ll ever see Jon Jones move up to heavyweight?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 1/8/2019.