Jon Jones is once again ruling over the UFC light heavyweight division with an iron fist, and could conceivably do so for some time.
That being said, there is a currently a tidal wave of new blood in the UFC light heavyweight division, and therefore some fresh and compelling champions on the table for the light heavyweight champ.
One of those challenges is Brazilian knockout artist Thiago Santos, who is expected to be the next man in line for Jon Jones.
Speaking on The MMA Hour, Jones’ coach Brandon Gibson gave his take on Santos as a potential title challenger. While he recognizes that the Brazilian is incredibly dangerous, he’s not sure he presents any new challenges for Jones.
“He’s been looking great,” Gibson said of Santos (transcript via MMA Fighting). “He’s a powerful, very powerful 205-pounder. I’m sure that’s something that intrigues a lot of fans and I like that there’s some fresh blood in the light heavyweight division.
“When Jon started it was kind of like the older reign of some of the Pride legends. The Shoguns, the Rampage Jacksons, the Vitors, there were so many of these legends for us to chase after.
“Thiago brings a different kind of power. I don’t think he’s as polished or refined as a Shogun or a Rampage, I think he’s probably a little closer to Anthony Smith’s style.”
Brandon Gibson also gave his take on surging contender Johnny Walker as a potential Jon Jones opponent. He certainly seems to be impressed by the flashy Brazilian.
“That kid’s impressive, he’s explosive,” Gibson said. “I saw a really impressive stat that he’s only thrown 30 strikes or something in his combined UFC career, so his knockout-to-strike ratio is like, 1-to-9. That’s impressive. We’ve definitely got our eye on him. He’s charismatic, he’s fun, he has a swagger to him, he’s creative. That’s a fight that is definitely on the horizon, I’m sure.”
While it seems likely that Jon Jones attempts light heavyweight title defenses opposite both Santos and Walker in the near future, it’s arguable that his most compelling option exists one division north, at heavyweight: a fight with Brock Lesnar.
“I think, for the casuals that a guy like Brock brings to the sport, it will be super high numbers and a high payday,” Gibson said of a fight between Jones and Lesnar. “I think for the challenge, just the size of the man that Brock is, I think that’s something that intrigues Jon. Brock will bring something different.
“It would be fun, it would be intriguing, but as far as, is Brock the most polished mixed martial artist that we’ve ever competed against and what is our gameplan gonna have to be and all these things we’re going to have to watch out for and train for — no, I don’t think it’s that.”
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/10/2019.