With the sudden and shocking news of Champion Jon Jones’ intention to relinquish the Light Heavyweight Championship due to public battles with UFC President Dana White, the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division is currently in a state of chaos.
Let’s examine what led up to this announcement by Jones and where the Light Heavyweight division can go from here.
Jon Jones made the announcement on March 31st, 2020 via his Twitter account that he would be relinquishing the Light Heavyweight Championship by simply stating; “To the light heavyweight title Veni, vidi, vici.” This announcement comes as a response to the public back and forth between Jones and UFC President Dana White resulting from contract negotiations regarding a Jon Jones/Francis N’Gannou super fight. As soon as the idea for this fight was brought about, fans instantly began to beg for it to happen.
The story turns sour when Jones and White began sharing their sides of how the negotiations went. White claims that Jones asked for “Deontay Wilder money” siting the former Boxing Heavyweight Champions’ near $30 million payouts in his second bout with Tyson Fury. Jones claims that there were never even specific numbers put on the table. However, Jones did say that he expected an increase in pay because he would be making his debut at Heavyweight and it would be against one of, if not, the scariest fighters in the division.
White took to social media to public bash the Light Heavyweight Champion and his supposed outlandish demands. Jones responded by calling White a liar, saying he would relinquish the Light Heavyweight Championship, and finally requesting his release from the company.
Whether or not Jones is serious about relinquishing the Light Heavyweight Championship is still to be determined as this story is still very new.
However, if he does, there must be a contingency plan in place for the UFC should they need to crown a new champion at 205 pounds.
In a division that already had some questions as to who should be the number one contender, it will not be easy to pick two competitors to battle it out for the championship. Jon Jones himself suggested Jan Blachowicz versus Dominick Reyes be the fight to determine the new champion. While this may be the most likely scenario as Jan is coming off of a knockout win over Corey Anderson followed by a call out to Jones, and Reyes most recently lost to Jones in a fight many thought he won, this leaves a few contenders on the outside looking in. Thiago Santos lost to Jones via split decision on one good leg in his last bout. Santos is almost fully recovered from his injuries and is looking to get back in the title picture.
Veteran Glover Teixeira is coming off of a win against the always dangerous Anthony Smith and he is now angling for a title shot. Despite losses in their most recent fights, Corey Anderson and Anthony Smith are still in the conversation as to who should challenge for the title in the future as well. The UFC has plenty of options should Jones actually relinquish his title. Here is what they should do.
In the cases of Corey Anderson and Anthony Smith, they will both need at least one win to be back in the title picture. And while the UFC could put them against one another, they should realistically challenge some other ranked contenders in the Light Heavyweight division and let the four fighters at the top settle this mess. It would be easy to say to organize a four-man title tournament to crown a new champion, but the UFC will not want to put one their most prestigious championships on hold while these fights work themselves out.
The solution? The solution is the fight the current champion suggested with a twist.
The UFC should book Jan versus Reyes, but it should be for the Interim Light Heavyweight Championship. This way, both Jan and Reyes have something to do without potentially relinquishing their status as top contenders, the UFC can try to work this issue out with Jones, and it keeps the division moving.
If the issue with Jones is resolved, he has a clear next opponent when the titles will be unified. If the issue with Jones is not resolved, the UFC could do one of two things. They could simply promote the winner of Jan/Reyes to the Undisputed Light Heavyweight Champion, or they could pit the interim titleholder against the winner of Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos, which should happen regardless.
The logic behind this fight is also simple; Santos is coming off of a gruesome knee injury and should not be put against a champion in his first fight back, and Teixeira probably wouldn’t be able to land a title shot right now without another win anyway.
Regardless of the outcome between Jones and the UFC, the Light Heavyweight division is in good hands with its top contenders.
Who do you think should challenge for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship?
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