After dispatching of Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC 235, some would argue that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has cleaned out his division once again, but that simply isn’t the case. There are still a number of quality fighters who haven’t got their a crack at Jones and his belt yet, and with Jones saying he wants to stay busy and fight more often this year, a few of them will soon get their chance to fight him. Below are the fresh contenders ranked in order of who is most likely to beat Jones to least.
1. Thiago Santos
UFC president Dana White has said he’d like to see Santos be next in line to fight Jones, and he is the fighter who has the best chance of beating the champ. The reason why is obvious: his pure one-punch KO power. Santos just brutally knocked out the durable Jan Blachowicz and also knocked out Jimi Manuwa and Eryk Anders since moving up to light heavyweight last September. The win over Blachowicz moved him into a tie for second place with Anthony Johnson and Anderson Silva, just one behind Vitor Belfort for most knockout wins in UFC history. Santos is known for going broke, and will bring the fight to Jones. Of anyone on this list, he has the best chance to beat Jones because of his special ability to touch the chins of his opponents and put them to sleep.
2. Johnny Walker
Like Santos, Walker possesses the pure KO power that could give Jones problems. Since joining the UFC last fall, Walker has picked up three first-round knockout wins over Khalil Rountree, Justin Ledet and Misha Cirkunov. Like Santos, he has that special knockout power that can put anyone’s lights out. Walker still needs more seasoning in the Octagon and lacks the experience that Santos has, so he has to be ranked just behind him, but one day Walker will get his chance to fight Jones and he’ll have a chance to knock him out when he does so.
3. Dominick Reyes
The undefeated Reyes is an emerging threat in the UFC light heavyweight division. He’s looked incredible in the UFC, going 4-0 with wins over Ovince Saint-Preux, Jared Cannonier, Jeremy Kimball and Joachim Christensen. It sure seems like Reyes is going to be a problem for anyone in the light heavyweight division, but before even getting a chance to fight Jones he needs to fight Volkan Oezdemir and beat him. His performance in that fight will tell us a lot about Reyes’ chances to conquer the UFC light heavyweight division.
4. Volkan Oezdemir
Though he’s coming off of back-to-back losses to Daniel Cormier and Smith, Oezdemir is another light heavyweight with ridiculous KO power who could give Jones issues if he catches him on the chin. However, his ground game was badly exposed in those fights and realistically, he doesn’t have a great chance of beating Jones. But that one-punch KO power will always give him the old “puncher’s chance,” so there’s that at least.
5. Corey Anderson
If you asked Ali Abdel-Aziz, he would tell you his client Anderson would run through Jones. I don’t see it that way. Although Anderson is an improving fighter who has a very solid wrestling game and evolving striking, he has been knocked out a number of times in the UFC and the odds of him hanging in there with Jones seem slim. Anderson can beat most of the other light heavyweights just because he has better cardio than most at 205lbs, but Jones would be an absolute nightmare matchup for Anderson if they ever fought.
Of the fighters listed above, who do you think has the best chance to beat Jones?