UFC 192: The Battle To Get Out Of Jon Jones’ Shadow

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UFC 192 is set to hit Houston, Texas tomorrow (Saturday October 3, 2015) with a light-heavyweight title clash headlining the action. As per usual with a title on the line, the stakes are as high as ever for the two lead protagonists. There is one defining factor that rules over all the rest though, and it’s the former UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Current boss Daniel Cormier will face Alexander Gustafsson in his first defense of the strap he beat Anthony Johnson for at UFC 187, but consider this-every light-heavyweight fighting on the card at UFC 192 has lost to Jon Jones, further to that, ‘Bones’ has beaten the current champ and six of the remaining top 10 competitors at 205 pounds.

The main event is being dubbed as ‘The future of the UFC light-heavyweight division’ by the promotion, whereas in fact it’s just a continued battle to escape the shadow of Jon Jones, which looms now more than ever. With Jones escaping jail time in his New Mexico hit & run case this past week, the chances of Jones making a return have increased ten fold.

If the formerly dominant champion does in fact return, you can bet your bottom dollar he’s getting an immediate title shot, it’s a no-brainer. With wins over both Gus and Cormier, the latter with a particularly vicious rivalry preceding, there’s not even any groundwork to lay for the bout, it sells itself.

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The prodigal champion of the division, returning to face a former opponent that took the belt in his absence. With all the criticism ‘DC’ has faced since taking the seat at the top of the division, you have to feel bad for the guy. Yes, he lost to Jones, but he had no say in the situation that unravelled after UFC 182, how could he? On the opposite side of that coin is the cold hard truth, Jones’ hold on the division is still as tight as it was before, just this tie it’s from a distance.

It’s a fact that simply cannot be ignored, but it’s by no means discrediting the current or potentially new champion after UFC 192. Even with a win for either man, we all know the immediate questions after the Houston based event will be about Jon Jones, it would be foolish to think anything else. As unfair as it seems, Cormier, Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua, Ryan Bader and Rampage Jackson all fall under that unwanted blanket.

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Whoever holds the belt when Jones returns next year (purely hypothetically) will be destined for a showdown with the fallen angel of the UFC light-heavyweight division. But is that a bad thing? Surely the need to prove one’s self in a sport like MMA is so great that only the top talent will do. No one likes to see a squash match, and asking any of those guys if they want to be the one to fight Jones on his return would render the same answer.

That said, there is the underlying downplaying of the current champion to consider, and it must get tiring. Tucking up with the belt at night is likely comforting, but there’s always going to be that little Jon Jones on your shoulder everywhere you go. The only way to get rid of that unwanted companion is to defeat the greatest 205-pound fighter of all time. Easier said than done.