Put Jon Jones on the Fast Track

Image from UFC.com

As a long time proponent of using the slow track for developing fighters, I am willing to admit when an exception should be made.  Jon Jones is so uniquely talented that I see virtually no reason to put him on the slow path to stardom.  He's been in the featured fight of the last two shows he's been on, and on both occasions he put on what I consider the performance of his career.  He has nerves of steel and the skills to back it up; there's no reason to put him against someone like Matyushenko or Ryan Bader at this point.  

The usual case for the slow track goes something like this:  fighter X obviously has the potential to be a top fighter, but he's not there yet, and there's no reason to rush his progression when there are so many holes in his game.  Phil Davis is a good example of a fighter who should be on the slow track.

Jon Jones has the skills to be competitive with just about anyone at Light Heavyweight.  He dominated Vera in the clinch, took him down at will, and maintained his composure after taking a nasty illegal shot.  His progression as a fighter reminds me of Georges St. Pierre: he has the flashy standing skills to win, but he's going to use his wrestling to keep people off balance and control the pace of his fights.  

So who is next for Jon Jones?  I say put him against the winner of Forrest Griffin vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.  I fully expect Nogueira to win that fight, and a Jones-Nogueira fight would really give us the answers about both men in 2010 that we're all looking for.  It would also establish a legitimate number one contender for the Light Heavyweight title for the year-end show, once the whole Shogun/Machida/Rampage/Evans situation sorts itself out.

It's time to get Jon Jones in the mix at 205.  If he does lose to a top fighter like Shogun or Nogueira, he is still very young and has plenty of time to rebuild himself. 

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