Could Jon Jones cause many fighters to cut down to 185 pounds? Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
It's a question that may be premature. After all, Jon Jones secured his status as the UFC's top light heavyweight in the world just last night. But we've been down similar paths before with other dominant champions. Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, and the bevy of enormous fighters in the upper reaches of the UFC's heavyweight division have all had a profound effect on the rest of the division. It may take a year before these debates become realities. Those realities, however, are very real possibilities if Jones can continue defending his belt in impressive fashion.
What exactly am I talking about? Cutting weight and fighting at an optimum weight class. With Jon Jones, we're talking about the migration of your puffier light heavyweights to the somewhat stagnant middleweight ranks. The UFC's buyout of Strikeforce will eventually create some intriguing fights for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the future, but the prospect of guys like Rashad Evans and Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua at 185 lbs. is enticing.
I won't focus on Rashad Evans as he still has a chance to prove to the world that Jones is human. 'Shogun', on the other, is a fighter I've always felt would benefit, especially in the cardio department, with a drop to middleweight. It's a tough proposition, however, since he's dominated nearly every single opponent put in front of him at 205. If he happens to build a string of victories and fall at the hands of Jon Jones a second time, the difficulty of selling that idea to him won't be so hard.
It's unclear who else in the division would be willing to make the cut. We do know that there will be others, perhaps many others who see the belt as an unobtainable object of their desire. Unfortunately, Anderson Silva isn't exactly a cakewalk either. He does, however, present a different challenge altogether, and Chael Sonnen proved that he has weaknesses that can be exploited.
Obviously, this isn't something that's going to happen tomorrow. Fighters aren't going to run away from Jones at such an early stage in his progression to becoming a legend of the sport. It may have an effect on some of the rising prospects in the division who feel their goals might be more easily attained in a weight class that doesn't feature a killer like Jon Jones. Silva isn't getting any younger, and he may have a couple of years left before he exits. Jones may still be at the top of the weight class at that point in time.
It's an interesting discussion, one that I would love to hear the community debate. Will Jon Jones create an environment in the UFC's light heavyweight division that causes a mass exodus to 185? Do you forsee that happening if he can dominate the division for a couple of years? Who are the fighters you see making that cut?