LAS VEGAS – With Jon Jones having successfully defended his newly reacquired light heavyweight title against Anthony Smith at UFC 235, an old familiar refrain kicked back up.
Namely, what comes next for Jones? Will it be a move to heavyweight, which he has flirted with off and on over the years? Or does he keep defending the title against the new crop of contenders that have been developing during his time away?
If UFC president Dana White has his way, it’ll be the latter. In fact White even has a name circled that he thinks would give Jones a run for his money.
“I love the Thiago Santos fight,” White said at the post-fight media conference. “I love that fight. I would love to see him versus Jon Jones.”
Jones scores a unanimous decision over Smith on Saturday night, dominating much of the action for all five rounds. One of the names being floated around afterwards was current WWE star and former UFC heavyweight champion, Brock Lesnar, who has hinted at a return to the UFC in the near future.
“The Brock fight is Cormier’s,” White said, when asked about a potential Jones versus Lesnar bout. “When Cormier’s healthy, that’s his fight. And plus Brock has WWE obligations right now, or believe me he’d be calling me. So, [the Santos fight] is the fight to make.”
White was quick to point out that he’s not even sure Jones wants to make the leap to heavyweight right away, especially after coming back from multiple suspensions.
“I don’t know — he doesn’t seem to excited to go to heavyweight,” he said.
Since a Feb. 2018 victory over Anthony Smith, the 35-year-old Santos has gone 5-1 in the UFC, and is currently on a four-fight winning streak. He finished his three opponents — Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz — via KO or TKO.
Given the run he’s on and Jones’ ability to come alive for bigger threats, White said the fight speaks for itself.
“Listen, Thiago looks unbelievable at that weight,” he said. “He’s big, I like his fighting style. And when you put Jon Jones in those types of fights, Jones shines. Jones is one of those guys that rises to the level of his opponent.”