It’s not quite been the rollercoaster ride the boxing world has had trying to put together Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, but UFC president Dana White has gone on the record saying that Jon Jones vs. Ryan Bader is now set for the Super Bowl card on Feb. 5 as a part of UFC 126.
The on-again possibly off-again fight was up in the air after White was unsure if the bout was set to go down as of UFC 120 weekend. Now following the events that went down at UFC 121 in Anaheim, Calif., White says the fight is definitely happening.
“Yes, the fight will happen with Ryan Bader,” he declared on Comcast Sportsnet’s Fight Fix show.
Jones and Bader are thought to be two light heavyweights on the fast track towards a title shot in the near future, and now they will collide with only one of them remaining on the path to the top of the division.
Seeing the talent that lies in Jones, White is quick to point out that the New York native is still relatively young in this sport and while he’s definitely growing up fast, there’s still room for him to take time and mature.
“Jon Jones is obviously the talk of the industry right now,” White said. “I mean this guy, he’s the whole package. He’s a good-looking kid, he’s smart, he’s incredibly talented, he’s got the size, he’s got the strength. We’ve had lots of guys come up through the ranks, they look like they were going to be the next big thing, we’ll see if Jon Jones is going to be that guy.”
The biggest obstacle is of course balancing expectations for Jones and still trying to give the fans the fights they want to see. Jones has already been deemed by many as the future of the UFC’s light heavyweight division, but the UFC president wants to take things a little slower with him and let things evolve.
“Here’s the thing, people drive me crazy. They’re always like, ‘oh Jon Jones is great, let’s get him in there with Shogun Rua now, he’s ready.’ Listen, this guy’s a young kid. Yes this kid’s been dominant, yes this kid’s done amazing things, in the fight business you work your way up the ranks,” White commented. “He just broke into the top ten, he’s going to take on Ryan Bader, who just beat (Antonio Rogerio) Nogueira. If he gets through that fight then he’s going to fight nothing but the top five.”
If the top five is where Jones goes next that leaves names like Lyoto Machida, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Forrest Griffin. Any of those fights would be yet another major litmus test for the talented fighter now training out of Greg Jackson’s gym in New Mexico.
As far as him climbing up the ranks and taking a crack at the UFC light heavyweight strap, White says it could definitely happen, but not in his next couple of fights.
“Jon Jones is probably a year away from getting a title shot,” he stated.
Regardless of the time until he gets a shot at the title, at least Jon Jones is now set on course for his next fight against Ryan Bader at UFC 126 in February.