Jon Jones has proven through performance that he’s a contender in the UFC light heavyweight division. The 23-year-old wants his next opponent to be against a fighter that is “supposed” to be better than him.
“Every opponent I’ve had are really tough guys, and right now I’m passing these tests with flying colors. I really don’t want to sound arrogant, so let me be careful how I want to word this,” Jones told the media following his main event win over Vladimir Matyushenko at UFC on Versus 2.
“I want to fight someone that’s really going to give me a really tough test. If that happens to be the champion or whoever, I just want to fight someone who is supposed to be much better than me.”
The Greg Jackson trained athlete has been on a meteoric rise through the 205-pound division, dominating his recent opponents. The only blemish on his record is a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill for illegal elbows in a one-sided fight in his favor up until the rules infraction.
When questioned about who he considers those fighters supposedly better than him are, Jones specifically mentioned the top three ranked fighters in his division: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Lyoto Machida, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
“There’s the champion. He’s the toughest guy right now. He’s very well-rounded and is a great striker. Just the top three contenders that I really want to push myself against,” said Jones. “I really feel that needs to happen.”
So does UFC president Dana White.
Although he stopped short of saying Jones would get a top three fighter in his next bout, White did appear on Versus after the fight to say that Jones will take a step up in competition.
“Right now in 205-pound division are all fighting each other,” said White. “When the smoke clears and the dust settles, Jones will fight one of the top eight fighters in the world for his next fight.”
The one contender Jones will not fight is training partner Rashad Evans, who defeated Jackson in his last outing and is expected to get the next title shot against the injured Rua.
“The top three guys I’d like to fight except for Rashad obviously,” stated Jones.
Evans gets a pass, but the rest of the higher tier of the UFC light heavyweight division are targets and possible stepping stones for the young New Yorker.