He first has a rematch with Chris Weidman, the man who took his belt, when the two square off at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas, but as much as he is focused on regaining the title, Silva still entertains the idea of someday facing the likes of welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre or light heavyweight record holder Jon Jones.
Truth be known, it still crosses Jones’ mind as well, but it doesn’t distract from what is immediately in front of him… Alexander Gustafsson.
“Me and him always speculate and talk, we’ll do this and we’ll beat this guy up, we’ll drop here and go up there, but the reality of it is, in any serious conversation, we take it fight by fight,” Jones’ manager, Malki Kawa of First Round Management, told MMAWeekly.com.
“Once the fight is over with, we’ll look at where the landscape of MMA is at, his division, any other opportunities or goals that he has, and let’s attack them immediately after the fight. But right now, it’s 1,000 percent Alexander Gustafsson.”
That means thoughts of superfights or permanently moving up to heavyweight, as Jones has said will likely happen some day, get cast to the wayside, just like concern for the toe he severely dislocated in the Chael Sonnen fight at UFC 159 in April.
Kawa says that Jones’ toe is completely healed as he prepares for the most important fight of his career. Jones puts his belt on the line against Gustafsson in the UFC 165 main event on Sept. 21 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
If he is once again successful, Jones not only adds to his laundry list of victims, he also takes sole possession of the record he covets but currently shares with UFC Hall of Famer and recent Bellator signee Tito Ortiz. Both Jones and Ortiz have victories in six UFC light heavyweight championship bouts.
That’s all well and good, but this is one area that Jones wants to himself.
Whether a superfight with Anderson Silva is off the table or not; whether he eventually goes up to heavyweight or not; Jon Jones wants to stand alone as the greatest light heavyweight fighter in UFC history. Many people believe he has already reached that pinnacle, but he wants to have the hard, cold facts on his side.
He alone wants to have the most championship victories ever by a UFC light heavyweight. A victory over Gustafsson puts him on that pedestal. Then and only then does Jones sit back down with his manager and contemplate what comes next… setting the record is now.
“When somebody sets out to publicly make a goal, where they say, ‘I want to be the greatest of all time. I want to set the record in my division. I want to do this, that, and the other.’ It just so happens that Alexander Gustafsson is the next guy in that series of goals that (Jones) has; it’s a really big deal,” said Kawa.
“It’s a huge fight for him. It’s the record-setting fight. It’s the record that he wants to achieve and it’s basically what he’s going to do.”