UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones knows he has some tough opponents ahead of him. At the same time, however, he also knows those same opponents will have a tougher task in defeating him.
Jones (24-1-1) is set to defend his title against Thiago Santos (21-6) in the main event of UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will refreshingly mark his third title fight in the space of seven months.
In Santos, he will face an explosive, hard-hitting Brazilian with an unorthodox style. However, “Bones” knows as long as he sticks to the game plan and remains himself, he’ll come out victorious again.
“Really just be who we are. Be who we are,” Jones said in a recent interview with BT Sport. “You know, Thiago is a very game opponent, aggressive guy, strong guy. I’m sure he’s extremely hungry.”
“But I know that I’m a tall feat. I’m a tall mountain to climb. And I just have to be who I am and don’t change anything really.”
There has always been talk of Jones moving up to heavyweight, especially given the dearth of top contenders in the 205-pound division.
However, things have changed of late, in part due to a number of middleweights moving up to the light heavyweight division as well as the emergence of young talent.
Jones sees himself having at least three fights at 205 before moving up; Santos, former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and Johnny Walker.
“I’m thinking at least three more. The UFC has been kind of whispering after Thiago Santos, Luke Rockhold possibly. And then, I’d imagine Johnny Walker is going to be in that mix as well. So I think I got three really tough fights ahead of me before moving up.”
Rockhold, of course, has been regularly calling out Jones of late since moving up to light heavyweight, and believes he has the tools to inflict the 31-year-old’s first proper defeat. First, he will have to get past Jan Blachowicz, with that fight also taking place at UFC 239.
Walker, on the other hand, believes he needs a couple more fights before facing “Bones” but is also confident of emerging victorious.
Whatever happens, the next three potential fights for Jones all look like barnburners.