Jon Jones has been the king of the light heavyweight division for eight years. Despite some time on the sidelines for personal and professional issues, he’s always been the best at 205 pounds.
This legacy was etched by scoring dominant victory after dominant victory against the division’s very best. Despite the controversies surrounding his failed drug tests, Jones has made top fighters look like they don’t belong in the same Octagon with him.
Coming off a close split decision win over Thiago Santos that saw Jones unusually tentative and reluctant to use his wrestling, he may have his next challenger in sight. Santos is still rehabbing a leg injury, so the light heavyweight division may see the best 205 pounder in Poland step up to the plate.
Jan Blachowicz has the type of reputation that can surprise people. He’s a dark horse in the division – while he may not have the biggest name, he’s shown what he can do and has toppled great fighters. He’s 5-1 in his last six fights, with his only loss coming to Santos.
With wins against the likes of Jimi Manuwa and most recently a knockout win against former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, Blachowicz could be next in line for a shot. While the division is admittedly a little thin on talent, at least talent with big names, Blachowicz is doing what he can to make his case.
He took to Ariel Helwani’s show, where he said if he got a title shot Jones would “feel the legendary Polish power.” It may sound a tad corny, but that power broke Rockhold’s jaw – so it’s not exactly an exaggeration.
Jones responded, admitting he felt slightly nervous until he heard Blachowicz say “thank you” at the end of his callout. There’s nothing wrong with being respectful, but maybe Jones was expecting a little bit more in the way of brutal verbiage.
Jones also replied to the threat of legendary Polish power, saying he assumed Blachowicz has never competed against “an inner-city black kid” before, and that it wasn’t any small task either. Jones has proven to be a candidate for the best ever. Even though his last couple wins haven’t been nearly as dynamic as some of his others, he’s still unbeaten in arguably the toughest division in the sport.
Since returning from suspension last year and reclaiming the title against Alexander Gustafsson, Jones has been pledging to be more active. Before his defense against Santos, he scored a unanimous decision win against Anthony Smith earlier this year. Jones and Blachowicz may not be the marquee clash fans are hoping for (Jones/Cormier 3, anyone?) but it is logical.
Blachowicz holds a record of 24-8 and is currently ranked fourth in the division. If he doesn’t get the shot immediately, one has to believe that one more fight is all it will take for him to get to the title.
Does Blachowicz have what it takes to beat Jones? Or will it be yet another challenger who falls to the light heavyweight GOAT?