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Miocic, Aspinall, or Retirement - What’s Next for Jon Jones?

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Jon Jones who is unquestionably one of, if not the greatest mixed martial artists of all time has reached quite a crossroads at this point in his MMA career, prompting fans around the world to speculate whether his next move will send him into retirement or see him have one last ride in the octagon. 


Jones, who was the former UFC light heavyweight champion of the world, announced in 2020 that he would vacate his title and take a three-year hiatus from fighting in the UFC to prepare for a move to the heavyweight division. 


Considering that Jones would need to add around 60 pounds of muscle, fans anticipated he would take quite a bit of time off, and that he did. Three years and 60 pounds later, Jones announced his return to the UFC in 2023 where he would take on France’s Ciryl Gane in a fight for the UFC’s heavyweight belt.


After making quick work of Gane at UFC 285 with a submission just two minutes and four seconds into the first round, Jones reclaimed his undisputed title in a new division and looked as fresh as ever doing so.


Jones was comfortable in his new heavyweight stature and looked primed to begin another dominant run in the UFC. After his 285 victory, Jones scheduled another bout for UFC 295 in November of 2023, where he would take on the greatest heavyweight of all time in Stipe Miocic. However, after Jones suffered a pectoral tear a few weeks out from the fight, it all fell apart. 


Jones was forced to have surgery and was mandated a four-month recovery period which meant no fighting and no training for four straight months. As it’s now March which means it’s five months post-op for Jones, the topic of Jones’ return or retirement has become a major talking point in the martial arts world. Who wouldn’t want to see the greatest of all time give it one last go? 


However, at 36, Jones is getting up there in age for a fighter. Time is inevitable, even for the greatest athletes in the world. Jones has a few options now at this point in his career: one last hoorah to further cement his legacy, or ride the sunset into retirement as the “GOAT”.


Miocic and Aspinall

Credit: ZuffaLLC/Getty Images


As an MMA fan, it’s only fair that you’d want to see Jones give it one last go. He’s 28-0 (27-1 if you count the disqualification), beat the who’s who of the sport, is entertaining on the mic and in the octagon and last but not least, is the greatest martial artist of all time. If he were to have one more fight, he has two options in terms of opponents: Stipe Miocic or Tom Aspinall. 


Miocic is widely considered the greatest heavyweight fighter the UFC has ever seen. He holds a record of 20-4 and is a two-time UFC heavyweight champion, where he racked up the most victories in UFC heavyweight title fights and posted the longest UFC heavyweight title defence streak in the promotion’s history. 


Miocic has some of the best boxing the UFC has ever seen thanks to his strong boxing fundamentals which allow him to deliver devastating strikes with precision and power. Considering his legacy as well as the history between him and Jones, Miocic seems like the more logical move for Jones’ legacy. 


If Jones could take down Stipe, he would undoubtedly be the greatest martial artist of all time, and maybe even snatch Stipe’s title as the greatest heavyweight fighter in the UFC’s history.


However, Stipe doesn’t hold the belt right now. Tom Aspinall does. Aspinall is currently the UFC’s interim heavyweight champion after he defeated Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 in a filler fight in place of what was supposed to be Jones vs. Miocic. If Jones wanted to reclaim his status as the undisputed heavyweight champion, he’d have to fight Aspinall next.


Aspinall would be an interesting match-up for Jones. He’s a legit 260-pounder, and he’s easily the fastest striker out of anyone Jones has ever fought. His footwork on the feet on top of his relentless ground pressure has shot him to the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division in just three years. 


However, whenever any doubt creeps into your mind about Jones’ ability to win a fight, he shuts that down immediately by mauling his opponent in the octagon. 


Aside from the desire to see Jones fight again, his most logical option would be to step away from the sport after a dominant 16-year run. 


Throughout his career, Jones has had 16 title fights and holds the record for the most UFC title fight wins in history. He was the youngest fighter ever to become a champion at 23 and has gone undefeated since then. He is the most versatile fighter the sport has ever seen and despite a few controversies throughout his career, he is undeniably great. 


If Jones were to step away now, he’d retire as the greatest of all time. Sure, he might get some stick from die-hard fans who wanted to see him one more time, but who cares, he's Jon Jones.


Jon Jones at UFC 285Cre

Credit: ZuffaLLC/Getty Images


Whether you’re a fan of Jones or not, it’s hard not to give the guy his credit, especially where it’s due. Sure, he’s had his issues in the past ranging from doping to substance abuse, but when it comes to fighting, he’s a stud and a martial arts fan's dream. 


After dominating for so long, it seems Jones’ biggest opponent throughout his career has been himself. However, in his new state of mind and heavyweight stature, he seems happy and enjoying fighting again, which is easily the most dangerous version of Jones we will ever see. 


It will be interesting to see where Jones decides to go next, especially at this stage in his life and career. At 36, he’s done it all in the sport. But once a fighter, always a fighter, meaning it’s not as easy just to walk away as it looks. Whether he decides to go for one more or walk away as the greatest of all time, Jones has already cemented his legacy as the greatest mixed martial artist ever.



Edited By: Ayantika Ghosh



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