CLEVELAND -- Is newly-crowned UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who says he fears no man, scared to battle Cleveland’s Stipe Miocic, the reigning and defending heavyweight title holder in the Ultimate Fighting Championship?
Jones says no, but after his calling out of former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, who has been out of competition because of a failed drug test after the UFC 200 event in Las Vegas in July of 2016, one has to wonder if a potential fight with Miocic is too risky for Jones.
“I feel like if I was to take a fight at heavyweight, it would be against a person who me and my coaching staff feel would be the perfect matchup for me,” Jones said following his win over Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 Saturday.
“Right now, Stipe’s looking extremely impressive. I think when you get an extremely talented big guy versus an extremely talented little guy, a lot of the cards are in his favor.”
Extremely impressive might be an understatement.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Miocic avenged one of only two losses on his professional record with a knockout of Junior dos Santos at the 2:24 mark of the very first round in the main event of UFC 211 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on May 13.
Miocic finished off the victory when he backed up dos Santos against the cage and floored him with a right hand to the head. When dos Santos fell, Miocic pounced on the opportunity to finish the fight and fired off more than a dozen left-handed punches through the guard, and that onslaught forced referee Herb Dean to call a stop to the bout.
With his latest knockout, Miocic won Performance of the Night honors for the third time in his last four outings, and including Fight of the Night accolades, he has garnered eight post-fight bonuses in his 13 UFC bouts.
Miocic has finished off eight of his 11 UFC wins with knockouts or TKOs, including each of his last five bouts. Of those last five wins, three have come against former UFC champions, and another, a September 2016 knockout of Alistair Overeem, was against a fighter who held titles in every other MMA organization in which he fought outside of UFC.
“I fear no man,” Jones said. “I strike for a reason when I strike, and I feel like Stipe is relatively unknown to the general public, so it wouldn’t even be a real super-fight in my opinion. I think the MMA fans would be really excited about it, but the general public wouldn’t care about that fight. Most people really don’t know who he is, with all due respect to him.”
After suspending Jones for out-of-competition misdeeds, including a hit-skip accident and failed drug tests, UFC President Dana White was complimentary of the new champion following his win over Cormier.
“I truly believe that Jon Jones is the best to ever do it,” White said. “I think he’s the best ever, and had he not these things go wrong in his personal life, God knows who he would’ve beaten and what he would’ve done by now. Without a doubt, the best.”
If Jones is truly the best to ever do it, the one way to prove it is by stepping into another division and throwing hands with the current heavyweight champion, not someone returning from a suspension and has not been in the title picture since 2010.