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Should Jones return to a title shot?

Considering how Jon Jones looked against Ovince Saint Preux, a warmup fight before another title shot would be the wiser decision for him.

With Daniel Cormier in a way retiring Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, who effectively cleared the list of all other light heavyweight contenders, the UFC is at a crossroads in the division. Light heavyweight was once viewed as an epically deep division with loads of contenders who would challenge Jon Jones, even when he was dominating, but now, here in 2017 – after Johnson knocked out Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader (now in Bellator), Jimmy Manuwa and Alexander Gustafsson and then announced his own retirement – there really does not appear to be anything except the current champion and the former champion who never actually lost his title.

But should Jones just be handed a title shot upon his July return? Would he even want an immediate title shot?

Of course, the easy answer is that the big money fight the UFC has to make as soon as possible is the rematch between Jones and Cormier for the 205 belt, but this time with Jones as the challenger and Cormier as the champion. And waiting to make that fight puts it in danger because if anything happens to either guy then the fight would be off.

But it is a more complex situation than that.

Jones was not really ever threatened by Ovince Saint Preux last year, but he did not at all look like his old dominant self or like he could compete with Cormier right off his long layoff. After another year-plus layoff because of another suspension, it would be even more foolish to think he could just walk into the octagon and compete at a high level right away. It’ll be three years since he was regularly competing in and preparing for fights by the time he gets in the octagon next. The quality of the fight wouldn’t be the masterpiece that it could be capable of being.

And then there is the question of whether Jones deserves the immediate title shot.

Yes, but, Jones was suspended twice and had both his undisputed and interim light heavyweight titles stripped. Even as a Jones apologist and defender, he probably should have to win a fight before waltzing into the octagon for a title opportunity. Aside from being a ring-rust removing opportunity, Jones really should have to earn his new title shot, believing anything else would make it hypocritical to believe George ‘Rush’ St-Pierre shouldn’t be given a title shot immediately upon his return, or believing that Tony Ferguson should have gotten a title opportunity before Khabib Nurmagomedov because he fights more often and therefore risk losing more.

Maybe Cormier makes things easy by announcing his intention to take a long layoff so he can get married – a life-changing event like that demands a lot of attention be paid to it so it would make sense if he wants to take nine months to a year completely off to prepare and celebrate his matrimony. Jones surely would want to get in the octagon way before then to get back in the swing of things.

While Cormier’s decision is a bit of an x-factor, the logical thing for the UFC to do is make a fight between Jones and Manuwa with the winner going on to fight Cormier. But since the UFC was purchased by WME-IMG, matchmaking has become more about money and selling than ever with logic and deservedness being completely thrown out the window every single opportunity they get.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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