Jonny “Bones” Jones is one of the best fighters to ever grace the UFC octagon. After becoming the youngest champion in UFC history in 2011 when he defeated Shogun Rua for the Light Heavyweight championship at UFC 128, he has been on an unstoppable streak that was only slowed down by his own stupidity. Since then, he defended the belt eight times and racked up more victories, before having it all come crashing down. After testing positive for cocaine and committing a hit-and-run accident, the UFC stripped him of the title and suspended him.
A little over a year later, and Jones is back with a vengeance. He returned to the cage by beating Ovince Saint Preux for the interim Light Heavyweight belt and is on a collision course to unify that title with the real one, currently around the waist of Jones’ archenemy, Daniel Cormier.
Despite the time off to deal with his legal problems, Jones doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. He is regularly ranked at the top of the lists of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. But no man is invincible. The UFC has a short, but rich, history of amazing fighters from around the world. Some of those fighters could have given Bones a real run for his money, and possibly even taken him out back when they were in their prime. One of the greatest things about sports is that fans can argue endlessly about how athletes of yesteryear would fare in today’s landscape. So, in a dream world where every fighter gets to be at their absolute best, here are the eight fighters that could have dethroned Jon Jones.
Although Belfort already had his shot at Jon Jones at UFC 152, and lost via submission, his best days are behind him. Remember the 19-year old “Phenom” who tore through opponents like a rabid dog? That younger version of Belfort may have just had a chance against Bones, with his incredible intensity and feverish pace. Belfort struggled to recover from the Nevada State Athletic Commision’s decision to ban TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) for fighters, a treatment he was using regularly. Although he has been publicly campaigning for another shot at Jones, he’s unlikely to get it. And even more unlikely to defeat him. Although Belfort did knock out Dan Henderson back in November.