No time to waste Jones in frivolous fights

April, 28, 2013
4/28/13
2:49
AM ET
Gross By Josh Gross
ESPN.com
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videoThe reality show is wrapped. The spring break title defense against Chael Sonnen is in the books.

It's time, is it not, for Jon Jones to get back to business?

The 25-year-old UFC light heavyweight champion spun his wheels over the last seven months, and all he had to show for it was a busted up arm and horribly mangled toe. If "Bones" is going to pay a price for stepping in the cage, let it come against a legitimate threat (perceptually, at least) to his title.

Recognizing that fights with Vitor Belfort and Sonnen weren't intended, that they were the product of the craziness of the fight promotion business, and that Jones was simply doing what was required of him as champion by taking on these contests, opponents exist who appear capable of forcing the immeasurable talents of such a dynamic fighter to the surface.

Alexander Gustafsson, the confident Swede, seems to rank at the top of Jones' list.

Anderson Silva, of course, leads everyone else's.

The last thing Jones has done is clean out his division, though many believe he will, and it's hard to argue otherwise. But there are others: a rematch with Lyoto Machida; the ageless wonder Dan Henderson; a surging Glover Teixeira; an improving Phil Davis.

Then there's Daniel Cormier, the heavyweight. Maybe Jones meets him there. Maybe Cormier cuts to 205. But this is a bout that seems destined to happen, and can you say with certainty that Jones will walk away with a win? I can't, which at this point is all I'm looking for.

There's no time to waste with frivolous, meaningless contests like Saturday's, which featured Jones pelting a guy that didn't stand a chance. Think of the hysteria that would have ensued had referee Keith Peterson allowed Jones to wail on Sonnen for 30 more seconds; had he deferred to Sonnen's considerable experience, recognized a title fight was ongoing, and given the man a chance to get out of the first.

Just imagine Jones in his corner, his left big toe pointing east while the rest of his piggies looked north, a New Jersey ringside physician seeing this, doing what was required and calling the fight. Sonnen, hands raised, belt around his waist. Bye-bye, consecutive title defense record-tying result. For what? A fluke. Against a guy that didn't belong anywhere near Jones' belt. There's too much that can go wrong in an MMA bout for the UFC to waste Jones on a scenario like that.

No more, thank you.

[+] EnlargeJon
Ed Mulholland for ESPNThink of the hysteria that would have ensued had an undeserving Chael Sonnen survived the opening round, causing Jon Jones to lose his title due to a broken toe.
Thankfully, Jones seems to get it. Look at what he did in 2011, running a gauntlet against Ryan Bader, Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson and Machida. Look at how much he improved over that span. He did this while he wasn't nearly the fighter he is today, which isn't remotely close to the predator he'll be in 12 months time. He needs more of that. More challenges. More pressure. More threats. This is the only way Jones will know how good he can be, and this is the only way we'll get to see him at his best.

Jones comes across like a redemptive fellow. He should wish to save himself and his fans from having to pay to watch contests like Belfort and Sonnen.

Give us Gustafasson. Give us Silva. Give us a stud heavyweight. Give us someone whose justification for getting a shot isn't their speaking ability. Give us Jones against a man who might beat him on paper.

That's a start. The rest will take care of itself.

The truth is Jones could turn out to be so good it wouldn't matter if Sonnen or Silva were standing opposite him in the Octagon. And that's why it's high time Bones gets back to business, because there's business to be done.

We're watching, and we're not interested in waiting.

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