The Current State of UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division

by Vito Basile

Jon Jones, current UFC Light Heavyweight Champ, considered by most as the G.O.A.T, was arrested Thursday, according to multiple sources. Unfortunately for Jones, this is all too familiar to him and his team. Charges include DWI, driving without proof of insurance, and negligent use of a firearm. These charges could be the beginning of the end of an era in UFC history and Jones storied career.

With the news of Jones, UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division looks to become a bit more open at the top of the rankings. Dominick Reyes, who nearly defeated Jones in his last fight, eyes the throne. Thiago Santos, battling back from his injury against Jones, also looks for a title shot. Jan Blachowicz, who defeated Corey Anderson by KO/TKO in his last fight, also looks to get his first shot at the title, currently holding the number one contender title.

Dana White, whose hands are currently full trying to keep UFC 249 Khabib v. Ferguson on track, now must deal with one of his biggest stars being arrested, while deciding Jones fate. White is known for his no-nonsense policies, but tends to be more lenient to his big money draws and top fighters, i.e. Connor McGregor, Ronda Rousey (at her peak), etc. Considering Jones is not a first, or even a second time offender, White may finally have to cut ties with him, forcing the Light Heavyweight title to become vacant, and allowing White the opportunity of possible match-ups.

Thiago Santos finished his fight against Jones after injuring his ACL, MCL, PCL, and meniscus in the earlier rounds. He nearly defeated him, and some even said Santos won the fight. Santos said he’s targeting a summer return to the octagon, and with Jones likely out, Santos eyes his shot at the Light Heavyweight crown much sooner than expected. Dominick Reyes, who also lost in a close controversial fight to Jones, eyes the crown, which would make for a Reyes v. Santos Light Heavyweight Title fight.

Getting lost in all of this, Jan Blachowicz is currently the number one contender. For Dana, match-ups aren’t always about the best fighters fighting each other. Just look at the Adesanya v. Romero fight, where a guy with three losses gets a title shot. UFC rankings aren’t the best, which is why most fans don’t pay much attention to them.

Where does all this leave UFC’s Light Heavyweight Division? It’s better off than it would’ve been a couple years ago. The division finally has depth with Reyes, Santos, Blachowicz, Anderson, etc. Jones inevitable departure from the UFC hurts for his fans, but it also gives us the possibility of a great match-up between Reyes v. Santos or Blachowicz vs either.