Israel Adesanya is on top of the world right now. His rise has been one of the most astonishing in the history of MMA. The Nigerian-born, New Zealand resident is an exciting and entertaining striker. ‘The Last Stylebender’ has delivered some excellent performances in 2019, beating Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whittaker.
His clash with Gastelum is nailed on for the fight of the year. Adesanya showed tremendous heart and spirit to overcome his fellow middleweight. Then he stunned Whittaker with a devastating second-round knockout to win the title and become the UFC’s second African champion.
The big question now is who is next? Paulo Costa is Adesanya’s preferred challenger but he’s also happy to take on Yoel Romero. However, one man who keeps being linked to a fight with him is Jon Jones. Now, Mike Winkeljohn has commented on the situation and he gives the edge to Jones.
Winkeljohn is one half of the internationally-renowned Jackson-Wink gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As well as Jones, the gym has trained the likes of Donald Cerrone, Michelle Waterson and Holly Holm amongst many others. He warned that if Jones moves up to heavyweight then the fight may never happen.
“That would be up to Jon if he stays at light heavyweight. If Jon goes up to heavyweight by then, it is hard to bounce back down,” Winkeljohn told BJPENN.com. “It is not that easy to change 15-pounds efficiently and still fight. We have to make a decision of going up and fighting for the belt or staying at 205 and cleaning out the division until Adesanya wants to come up.”
However, he’s definitely not ruling the fight out. Winkeljohn believes though that the fight would be in Jones’s favour though. The light-heavyweight GOAT has a size and weight advantage. The Jackson-Wink coach acknowledges that Adesanya is a remarkable striker which would add a fascinating dimension to any potential fight.
“I think it might happen. That young man needs to get bigger and gain some weight because Jon just dwarfs him. Jon beats him in so many places because of his skill and size,” Winkeljohn said. “But, Israel is an incredible striker, there is no doubt about it, and has good wrestling defence. But, he needs to gain weight before he thinks about fighting Jon. Like everybody, he is looking to challenge the top dog to get his name out there and the top dog is Jon. If it happens, it is down the road.”
Despite common belief, Adesanya is not the one pushing for this fight. He’s adamant that he wants to clear out the middleweight division before even thinking about moving up. But he’s open to a light-heavyweight clash in 2021. Jones should be in the heavyweight division by then if he’s got any sense.
Of course, the first thing Jones has to do is get past the dangerous threat of Dominick Reyes. ‘Bones’ is the rightful overwhelming favourite going into that fight. However, every fighter can be beaten and a knockout loss is never impossible.