Jon Jones is eligible to resume his mixed martial arts career in July, but at least one submission specialist is looking at facing him sooner than that.
Chael Sonnen’s 3rd grappling event, to be broadcast on the Flo Combat app, is scheduled for January 29th 2017. The last event was headlined by Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson, a bout that was once scheduled for the ill-fated UFC 151 card. Jones made Henderson tap at Submission Underground 2, which immediately led to speculation regarding who Jones’ next grappling opponent might be.
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Who is Dillon Danis?
Dillon Danis is one of the fastest rising names in jiu-jitsu, and the clear favourite amongst fans to be Jones’ next opponent. At least according to Flo Combat’s online poll that is.
He most recently won double gold at the 2016 IBJJF No-Gi Pans competition, and has won over a lot of fans with his aggressive approach. His style impressed UFC double-champion Conor McGregor as well, so much so that he brought him in as his jiu-jitsu coach in his camp for UFC 202. This, despite that Davis is only 23 years old, and was still competing as a brown belt as little as a year ago. Danis is reported to have shined in the role, and would also help McGregor train for his UFC 205 bout against Eddie Alvarez.
With fan support behind him, Danis called out Jones in the hopes of facing him at the January 29th event.
He would later post a photo that he took with Jon Jones as a kid, which wasn’t that long ago. Danis added the caption “That time a nice boy named Jonathan Dwight Jones asked me for a picture!”.
Jon Jones’ Response
It appears Jones isn’t biting however. He had the following to say regarding Danis’ challenge:
“With him, you know, he’s a lot smaller than me, so already, going into that grappling match, there’s not much to gain. I just beat Henderson and I was a lot bigger than him, so I think right now people would like to see me go against someone who’s bigger than me; just have a different challenge. Him telling me to ‘beg’ him, it was kind of a douchey thing to do. And I felt like I was already at a situation where I have not very much to gain, not many people even know who he is. I just felt like he was being a douchebag and I’m just like, ‘I’m not going to even entertain you.’”
Jones’ comments regarding Danis’ might be misguided. Anyone associated with Conor McGregor’s camp has the ability to make noise on social media. Fans might not let Jones brush off this challenge so quickly.
Danis had originally been scheduled to face Gracie-Barra’s AJ Agazarm, so it can be assumed if Jones isn’t willing, the bout with Agazarm is still on.
What’s Next in the UFC for Jon Jones?
With the end of his MMA suspension still 7 months away, it is unclear what is next for Jon Jones in the UFC. Dana White commented that he is not confident promoting a PPV featuring Jones anymore, considering how frequently personal and professional issues have kept the 29-year old from competing. The comments may confirm that Jones will need to fight at least once more before once again challenging for the LHW championship.
Jones has only competed 3x in the last 3 years, and his most recent performance failed to impress.
By the time his suspension is up, Jones will be 30 years old, which is an important threshold for fighters. Former division-clearing champions like Ronda Rousey and BJ Penn both were unceremoniously knocked off their throne at a similar age. He is at the age where physical advantages start to decline. Fighters 30 and over need to compensate with increased skill and intelligence.
Jones could return to the cage and resume his dominant career, or he could go the way of Rousey and Penn. While Jones has been a dominant fighter, we are in an era in the sport where dominant fighters are falling fast. We’ll find out which route Jones’ legacy goes by the end of the year.