UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones is open to fighting the next crop of contenders, but it will ultimately come down to the magnitude of potential fights.
If Jones (27-1 MMA, 21-1 UFC) is able to defend his belt against Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 in November and opts not to retire, he has some potentially intriguing opponents on the horizon in Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich.
Jones admits he’s impressed by what both men are doing in the division, but at 36 and with a long UFC career already behind him, he’s not fighting just for the sake of it. He needs it to be significant, and in his mind, that falls on contenders like Aspinall (13-3 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Pavlovich (17-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) to bring their public notoriety to a certain level.
“They’re amazing – don’t get me wrong,” Jones said on the OverDogs Podcast. “They’re starching people in the first round. But as I get older, I have to look at it as a business and not just speak out of pride, but speak as my legacy and as a business. If the hardcore fans know who these guys are, that’s great. But at the end of the day I have to fight people that the mainstream public is going to be excited about. Because when you’re in my position, there’s always going to be this new challenge that’s younger than you that everyone wants to see you do it one more time.”
Despite being uncertain about whether they will ever fight, Jones did heap praise on Aspinall, who has been very vocal about his desire to challenge Jones since his recent first-round TKO of Marcin Tybura last month at UFC Fight Night 224.
Jones thinks Aspinall is going to be a factor at heavyweight for years to come. It’s just a matter of whether timing and circumstances will lead to them colliding inside the octagon.
“Tom Aspinall, I think he really has the potential to do something really special in the heavyweight division,” Jones said. “I think he’s going to be hard for the majority of guys to beat. I really do believe that.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.