Jon Jones is officially in the superfight business. Immediately after dispatching Daniel Cormier this past weekend at UFC 214, the light heavyweight GOAT called out the one and only Brock Lesnar – a man who has headlined four pay-per-view cards that broke the vaunted million buys mark.
You can’t blame Jones for wasting zero time chasing paper. The 30-year old has fought just once a year since 2014, mainly due to his transgressions out of the cage. Who knows how many millions he’s lost after being stripped of the belt and suspended for PEDs? What better way to make up for that lost income than with a money fight?
Jones’ callout of Lesnar set off the sportsbooks, with money lines releasing for the hypothetical matchup the next day. To no one’s surprise, the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu have Jones as a huge favorite:
Jon Jones -350 vs. Brock Lesnar +265
The Perfect Callout
There’s no better opponent for Jones at this point in his career. He’s still got plenty of fans, but lost plenty of goodwill from the public for breaking a pregnant woman’s arm, admitting to Scarface levels of cocaine use and pissing hot for PEDs.
But in targeting Lesnar, Jones is rebranding himself as a prizefighter hunting the most dangerous game. You can be damn sure he chose his words very carefully (with the world watching): “If you want to find out what it’s like to get your ass kicked by a guy who weighs 40 pounds less than you, meet me here.”
Though Jones is more than a 4-1 favorite in some sportsbooks, to the naked eye everyone is an underdog to Lesnar. The WWE superstar’s massive frame and seething sneer is downright terrifying to us normal-sized human beings – and while Jones is taller than Lesnar, he’ll basically look like Manute Bol standing next to a guy built like an ox. This fight essentially becomes about a smaller man taking down a bigger one.
Let’s not forget that although Lesnar is famous, he isn’t particularly well-liked. Hardcore MMA fans are butthurt that a WWE superstar steamrolled his way to a championship (though he does have an NCAA wrestling background). Obnoxious antics after victories – like straddling Heath Herring and pretending to lasso him or openly taunting Frank Mir after beating him senseless – only elevated his heel status further.
There are plenty of people that would love to see Jones lose, but there are legions more who would love to watch him batter a bully like Lesnar. And because Lesnar doesn’t know how to be anything else but the villain, the prefight buildup would only serve to lift Jones further out of the publicity nightmare he caused for himself.
Jones Has Earned It
On the surface level, Jones is following the footsteps of Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping – two champions who dismissed the contenders in their respective divisions in search for more lucrative matchups.
While you can’t fault the lightweight or middleweight champs for wanting to cash in on their positions, it’s hard not to be frustrated either. Bisping made his first title defense against an ancient Dan Henderson, then angled for a fight with former welterweight champion GSP – nevermind the fact that the middleweight division is loaded with contenders that many feel would beat the Brit.
McGregor has won belts in two divisions, yet still hasn’t made a single defense. While featherweight has moved on, the lightweight class is permanently on hold – and it just happens to be the most loaded division in the entire UFC. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson each deserve shots at the title, but remain in an indefinite holding pattern until the UFC kowtows to its biggest superstar.
But Jones? He’s already cleaned out his division. There’s nothing left for him to prove at 205. A rematch with Alexander Gustafsson has some merit, but he already won that fight, and just beat the last man to beat the Swede. Anthony Johnson is retired. Volkan Oezdemir isn’t ready yet or a big enough name. Nobody else would give the champ a challenge.
For the first time in the WME-IMG era, a champ’s request for a superfight is well-deserved. Sorry Tyron Woodley, you don’t deserve GSP – not after consecutive snoozers. Michael Bisping, please fight anyone in the middleweight top four. Conor McGregor, just defend your damn belt. Jon Jones, you’re cool – go get that money.
Check out the latest Jones vs Lesnar UFC betting odds.