When Anderson Silva was finally dethroned, a cog in two potential superfights was lost. In his place, the sport's observers have looked for other possibilities to muse over and imagine. Among them, the potential for UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones to move up a weight class and compete with its big men.
The thinking goes that at 6-foot-4, Jones has the frame to add a few pounds and fit right in among them. After all, his 84.5-inch wing span is already a UFC record for any division. Why couldn't he step in against the world's biggest?
Jones has faced the question enough that now he's ready to have some fun with it. During Tuesday's Los Angeles stop of the UFC World Tour, the champ playfully responded to the expected queries about such a move.
"Look at this guy next to me?" he said, smiling as he turned to heavyweight title holder Cain Velasquez "Would you guys fight him? I don't know, guys. I don't know."
Somehow, you knew that wasn't going to be the end of it. After going on to answer questions about his UFC 165 opponent Alexander Gustafsson, his odds of beating his NFL brothers Art and Chandler in a fight -- according to him, Art could "definitely" beat him, but Chandler definitely could not -- and the difficulties of growing up in the spotlight, the question came back around.
Hadn't allusions been made to Jones' move in the past? Why was he backtracking now?
"I just said that because Cain’s next to me. I didn't want it to be awkward," he said, laughing, before moving on to his real answer.
"Eventually," he said. "I’m getting older, I’m growing, I'm getting stronger. Why not? Yeah, for sure."
But first, the Swede. At 6-foot-5, Gustafsson is actually an inch taller than Jones, making it a matchup capable of silencing the critics who chalk up his success to his size. This time, it's completely negated.
For Jones, that's the exciting part, as if he needs to remind people that he was at a tremendous experience disadvantage when he shot through the ranks to capture the belt. As if he needs to reinforce his legitimacy.
"I don't think your body really has much to do with the game," he said. "Obviously it helps, but it’s really about your mind, your mentality, the way you train. I've been wrestling since I was 14 years old. I've been wanting to be a winner at life for a very long time, and now I have this opportunity to go as far as I can take it. And I know that. Will he be a tough challenge? Who knows? He could be, or maybe he won't. I’m going to train hard though."
With that, it's as if he is saying that the outcome is not up to Gustafsson, it's up to him. That Gustafsson is just another domino to be knocked down. All Jones has to do is supply the power.
Past that, he sees at last one more challenge. When UFC president Dana White was asked whether a win over Gustafsson would mean that Jones has swept the division of top contenders, some fans seemed to disagree, shouting out names.
Jones, listening intently as he always does, seemed to hear one name among the many.
"Glover," he said, without picking up the microphone, as if he was saying it to himself. With that, he nodded, perhaps charting his own future.
World Tour - Los Angeles notes
Johny eats jabs
Johny Hendricks was asked about whether welterweight champion and UFC 167 opponent Georges St-Pierre can keep him away with his jab, as GSP's teammate Rory MacDonald did to power puncher Jake Ellenberger last weekend. Rest assured, the former All-American wrestler doesn't think so.
"I know he’s good at the jab, right on the mouthpiece. I’ll eat a jab for a left hand any day," he said. "I know that all I've got to do is touch him. So, my left hand is going to do that. I’ll bite down on the mouthpiece all day long for a jab for a left hand, wouldn't you?"
Ronda & Miesha, part ?
The only enmity on the stage came from Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, who sat on far ends of the stage but traded barbs throughout the press conference.
This judge scored the round for Rousey 10-9, largely on the strength of a particularly sharp answer Rousey gave when asked whether she truly views their relationship as a rivalry.
"How is it not a rivalry? I have everything that she wants in life," she said.
Speaking of Rousey, she briefly discussed her upcoming role in The Expendables 3, saying that she was leaving soon for filming and that she was going to take some members of her camp with her so that she could train on set.
" I can't really say too much except I’m going to probably play a kickass kind of chick," she said. "That's the genre I prefer."
GSP vs. McD's
Georges St-Pierre made at least one surprising admission on Tuesday, and it wasn't about potentially facing teammate Rory MacDonald. Nope, on that front, they're still holding the line on not facing each other.
Instead, his interesting nugget came about ... Chicken McNuggets? Or, more specifically his diet, when a fan asked him about it.
"I don't eat well. You will be really disappointed," he said.
"Where are you guys eating lunch, Georges?" Jon Jones interjected.
"McDonald's," he sheepishly replied.
Missing in action
There were two faces missing from the World Tour stage, Chris Weidman and Anderson Silva. According to White, that's because Silva had many previously planned obligations that will take him through Brazil and later to Japan before he heads right into his camp to prepare for Weidman.