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UFC 114 Should Be Jon Jones' Time to Shine

The news that Forrest Griffin is out of his UFC 114 fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is a big disappointment for the UFC. But it's also a big opportunity.

If the UFC really wants to give fans a great fight on May 29, and really wants to put together the kind of matchup that can separate the contenders from the pretenders in the light heavyweight division, it will put Nogueira in the Octagon with Jon Jones.

Yes, I know there are a million reasons not to do this. The fight is less than four weeks away, meaning Jones wouldn't have time for a full training camp. Jones has already been penciled in for a fight with Vladimir Matyushenko on the Versus card in August, meaning that card would need to be shuffled. And there's a school of thought that you shouldn't rush young prospects into big fights because you'll stunt their growth if they're pushed into top competition before they're ready.

But Jones has already demonstrated that he is ready. Jones has absolutely destroyed Matt Hamill and Brandon Vera in his last two fights (he lost to Hamill via disqualification, but he was clearly the vastly superior fighter in the cage that night), and the fact that he's only 22 years old should be used as a selling point for a fight with Nogueira, not a reason to hold him back.

If Jones were to beat Nogueira, the UFC would have a bona fide superstar on its hands, a fighter who might even be ready to contend for the title, depending on how the Lyoto Machida-Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson-Rashad Evans fights play out. Jones ought to be given the opportunity to prove himself against one of the very best light heavyweights in MMA.

It's probably not going to happen. The UFC would rather bring Jones along a little more slowly. But it should happen. Nogueira vs. Jones would be tremendous.

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