Fightin' Words

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Remember the time

Jon Jones speaks during the UFC 152 pre-fight

Jon Jones speaks during the UFC 152 pre-fight press conference at the Real Sports Bar and Grill in Toronto. (Sept. 20, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Champion Jon Jones is close to cleaning out the UFC light heavyweight division, UFC president Dana White said after Saturday's win over Vitor Belfort.

It's a cute turn of phrase that indicates he has beaten every worthy contender at 205 pounds. Whenever a top-tier champion makes a few consecutive title defenses, MMA folks love to list the rest of the worthy contenders left.

Whether it's Jones at light heavyweight or Anderson Silva at middleweight or Georges St-Pierre at welterweight, they always manage to leave one of the list: time.

Yes, time. That pesky little instrument in life that we use to measure how long has passed from thing to the next.

"I have some unfinished business with Dan Henderson," Jones said after winning at UFC 152.

Yes, he does.

And that fight won't happen in 2012, seeing how Henderson is rehabbing a knee injury and Jones has undetermined damage to his right arm from that devastating armbar that almost cost Jones his belt.

Jones also has Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen "in the mix" at 205 pounds. And since most elite fighters only get into the octagon twice a year as a champion (occasionally three times a year), that could conceivably take Jones into 2014. Anything can happen between then and now. MMA is not a sport that typically lends itself to monthly appearances by a fighter.

Of course, that all depends on how those fighters do in their upcoming fights. Plus, there's the Lyoto Machida factor out there, and even Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

If Jones has to miss an extended period of time because of the arm injury, then that allows for another contender to emerge. It's that tenuous.

Remember when everyone said GSP had cleaned out the 170-pounders. Well, a knee injury put him down for 18 months and now he's got Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz to contend with. Silva, the best fighter in the world, finished Sonnen last July and now he's got Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch all jostling for the next title shot.

The right injury, or the rightly worded tweet, can instantly change all that for anyone in the division. In any division.

White told reporters after the UFC 152 post-fight press conference that if fans demanded the Jones-Sonnen fight next, he might have to make that fight happen.

Matchmaking doesn't take place in a vacuum. It requires worthy fighters, healthy fighters, marketable fighters.

So before you trim that list of contenders down to one for a particular champion, take a look at the calendar. Let's just hope it's one of those 16-month calendars.

Tags: jon jones , light heavyweight , ufc , chael sonnen , dan henderson , lyoto machida , alexander gustafsson

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