Jon Jones vs. Anthony Johnson might not be a "what if" after all
In the minds of MMA fans, Jon Jones vs. Anthony Johnson is the one that got away.
But that may change if, as most predict, Jones ends up at heavyweight in the latter stages of his career.
Jones has toyed with the idea of moving up in weight for years and a monster clash with Brock Lesnar continues to interest the greatest light heavyweight of all time.
But it could be argued that Jones vs. 'Rumble' is even more tantalising.
'Bones' was scheduled to defend his 205lbs title against Johnson at UFC 187 in 2015 but Jones' infamous hit-and-run accident meant that the bout never came to fruition.
Having never faced a knockout artist as dangerous as 'Rumble' before, Jones would have had to be at his defensive best against Johnson but before the pair of light heavyweights got the chance to share the Octagon with one another, Johnson hung up his gloves after falling short against Daniel Cormier for a second time.
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2019
But while Jones vs. Johnson never became a reality at light heavyweight, it remains a possibility at heavyweight after 'Rumble' revealed that the pound-for-pound great is the only opponent for whom he'd come out of retirement.
"The only way I’d come out of retirement is if Jon Jones goes to heavyweight, and then that’s when I’ll come out of retirement and fight Jon," Johnson said on the Into the Weeds podcast, as transcribed by MMAJunkie.
"I mean, that’s the only guy I want to fight. Because after him, I can officially say I did my job, (and) my mission is complete. Although I didn’t win a title, I fought the best of the best."
After exploring several weight classes before ultimately making light heavyweight his most fruitful home, Johnson's ability to make 205lbs again looks unlikely as he has put on plenty of mass in his time away from the Octagon.
And being one of the larger 205lbers on the roster, Jones is expected to move to heavyweight at some stage before calling time on his career although he has recently insisted that he's in no rush to move up to fight the big boys just yet.