What's next for Jon Jones, Kamaru Usman and other UFC 235 fighters?

Jon Jones was dominant on Saturday night but still has work to do in the light heavyweight division. AP Photo/John Locher

Jon Jones added yet another title defense to his résumé on Saturday, and the UFC's welterweight championship changed hands for the first time since 2016.

What's next for Jones, newly crowned 170-pound champ Kamaru Usman and the rest of UFC 235's winners and losers? Here's ESPN's take.

Jon Jones, light heavyweight champion

Result: Defeated Anthony Smith via unanimous decision

Next: Thiago Santos

In this new era of "superfights" and "double champs," I am very much in favor of Jones lining 'em up at 205 pounds and knocking 'em down. That might disappoint those who (understandably) want to see Jones in fights that feel big. Running through a mill of underdog contenders doesn't feel as exciting as a Daniel Cormier trilogy or Brock Lesnar spectacle.

But like I said last summer, I don't necessarily need to see Jones-Cormier III. Cormier turns 40 this month. He has a chance to retire on top as heavyweight champion of the world. If he wants one last fantasy fight against Lesnar, he deserves it. Do it and ride off into the sunset. And in the meantime, have Jones clean out Santos, Johnny Walker, Dominick Reyes. Superfights will always be there.


Zabit defeats Stephens by unanimous decision.

Zabit Magomedsharipov defeats Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision in the featured prelim bout at UFC 235.

Anthony Smith, light heavyweight

Result: Lost to Jon Jones via unanimous decision

Next: Jan Blachowicz

Smith showed heart going five rounds with Jones -- and integrity, fighting through an illegal knee that could have resulted in Jones being disqualified. But other than that, honestly, this was a little bit of a disappointing performance by Smith. He admitted that postfight. Yes, he survived, but he never got in Jones' face and truly challenged him, as he said he was going to do.

This is still a new division for the former middleweight, though, and there are plenty of options for him. He deserves a break, having fought five times in 13 months. When he returns, Blachowicz makes sense.

Kamaru Usman, welterweight champion

Result: Defeated Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision

Next: Colby Covington

UFC president Dana White already has announced this is the direction he'll head, and it's the right call. It's easy to forget now, because it flew relatively under the radar, but there has been heat between Usman and Covington for a while. This is a fight I've actually wanted to see for some time. Two very hungry welterweights with fighting styles based on pressure.

Whatever you think of Covington and his shtick is irrelevant. The fact is (and has been) he deserves a UFC title shot. This will be an interesting one.

Tyron Woodley, welterweight

Result: Lost to Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision

Next: Robbie Lawler

Look, you can absolutely make a case for "T-Wood" to get an immediate rematch. He's not the best welterweight of all time -- that distinction still belongs to Georges St-Pierre -- but he is in the conversation. From a standpoint of résumé alone, Woodley deserves the chance to reclaim his belt right away.

But his performance on Saturday was so uninspiring, and Covington is waiting in the wings. Woodley's title reign began with Lawler, whom he knocked out in 2 minutes, 12 seconds at UFC 201. Why can't his path back to the title start with Lawler? The more I consider this idea, the more I love it.

Ben Askren, welterweight

Result: Defeated Robbie Lawler via first-round submission

Next: Darren Till (if Till defeats Jorge Masvidal on March 16)

White already has said he wants to book a rematch between Askren and Lawler, because of a controversial ending. For the record, I'm good with that idea. It was a wild first round between these two, and I am legitimately upset we'll never know how it would have gone had Herb Dean not called it off too early. I am in for a rematch -- but it's not my first choice.

Askren already has heat with the new champ, Usman. He also has it with the No. 1 contender, Covington. He's flying to London on March 16 to watch Till's fight against Masvidal -- and he wants to face Till next. If the cards fall into place, you'll have Till fresh off a victory in England and Askren making a scene on fight night, setting up a bout in which the winner would be next in line for the title after Covington gets his shot. Kind of perfect.

Robbie Lawler, welterweight

Result: Lost to Ben Askren via first-round submission

Next: Tyron Woodley

See above. It just makes so much sense: Lawler trying to avenge the loss that ended his UFC title reign. Lawler and Woodley looking to assert themselves as the No. 1 contender again. Book this.

Zabit Magomedsharipov, featherweight

Result: Defeated Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision

Next: Jose Aldo

Man, I'll admit, I'm having a really hard time with this one. The problem is Aldo, honestly. He's a hard guy to matchmake, because he intends to retire after fighting out the last two bouts on his contract. And if we truly get to see Aldo only two more times, dude, I don't want to see him just take the "next guy" at featherweight. Move to 155 and fight Anthony Pettis. Donald Cerrone. Something like that.

We also don't even know what's happening with the 145-pound title. The champ, Max Holloway, is moving up for a crack at the interim 155-pound belt -- and if he wins that, his days at 145 might be over. And on top of that, you can't consider Frankie Edgar as a potential opponent for Magomedsharipov because they are teammates.

That's a lot of variables. So, let's try to make it simple again. Aldo versus Magomedsharipov is a heck of a fight. Also, Brian Ortega versus Alex Volkanovski is a heck of a fight. And Edgar fits in somehow when the title picture is more clear. It's not a perfect solution to the featherweight division, but I can't come up with a better one.