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UFC 159:

Could Anderson Silva await Jon Jones after he returns from toe injury?

Chael Sonnen among the growing chorus demanding a fight between the two best in the world

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Gregory Payan / AP Photo

The broken foot of Jon Jones is tended to after Jones beat Chael Sonnen in their UFC 159 light heavyweight title bout in Newark, N.J., Saturday, April 27, 2013. Jones retained his title via first-round TKO.

UFC 159

Champion Jon Jones, top, lands an elbow against Chael Sonnen during their UFC 159 light heavyweight title bout in Newark, N.J., Saturday, April 27, 2013. Jones retained his title via first-round TKO. Launch slideshow »

The pain eased as Jon Jones forced himself to recall the joy.

Jones limped into the UFC 159 post-fight press conference after beating Chael Sonnen by first-round TKO with a big toe mangled so horrifically it made a pay-per-view audience of somewhere around a half-million people queasy. Jones paid the injury no mind, however, as he thought about how just more than two years ago he sat a few steps away in the bowels of the Prudential Center making his first comments after winning the light heavyweight title.

“The last time I was here, I had all these great goals and was just becoming a champion,” Jones said. “And now I’m here in the same building as one of the best champions.”

Jones destroyed Sonnen in a fashion that dwarfed what the only fighter ranked ahead of him in the pound-for-pound rankings, Anderson Silva, had done in two bouts against the same opponent. It only made sense that the performance ratcheted up demand for a super fight between Jones and Silva from everyone.

Well, everyone except Jones. The 25-year-old said that once he healed, he wanted to fight Alexander Gustafsson to defend his belt one more time and set the record for light heavyweight title defenses before entertaining any other opportunities.

Sonnen hasn’t even officially retired yet — he’s going to weigh his options in the coming weeks — but that talk had him already channeling his crotchety old man routine with a complaint.

“You’ve got these two guys, and they are great,” Sonnen said. “But they are a couple of chickens. They should be calling each other out. They should be grabbing the mic and saying, ‘I want to fight that guy. I don’t want the debate. I want to figure this out.’ They should be saying, ‘Dana give me the date. Give me a time. Let me fight him.’ And it won’t happen that way. Dana is going to have to call these guys and then they’re going to have to dangle a carrot and they’re going to want to negotiate. We’re in the fight business. If you don’t want to fight, then don’t raise your hand.”

UFC President Dana White piped up at the podium during Sonnen’s rant. Even though Silva has a fight scheduled against Chris Weidman at UFC 162 this summer, which he will participate in regardless, White said he heard from the middleweight champion Saturday.

“Anderson called me tonight and does want a fight,” White said. “And I’m not going to tell you which one it is, but I am going to get to work on it as soon as possible.”

White would only indicate Silva’s wish was either Jones or the much-discussed fight against Georges St. Pierre. Given the timing on the night of UFC 159, it’s fair to assume Silva is interested in Jones.

Jones couldn’t respond to the news, as he was transported to the hospital after spending eight minutes talking to reporters. But his reaction may have mirrored the way he handled a question about whether he surpassed Silva by beating Sonnen so handily earlier in the night.

“I celebrated my two-year anniversary of being a champion this year, and Anderson has been doing it for about six,” Jones said. “That’s phenomenal that he’s been able to uphold. I admire him so much. I’ve had some great fights and had a great career, but Anderson is still an amazing guy. He’s still my idol. I’m not going to disregard the things he’s done.”

White cautioned it might be a while before Jones is cleared to fight again anyway. He called Jones’ injury “a compound fracture” and said the bone was clearly sticking out of the skin.

Jones stayed optimistic, suggesting “maybe it wasn’t that serious of an injury,” and described how he didn’t even realize the toe was hurt for several minutes after stubbing it on the canvas during a takedown attempt. But White disagreed.

“I’m not a doctor,” White said. “I don’t know how long it takes to heal, but it can’t be too quick.”

A delay actually could enable Jones to be on the same timetable as Silva should he defeat Weidman over Fourth of July weekend. Just don’t think it will be easy to convince Jones to face “The Spider.”

He wants Gustafsson for more reasons than just the record for title defenses. The Swede’s 6-foot-5 frame, strange as it sounds, attracts Jones.

“A lot of people believe that I’ve been successful because I appear to be larger than my opponents,” Jones said. “And if I beat Alexander Gustafsson, that would be no more.”

There’s also the issue of Lyoto Machida, who’s the anointed light heavyweight top contender at the moment. White didn’t want to dive into specifics.

He understands the excitement for what’s next after every time Jones fights, but there are other factors to sort out first.

“We’ve got to see what happens with Jones, how long he’ll be out, and we’ll go from there,” White said.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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