Jon Jones (9-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and Brandon Vera (11-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) could be headed up a division around the same time.
The light heavyweight headliners of UFC on Versus 1 spoke Tuesday to media about their March 21 fight, and both said a trip to the heavyweight division is not out of the question in two years, give or take.
It would be Vera's second run in the weight class since June 2008, when the UFC urged him to drop to 205 pounds after losses to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdrum. Jones has served his young career at light heavyweight but said his still-growing frame may support a move up.
Both fighters are coming off controversial losses in their most recent performances, but are still considered to be in the top echelon of UFC light heavyweights. The winner of the March 21 fight could be on the road to a fight for the next title contender spot in the division.
Vera, once a red-hot prospect in the heavyweight division, is tagged as the more experienced competitor, while Jones rides a wave of hype as the "next big thing" among 205-pound fighters.
Size-wise, they're equals, but that may not always be the case.
The 22-year-old Jones, an upstate New York native, is the smallest of his siblings. His older brother, Arthur Jones, walks around at 300-plus pounds and enters the NFL draft this year as a veteran of Syracuse University. His younger brother, Chandler, tips the scales in the 250-pound range and is set to begin his Syracuse football career this fall.
Although he's the middle sibling, Jon Jones could have some growing to do.
"If he fills out like those guys, yeah," Ryan Ciotoli, Jones' manager and trainer, said to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) regarding a possible move to heavyweight. "Right now, he's skinny, but you see a lot of guys fill out in their late 20's early 30's. I could see him putting on 20 or 30 pounds."
Ciotoli said Jones walks around at 210 pounds between fights but adds 10 pounds in camp.
"I've always been really skinny, but I'm growing every day, and I see myself getting stronger and (I'm) realizing my balance and realize what I can do with my body," Jones said.
With Vera, Jones is focused on what could be the biggest test of his career. The light heavyweight division is the obvious priority, but if he catches up to his brothers, it might be a different story.
"It's definitely something that I'm not counting out, especially being 22," Jones said. "By the time I'm 24, who knows what my body is going to do."
Vera, meanwhile, sees a move to heavyweight means as the pursuit of a long-held dream in his fight career – to be the first UFC fighter to simultaneously hold two titles in two different weight classes.
"I'm still on track for that," Vera said, adding later, '"I'm not going to retire until I get to that goal where I reach for the stars."
Like Jones, Vera said he has a long way to go in the light heavyweight division before he can entertain thoughts of jumping weight classes, but it's in the back of his mind nonetheless.
And Vera isn't concerned about being an undersized heavyweight among the massive fighters who now populate the division. He'd bulk up with his diet and a weight training regimen.
"I don't give a damn how much weight they cut, or how big the guys get, or how strong they look," he said.
But before he does that, he has to derail the Jones hype train.
"I don't see that happening for at least another year or maybe two years," Vera said. "I still have a lot of work to do at the 205 division. I can't bounce back and forth; I know that now. There's no way I could bounce back and forth and perform the way I want to perform."