23-YEAR-OLD Jade Jones defended her Olympic title at the Rio games earlier this year, and the double Olympic taekwondo champion wants to become the first person in her sport to claim three medals, an aim which could be realised at Tokyo 2022.
Looking beyond 2022, Jones from Flint admits she could be tempted to take up mixed martial arts.
“Maybe into the future I’ll go to MMA, but for now no – one in the sport has ever got three Olympic gold medals, so I have to continue to get that,” she told BBC Sport.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s tempting to think ‘what else is out there’ and in MMA people earn millions.
“Taekwondo is an Olympic sport so it’s hard to get sponsors and hard to make money, but I just love it.”
Welsh wonder @LaurenW_TKD retains her title as Junior World Champion!
— GB Taekwondo ?? (@GBTaekwondo) November 21, 2016
There is evidence to suggest that Jones’ transition could be a seamless one, as she wouldn’t be the first to swap Olympic success for the bright lights of MMA.
American UFC star Ronda Rousey claimed a bronze medal in Judo at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and is now the most successful mixed martial artist in history.
Considering that the young Welsh fighter already has two Olympic goal medals, surely she could excel in the world of MMA.
Welsh UFC fighter Brett Johns certainly believes Jones has what it takes to make the switch: “[Rousey] is one of the highest profile mixed martial artists that has stepped foot on the planet,” Johns said.
“Why can’t we have that for Jade? What’s saying that she can’t be the next Ronda Rousey?
“I’d love to see her achieve that sort of status. There are a lot of successful mixed martial artists out there that have a background in taekwondo.
“I was a judo player and in my first MMA session I had my head boxed off.
“She’s young enough and it will be amazing to have a female Welsh mixed martial artist.
“We’ve got the males and now we can see if we can get the females in.”
No matter how much Jones loves taekwondo, the lure of MMA is strong due to the money involved.
But it is not a case of just jumping ship, she would essentially be adding another string to her bow by learning new skills in a sport which is bigger now than ever before.
Jones is currently preparing in Azerbaijan for the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Baku, and providing she manages to maintain her unbeaten record in 2016, she can expect to pocket just under £5000.
— GB Taekwondo ?? (@GBTaekwondo) December 8, 2016
While this figure may not seem like a particularly small amount, UFC is a different world financially, and can earn more than ten time that amount from just one fight.
There is no doubt that Jade Jones has the ability, and at 23 years old she certainly has time on her side – with the potential to dominate MMA in five or six years’ time.