JON JONES EYES BROCK LESNAR FOR HUGE PAYDAY

It didn’t take Rochester product Jon Jones long after he stopped Daniel Cormier in the third round last Saturday night for the UFC light heavyweight title to call out WWE- and former UFC “monster” Brock Lesnar for a future “superfight.”

After classy remarks praising the vanquished Cormier, Jones looked straight into the camera and said to the absent Lesnar, “You want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by someone 40 pounds lighter? Meet me in the Octagon.”

Jones and his team know full well that Lesnar – with a mere 5-3 record in the UFC and currently serving a drug suspension – is a larger-than-life mega-draw in pro wrestling and in MMA.

Jones would need to put on considerable weight to fight Lesnar, but I’m sure he could it and maintain a significant advantage over his 40-year-old opponent in speed, technique and stamina. The 30-year-old Jones, who prefers to fight at 205 pounds  has said he’d weigh around 225 pounds to fight Lesnar, who would need to drop weight to get to 265 pounds.

Of course, Jones could add the weight to take on UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miock, a relative unknown to most sports fans compared to Lesnar. But why should he? Lesnar would be easier to beat and for a lot more money.

After Jones’ victory over Cormier, UFC President Dana White hailed Jones as “the best to ever do it” (compete in UFC) despite his problems outside the Octagon.

Westgate SuperBook already has posted odds, with the stipulation that the fight must happen by Dec. 31, 2018: Jones -300 (bet $300 to win $100)...Lesnar +250 (bet $100 to win $250).

UFC 215 reportedly will be Sept. 9 in Edmonton. There is speculation that Jones could headline UFC 216 at Madison Square Garden in December.

NO SHORTAGE OF ACTIVE FUTURE BASEBALL HALL OF FAMERS

There are plenty of active veteran Major League Baseball players who project to be future Hall of Famers.

Among players with or closing in on 1,500 career games, here’s how I see it:

Likely first-ballot Hall of Famers – Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre (newest member of the 3,000-Hit Club and arguably among the all-time five-best third basemen) and Ichiro Suzuki.

Possible first-ballot Hall of Famers – Miguel Cabrera and Yadier Molina.

Other certain of Hall of Famers – Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano.

Other possible Hall of Famers (above 50 percent probability at this time) -- Joey Votto...Dustin Pedroia (has some nice numbers and intangibles will help).

Other possible Hall of Famers (below 50 percent probability at this time) – Joe Mauer (I’d vote for him but switch from catcher to first base hurt his chances)...Adrian Gonzalez (might need one or two more solid seasons)...Evan Longoria...Nelson Cruz (piling up the stats but anti-DH bias hurts).

Nice careers but not Cooperstown caliber – Chase Utley...Ryan Howard...Adam Jones...Matt Kemp...Matt Holliday...Hanley Ramirez...David Wright (injuries killed his hopes)...Ian Kinsler...Brandon Phillips...Jose Bautista...Edwin Encarnacion...Ryan Zimmerman...Curtis Granderson...Ryan Braun (PEDs will cost him votes)...Nick Markakis...Jose Reyes (he used to be very good)...Jayson Werth...Melky Cabrera...Brian McCann...Russell Martin.

They’ve also served – Jhonny Peralta...Aaron Hill...J.J. Hardy...Omar Infante.

SPRAYING BASEBALL HITS (AND MISSES) TO ALL FIELDS

Here’s another reason to think the New York Yankees will win the American League East: 14 of their last 17 games will be at home, where they’ve been very good this season (31-18 at Yankee Stadium and 25-29 on the road).

Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge before and after winning the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game break:  Before -- .329 batting average (99-for-303), 30 HRs, 66 RBI, 61 walks, 52 strikeouts...Since -- .167 batting average (9-for-54), 3 HRs, 8 RBI, 12 walks, 52 strikeouts.

Who was the greater base-stealer? Rickey Henderson 1,406 in 1,741 attempts (.808) or Tim Raines 808 in 954 attempts (.847)? I’m big on success rate. Raines gets my nod.

HUGE ROAD WIN SATURDAY FOR THE RATTLERS...

Rochester’s undermanned Major League Lacrosse Rattlers closed within one victory of a spot in the playoffs with an impressive 11-7 road win last Saturday over the Atlanta Blaze.

The Rattlers improved to 7-6 with third straight victory. Rochester can clinch the last of the four MLL playoff berths with a victory over the Ohio Machine in the regular-season finale this Saturday, 7 p.m., at Capelli Sport Stadium.

It won’t be easy. Ohio beat the visiting Rattlers 12-11 in overtime May 6 and the Machine’s 9-4 record is tied with Denver for MLL’s best. The Florida Launch finished the regular season 8-6 and has cliched the third playoff berth.

Saturday’s victory over Atlanta was particularly impressive because the Rattlers played minus top goal scorers Jordan Wolf (26 goals in 8 games) and Jeremy Boltus (20 goals in 10 games), and top playmaker Ned Crotty due to injuries and job commitments. Coach/GM Tim Soudan did another masterful job of juggling his roster.

Rochester’s goals were scored by Ty Thompson (2), Ryan McNamara (2), Jack Curran (in his first game of the season), Matt Dunn, Conor Gately, Jordan MacIntosh, Danny Moss (his third of the season made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Night), Kip Orban and Joel White.

Rattlers goalie John Galloway had 17 saves, including 7 in the fourth period, and was voted Coca-Cola Player of the Game.

A victory this Saturday would put Rochester in the semifinals August 12. The championship game will be August 19 in Frisco, Texas. The Rattlers won their only Steinfeld Cup in 2008.

...AND FOR THE RHINOS

The Rochester Rhinos also earned a big road victory last Saturday, beating FC Cincinnati before 23,548 fans at Nippert Stadium.

Coach Bob Lilley’s hard-working team earned three points in the standings in the opener of a three-game road swing. The Rhinos play Saturday at New York Red Bulls II and Tuesday, August 8 at the Harrisburg City Islanders.

The Rhinos return to Capelli Sport Stadium Saturday, August 19, 6:05 p.m., against the Charleston Battery.

The victory in Cincinnati boosted Rochester’s record to 8 wins, 3 losses and 8 draws with 13 games remaining in the United Soccer League regular season. The Rhinos are in fifth place in the 15-team Eastern Conference. They’re 6-1-3 home and 2-2-5 on the road.

Midfielder Wal Fall had two goals against Cincinnati – both on penalty kicks. Teammate Jochen Graf opened the scoring with a goal off the left post in the 12th minute.

RED WINGS ALSO BATTLING FOR A PLAYOFF BERTH

The Rochester Red Wings will host the Lehigh Valley IronPigs Tuesday through Thursday in a three-game series with serious playoff implications.

Lehigh Valley and the Red Wings trail first-place Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by 3 ½- and 6 games respectively in the International League North. IL West leader Indianapolis is 59-49 (3 ½ games worse than Rochester but would get an automatic berth in the four-team playoffs – I know that isn’t fair; complain to the Red Wings front office and to the International League) and Columbus – third in the wild-card race -- is 56-51.

The Red Wings (61-45 record with 36 games left in the regular season) won 2-0 Sunday in Toledo. Aaron Slegers, who is building a case for IL Most Valuable Pitcher, won his eighth straight start and boosted his record to 12-4 with a 3.13 ERA. He leads the league in victories.

Rochester’s runs came on solo home runs by Byron Buxton and ByungHo Park.

Buxton could return to Minnesota any day now. In three rehab games, he is 5-for-12 with 3 runs, 2 HRs and 2 RBI. In his 65 games in three career stops with Rochester, he’s batting .331 (85-for-257), with 14 doubles, 4 triples, 14 HRs, 27 RBI and 9 stolen bases in 10 attempts. Thank you very much.

Park started slowly this season due to an injury, but he’s heating up. He has lifted his batting average from .188 June 7 to .262 now. In 298 at-bats, he has 21 doubles, 2 triples, 9 HRs, and 40 RBI.

MAYWEATHER-McGREGOR COMING TO A THEATER NEAR YOU

If you think the $99.99 pay-per-view price for the August 26 “superduperepicstupendous” fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor is a tad outrageous, the event will be carried at movie theaters across the country.

Suggested charge: $40.

Theaters booked for Greater Rochester: Tinsletown, Henrietta Cinema 18 and Eastview Mall.

SHORT SHOTS

I don’t know who’ll start at quarterback for the New York Tanks Sept. 10 against the Bills at New Era Field, but Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg make me appreciate Tyrod Taylor all the more.

The ratings figure to be huge for the 30 for 30 on ESPN Tuesday, November 7, 10 p.m., for the premiere of “Nature Boy.” It will be an in-depth look at the life and time of pro wrestling legend Ric Flair.

Major League Baseball will open the 2019 and 2020 regular seasons in Asia -- remember when Opening Day always was in Cincinnati? Was that such a bad idea. Cleveland and Minnesota will play a two-game series in San Juan, Puerto Rico, next April 17-18.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, July 31

Linus Ullmark (24)...Victoria Azarenka (28)...Michael Bradley (30)...Evgeni Malkin (31)...Brian Orakpo (31)...Rene Rivera (34)...DeMarcus Ware (35)...Tim Couch (40)...Jonathan Ogden (43)...Gus Frerotte (46)...Andre Ware (51)...Chris Hinton (56)...Dale Hunter (57). JK Rowling (52). Wesley Snipes (55) and Mark Cuban (59) are invited to the birthday party. Former Miami Marlins [itcher Jose Fernandez was born on this date 25 years ago (1992) and died in a boat crash in 2016.

Tuesday, August 1

Austin Rivers (25)...Kennys Vargas (27)...Madison Bumgarner (28)...Mike Wallace (31)...Adam Jones (32)...Brandon Kintzler (33)...Edgerrin James (39)...Stacey Augmon (49)...Gregg Jefferies (50)...Bart Connor (56)...Geordie Robertson (58)...Roy Williams (67).