It was just over a year ago that Jon Jones became the youngest UFC champion when he stopped Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128 to win the light heavyweight title, and reflecting on how much he has done since then is pretty amazing.
The 24-year-old has gone on to defend the title twice against former champions Lyoto Machida and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and was selected as 2011's fighter of the year for his four wins that year, all of which came by knockout or submission.
His next fight at UFC 145 will come against a former training partner who also held the title—Rashad Evans. Had it not been for Evans' injury that kept him from fighting Rua, Jones might not have won the title when he did.
Both know each other inside and outside the Octagon, but neither guy is the same since they last trained together at Greg Jackson's gym in Albuquerque, NM, and Jones knows this.
"My opponent believes he 'has my number' because of the time we spent training," Jones wrote in his blog at FoxSports.com. "While he is obviously familiar with how I fight, I am familiar with him too, and we didn't spend that much time training together. If you added up all the days we worked out together or sparred, we probably only trained together for a month. That's a ton of time to observe someone, but it's not like we spent years training with each other.
"And I’ve learned more in this past year after my opponent left the gym than in any other year in my career," Jones continued. "To do all that, I had to grow so much as a fighter and my opponent isn't thinking it through if he believes I am the same fighter I was even 12 months ago."
Since losing the title to Lyoto Machida almost three years ago, Evans has defeated four opponents, including Rampage, Phil Davis and Tito Ortiz. His last fight saw him dominating an undefeated prospect in Davis at the UFC on Fox 2 show.
"You’ve seen it in other sports, when a young guy comes on the scene and does well, people get excited and start writing and saying 'this guy can’t be beat,'" Jones said. "There’s a lot of hype about me right now; some media experts are saying I am unbeatable, but I know it's not true. I wouldn't bust my tail so hard in the gym if I was unbeatable."
The entire blog entry is available at FoxSports.
UFC 145 will be available on pay-per-view on April 21 and will be broadcast live from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Other main-card bouts include Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills, Brendan Schaub vs. Ben Rothwell, Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin and Mark Bocek vs. Matt Wiman.