UFC 145: Jon Jones' Career-Defining Moments

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterApril 19, 2012

UFC 145: Jon Jones' Career-Defining Moments

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    This Saturday at UFC 145, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will face former champ and longtime division standout Rashad Evans.

    Simple as that, really, when you scrub away the muck. The biggest phenom in the young history of the sport faces the only light heavyweight left who has the stuff to beat him.

    It's been a dizzying ride to the top for Jon Jones. But if you got lost, don't worry. Just follow the trail of carnage. And follow this slideshow, too, for his career to date in a nutshell.

    (Photo h/t: Peace Magazine

10. Jon Jones' MMA Debut vs. Brad Bernard

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    Almost four years ago to the day, on April 12, 2008, 20-year-old Jonny Bones stepped into an MMA cage for the first time.

    He's spindly and he's raw, but it's him. It only took him 92 seconds to dispatch the fighting pride of Nashua, NH.  

9. Jon Jones' UFC Debut vs. Andre Gusmao

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    Jones rose up fast. And that's no rhetorical flourish.

    Four mere months after his debut, Jones had six stoppage wins under his belt and a UFC contract in his hand. In fact, his first three fights happened in the span of two weeks and lasted less than four-and-a-half minutes apiece on average.

    His first Octagon fight, at UFC 87, doubled as his first fight to go the distance.

8. Jon Jones vs. Stephan Bonnar

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    Jones' first big-name opponent. He controlled Bonnar en route to a decision win, which included an absolutely filthy suplex that heightened an already-growing buzz.

7. Most Dominant Loss Ever vs. Matt Hamill

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    In a way, those illegal 12-6 elbows were a good thing for Jones. No one likes to lose, but the DQ defeat to a bloodied Matt Hamill helped diffuse the hype a little bit, which, given its eventual white-hotness, probably diverted some pressure away from the former champ.

6. First Main Event vs. Brandon Vera

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    UFC's first event on the Versus network featured Jones in the main event. And the young didn't disappoint, earning Knockout of the Night honors for breaking Vera's face in what turned out to be a wild mismatch of skills.

5. Stops a Robbery

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    On the morning of his title fight, Jones entered folk hero status, at least temporarily, by working with coach Greg Jackson to foil the efforts of some guy trying to rob a little old lady.

4. Jon Jones Wins Belt from 'Shogun' Rua

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    Jones didn't just beat "Shogun" Rua to take the title belt. He broke him.

    Shogun's been inconsistent throughout his career, but this was the Shogun who punished Lyoto Machida in the fight before this one and ruined Forrest Griffin in the one after. To me, this is the fight that truly put the world on notice.

3. Jon Jones Dispatches Rampage

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    Quinton Jackson did what he could to get in the head of the young champ. It didn't work. Jones had his first title defense.

2. Survives First Scare vs. Machida

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    I don't know what stuck with me more: the fact that Machida arguably took a round from Jones for the first time in the champ's career, or the way Jones deposited Machida in a corner of the cage like a heap of dirty laundry.

1. Feud with Rashad

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    Jones himself says UFC 145 has given him his Ali/Frazier moment.

    Comparing anyone to Ali in the ring doesn't really stand up to scrutiny, but I think the real point in the comparison is that Jones has found himself a true and formidable rival in and out of the fighting arena. Evans also stands as Jones' final feasible challenger at 205 pounds.