Jon Jones: A Technical Breakdown of Each of His UFC Victories
The mixed martial arts community may be up in arms over UFC Light-Heavyweight champ Jon Jones' decision to not fight Chael Sonnen. This culminated in the cancellation of UFC 151, but the fact remains, he is still one of the most exciting and talented fighters in the world.
Now set to take on Vitor Belfort at UFC 152, a win over the Brazilian would be Jones' fifth straight victory over a former UFC champ.
Let's take a look at Jones' journey to MMA stardom as we breakdown each of his UFC wins.
Just four months into his professional MMA career, Jones made his UFC debut at UFC 87, taking on Renzo Gracie-product André Gusmão on just two weeks notice.
Despite being the heavy underdog, Jones put on a dominant performance while showcasing both his creative striking and powerful Greco-Roman wrestling.
"Bones" was the aggressor from the get go. He controlled the center of the Octagon and made Gusmão fight his fight.
Jones' striking, while not as crisp and clean as today, was heavy on hand combinations with the occasional spinning back elbow and back kick techniques sprinkled in. However, these strikes were mostly used to close the distance.
Bones did most of his damage from the clinch, hitting Gusmão with knees and short punches from the inside. From there, Jones also worked his wrestling, utilizing a variety of throws he learned from the Greco-Roman style.
While not his most technically sound performance, the fact that Jones was able to dominate and take a lopsided unanimous decision after only four months as a pro speaks volumes.
Taking on a tested veteran in Stephan Bonnar at UFC 94, Jones really showed off his strength in this fight.
Again using a combination of great wrestling and odd strikes, Jones simply overpowered Bonnar.
Standing up, Bones was able to land a huge spinning elbow that nearly knocked Bonnar out in the first round.
Jones' Greco-Roman wrestling completely overwhelmed his opponent. Bonnar was thrown all around the cage and just couldn't stop Jones' takedowns.
However in the third round, Bones' cardio clearly began to wane but he was able to hold on for the unanimous decision victory.
Jones landed on his first big card when he took on Jake O'Brien at UFC 100.
Unlike his previous fights, O'Brien was actually the aggressor but Jones was able to keep him at bay.
The two big factors for Jones were his takedown defense and the utilization of his reach to stifle O'Brien. This allowed Bones to control the fight standing up where he picked apart O'Brien with a variety of strikes.
In the second round, Jones landed a huge spinning back elbow that caused O'Brien to stumble towards the cage. Jones then pounced on his hurting foe and quickly latched onto his neck for a modified guillotine choke that rendered O'Brien unconscious.
Jones took a step up in the competition when he took on Matt Hamill in December of 2009. However, the rising star got a little over zealous in this bout, landing a myriad of illegal elbows that culminated in his first official loss, albeit by disqualification.
Bones made sure that he wouldn't make the same mistake again when he took on Brandon Vera, especially as the main event at the March 2010 UFC Live show.
Like the bout with Hamill, Jones easily put Vera on his back in the first round and rained down with elbows—this time of the legal kind.
From the top guard, Jones repeatedly hit Vera in the face with these sharp strikes that were so powerful they broke Vera's face in three places.
Taking his first UFC win via TKO, Jones also earned himself Knockout of the Night honors with this devastating finish.
During this point in Jones' career, his strategy seemed to focus on quickly taking these veterans down so he could blast them away with ground strikes.
Jones was easily able to do this as the headliner at UFC Live in August of 2010, this time against former IFL champ Vladimir Matyushenko.
Taking him down in the first round, Bones was able to transition into the crucifix position, leaving Matyushenko helpless on his back as he was unable to escape.
Jones proceeded to land a ton of vicious elbows before the referee intervened. It was this dominant performance that would earn Bones a step up in the competition.
Jones put on another dominant performance when he took on Ryan Bader at UFC 126.
Easily stuffing the former TUF winner's takedowns throughout the bout, Jones showed just how good his grappling is by dominating the wrestling-minded Bader on the mats. Bones also showcased both his submission defense and offense as well.
Jones took Bader down with a solid double leg in the first round but nearly fell prey to Bader's guillotine, but was able to roll out in the top north-south position. Bones tried to latch on a choke of his own but Bader just barely escaped.
After a brief standup exchange, Bader once again shot in for a takedown but was completely stuffed and put on his back. In top half-guard, Jones looked for the choke again but Bader was able to avoid it, standing back before attempting a kimura.
Jones could have been in trouble at this moment but Bader was unable to keep the sub locked in as he fell back to his guard.
In the second round, Bones pushed the pace standing up forcing Bader to look for the takedown again. Easily stuffing the shot, Jones tied his opponent up and used a Greco-Roman trip to put Bader in bottom half-guard.
From there, Jones was finally able to latch on a choke forcing Bader to tap.
Not only did Bones take home another Fight Night bonus, but he also earned himself a shot at the title.
While Jones was easily able to dominate the competition up until his UFC 128 title fight, watching his destruction of then champ Shogun Rua was jaw dropping.
It was a technically brilliant fight on Jones' part. Having a significant reach advantage, he made sure to keep Shogun at a distance in order to avoid his powerful Muay Thai strikes.
Not allowing Shogun inside, Jones proceeded to batter him with all kinds of strikes, utilizing great combinations to Shogun's legs, body and head that kept the now former champ guessing. Jones also showed off his ability to transition smoothly from striking to takedowns, easily putting Rua on his back.
Let's not forget Jones' creativity in this fight either.
The first strike he threw was a flying knee in the opening seconds that really set the tone for the fight. From that point forward, Jones showed off an array of beautiful strikes, hitting Shogun with spinning elbows against the cage and even a spinning elbow from top guard after faking a submission attempt towards the end of the second round.
In Round 3, Shogun looked like a mess and it was only a matter of time before Jones would end things. After getting pounded on the ground, Shogun barely was able to stand up giving Jones the perfect opportunity to pounce.
Bones then hit Shogun with huge body and head strikes against the cage before falling to the ground as the ref mercifully called an end to the fight.
This utter destruction remains one of Jones' most dominant performances to this day.
With his new belt in hand, Jones would defend his title for the first time at UFC 135 against Rampage Jackson.
Jones actually had a harder time than usual putting his opponent on the ground. Rampage was able to defend pretty well against the takedown but still ate a ton of shots in the clinch.
The champ once again used his reach to his advantage, landing a ton of leg kicks and body kicks to keep Rampage at bay. Jones also showed some solid hand combinations that he used to close the distance.
Looking for a way to bring the fight to the mats, Jones surprised Rampage at the end of the second round by jumping guard and trying to lock in a triangle choke right before the bell rang in another creative display.
After wearing Rampage down with strikes and dominating in the clinch, Jones finally got the fight to the ground early in Round 4. Driving Rampage down to the ground against the fence while in the clinch, Rampage's grappling weakness was exposed as he turned the right into the rear naked choke.
Jones didn't even put in his second hook before Rampage tapped for his first submission loss in the UFC.
Lyoto Machida would prove to be Jones' toughest challenge to date at UFC 140, but not a puzzle the champ couldn't crack.
Machida's karate style gave Jones trouble in the first round as the footwork and blitzing techniques caught him off guard. The former champ was able to move in and out very well on Jones, landing a flurry of strikes towards the end of the first round that caused Jones to stumble.
Jones made the necessary adjustments in the middle of the second round, taking the fight to the ground with a nice takedown against the fence as he knew standing with Machida was a bad idea. From the top position, Bones landed a huge elbow that cut Machida open.
After a brief moment in the clinch, Jones threw a heavy left hand and knees to the gut that really hurt Machida who mistakenly left his neck out for the champ to latch onto. Able to secure the standing guillotine choke, Jones quickly put Machida to sleep for his second straight title defense.
Headlining UFC 145 against friend-turned-rival Rashad Evans, Jones was able to dominate the former champ, but the fight didn't really live up to the hype.
Like all his previous bouts, Jones' reach was a huge asset as he was able to pick Evans apart from the outside before moving into the clinch. However, Jones wasn't as active as usual and didn't seem to be aggressively pushing the pace as much.
Things got a little wild in the second round though as Jones was able to land some huge lead elbows that sent Evans stumbling towards the canvas.
But other than that brief moment, Jones was quite conservative with his strikes—well, by his standards—and seemed content picking Evans apart.
While not as exciting as his previous fights, Jones was able to defend his title and take the unanimous decision win.