After obliterating Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128 to become the youngest champion in UFC history, matchmaker Joe Silva pitted Jones, the newly minted champ, against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 135 for his first title defense.
With all the hype in the world surrounding him and the pressure to live up to his potential looming as a thick veil of uncertainty, Jones put on a masterful performance.
Rampage has certainly not been the most dominant light heavyweight of all time, nor has he looked particularly impressive in the latter stages of his career. That said, he can still punch through sheet metal, and he looked to be in phenomenal shape in this fight.
The fact that Jones beat him is not surprising, but the method in which he did so is quite startling. The best thing to take away for Jackson in this fight is the fact that he stuffed some takedown attempts.
Granted, he gave up some takedowns, including a crucial one that eventually resulted in his end, but stuffing a Jon Jones takedown attempt is no small feat.
Jones could not take him down at will, and that is really the only positive to take away for Jackson. Aside from this, he was continually picked apart from a distance, beaten in the clinch game and battered on the ground.
Rampage had a puncher's chance, and he could do nothing to get inside and land bombs.
Rampage's chances at UFC 135 were exactly like Belfort's tonight at UFC 152. If "The Phenom" can get inside and tag Jones with hard punches, he has a very real chance at victory. Otherwise, expect Jones to employ his "business as usual" dominance we have become accustomed to seeing inside the Octagon.
From this fight, Belfort can take away how not to fight Jones standing. You cannot be afraid to eat a little leather on the way in, and if you wait too long to get inside, he will establish a rhythm and pick you apart until he decides the stand-up game bores him and turns to his wrestling.
Furthermore, Belfort can look at some of his failed takedown attempts, see how Jackson avoided them and look to enact some similar tactics tonight.
Really, Rampage laid a blueprint showing exactly how not to fight Jones, and Belfort can learn a significant amount of information from this.
Against Rampage, "Bones" showed why he is the best light heavyweight in the world, a legacy he continues to forge today. Can he do the same to Belfort tonight?
History says yes, and who am I to disagree with the facts of yesteryear?