Ryan Bader’s ascension in the light heavyweight division was met by a brick wall in Jones, who grounded, pounded and choked Bader out in just under 10 minutes.
Former divisional kingpin Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was brutalized—in embarrassingly one-sided fashion—for nearly 13 minutes, which prompted an extremely rare response from Rua—a tap.
Jones again disposed of an iconic fighter—who’s accomplished far more than his contemporaries—and left an unforgettable mark on the landscape of MMA.
Six months later, Jones humiliated another former champion in Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. A bout that ended early in the fourth frame—by submission, I might add—was contested on the feet for a solid 90 percent of the bout, where “Bones” used fantastic range and well-calculated assaults to outstrike the heavy-handed Rampage.
Lyoto Machida would next meet Jones in the headlining bout of UFC 140. Machida mounted a very spirited attack in the first frame, but fell victim to the Jackson representative’s deep bag of goodies. A takedown, an elbow and a tremendous left hand left Machida on wobbly legs, and Jones shortly thereafter submitted his third consecutive former champion.
Jones needed less than 10 minutes to hand “The Dragon” his most damning defeat in professional combat.
After a four-month respite, Jones returned to face his fourth consecutive former champ of the division, Rashad Evans. Evans, perhaps due in part to his experience training with Jones, gave the champion his toughest test to date. This one amounted to little more than a kickboxing match but, ultimately, it was Jones who controlled pace, delivered nice shots and responded well to the surprising stingers delivered by Evans.
He exited the cage with a clear-cut unanimous decision.
In a simply baffling schedule, Jon Jones would meet his fifth (yes, fifth!) consecutive former UFC champion, Vitor Belfort. After an early scare that saw Jones entangled in a precariously tight armbar, the champion escaped and prevailed in shocking manner.
Vitor, known for his near-unparalleled hand speed, wanted nothing to do with a striking match with “Bones." That’s too bad: It may have at least produced a chance at victory. Rather, what we saw was more Jon Jones dominance and a sound thrashing of another upper-tier opponent.
There are very few challengers left in the UFC ranks who could conceivably defeat the champion.
When I say a few, I mean perhaps Dan Henderson (should he find a home for the “H-Bomb”), Alexander Gustafsson (should he continue to develop at an accelerated rate) and Glover Teixeira (if he can improve his defense in a major way and somehow solve the riddle of getting close to Jones).
I don’t have much faith in any of the aforementioned foes wrangling the title strap from Jones’ waist in the near future. In fact, he should rightfully be viewed as a massive favorite (though I’d love to see “Hendo” shock the world) against every name I’ve listed.
All that said, I think many of us are examining the wrong division entirely.
The man to defeat Jon Jones won’t be named Dan Henderson or Alexander Gustafsson. Hell, the man to beat Jones will not even typically campaign at 205 pounds, but 185 pounds.
You see where I’m going with this?
Anderson Silva is the only man who can, and will, dethrone Jon Jones. I recently spoke about the ways in which Anderson might find success against Jones, and after even more thorough examination of each man’s career, their feats and their strengths and weaknesses, I’ve reach a very, very certain decision.
You may not like it, but I believe it wholeheartedly.
Anderson Silva will defeat Jon Jones when this fantasy match is made (which I believe is inevitable) and he won’t look to draw this affair into the latter rounds. He won’t aim to produce a pronounced level of taunting in the process, he won’t be foolish enough to mistime his attacks and he will have absolutely no mercy.
Anderson Silva will crush the significantly less-polished practitioner who is Jon Jones.
Jones, while amazing with his versatile attack, lacks the fluidity of a lifelong martial artist and that’s what has guided me to this ultimate declaration.
Anderson Silva’s near inhuman ability to absorb punishment (the guy’s been rocked what: two, three times in his entire career?), identify his opponents' attacks before they have actually launched them and uncork pinpoint accurate counterstrikes, will prove the Kryponite to Jon’s thus-far perceived invincibility.
Silva will not be caught by range-finding kicks and he won’t be caught off-guard by the risky offensive that Jones loves to deliver. Furthermore, Jones will not find the takedown, which has been an integral part of his success. Silva is too slippery, and his mobility will keep him from being ensnared in the grip of Jones.
I’m going to build upon my bold claims and guarantee that Anderson Silva—today’s most refined, polished, flawless fighter—will dispose of Jon Jones inside of two rounds.
It’s time to stop the conjecture and tell it how it is.
Anderson can and will take the championship belt (if Jones is willing to risk that title in a championship fight) from Jon Jones.
It’s going to happen in 2013.