UFC: Is Jon Jones Receiving the Easy Road to Legendary Status?
Jon Jones is, without a doubt, one of the most talented and physically-gifted competitors inside of the UFC Octagon. His fights are for the most part completely one-sided beatdowns in which his opponents offer little resistance to his dominance.
Yet when I look at the record of Jon Jones, even though it is eye-pleasing with big names attached to a wealth of UFC and Pride victories, are they the most deserving of fighting for the championship?
A closer look at Jones' opponents have me questioning the legitimacy of his title reign due to the lack of success that each challenger has had prior to their respective title fights.
Jones himself was elevated to a championship fight without defeating a true top-10 fighter (I do not criticize his journey to the Light Heavyweight championship). Since capturing gold from Mauricio Rua, Jones has defended his title against Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort, and now has an upcoming bout against Chael Sonnen.
A closer look at these fighters may open one's eyes.
Rampage Jackson scored his title fight after losing to Rashad Evans, squeaking by Lyoto Machida and winning against Matt Hamill, securing his title fight. His record was a questionable 2-1 heading into the Jones title fight. Jackson was also considered to be on a steep downside of his career.
Next up was Lyoto Machida, whom, prior to his title fight, was showcasing a record of 1-2 in his last three fights. Losses to Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson didn't stop any title momentum as he defeated a retiring Randy Couture to earn his title fight.
Would Machida have been cut after a third straight loss to Randy Couture and his fourth consecutive poor performance inside of the Octagon?
Is the UFC giving Jon Joes an easy path to legendary status?
Rashad Evans, the man whom was seemingly passed over for title fights finally received his opportunity next. Evans posted a 4-0 record heading into his title fight with wins over Thiago Silva, Quinton Jackson, Tito Ortiz and Phil Davis.
Out of all of Jones' opponents, thus far, Evans was the most deserving of his chance. With Dan Henderson being in the UFC at this time, was Rashad Evans the best suited for a title fight?
Vitor Belfort, yes, the middleweight, catapulted to the top of the light heavyweight division without earning a single victory inside of the light heavyweight division.
Does that have you thinking? Belfort posted a blazing record of 2-1 as a middleweight prior to his championship fight with Jon Jones. He lost to Anderson Silva and defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama and Anthony Johnson, who missed the weigh-in by an alarming 12 pounds and was cut from the UFC roster afterward.
Amazingly enough, neither fighter was top ten in the middleweight division. Vitor Belfort, seriously?
Now we come to Jones' next opponent, Chael Sonnen, another fighter who hasn't earned a single victory in the light heavyweight division but has seemingly "earned" a title fight.
There really is no excuse for this one. There were plenty of opponents out there other than the one-dimensional wrestler who talked his way into a title fight. Sonnen has posted a recent record of 2-2 at middleweight with wins over Brian Stann and Michael Bisping.
Chael Sonnen offers absolutely no threat to Jon Jones and is not considered a legend of the sport. Sonnen would have been better suited facing Rampage Jackson or Rashad Evans.
The real question now is why are legitimate fighters who have earned a chance to fight the champion being passed over for the same old fighters?
Maybe the most laughable concept was the four-way dance that Dana White and the UFC brainstormed where the most outstanding performer earned a title shot. These fighters included Brandon Vera, Ryan Bader, Mauricio Rua, and Lyoto Machida, all of who have already been dominated by Jon Jones, with only one lasting into the third round.
None of these fights went to a decision, and all of those fights were relatively recent.
Even though the UFC is seemingly trying to hide it, the fact is, there are top contenders out there, and two of those fighters are standing out from the pack.
Dan Henderson has posted a recent record of 7-1 in his last eight fights and is considered a true legend of the sport. He left Strikeforce as the light heavyweight champion and is coming off a "fight of the year" performance. At 42 years of age, one might think the UFC would be doing everything in their power to make this fight happen.
Alexander Gustafsson is the other standout. The rising star has a career record of 14-1 thus far, with a 7-1 record inside of the UFC while displaying power and technical ability.
Then you have an outside possibility with Daniel Cormier, who has posted a 9-0 career record and is currently the Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
These potential fights are worth an entire year of work for the champion. It gives the division a chance to sort out the top 10 while creating new contenders. Furthermore, I believe the aforementioned contenders have the most potential to win against Jones.
With the UFC putting on shows with obvious outcomes and declining ratings, one must think that it might be time Dana White and company return foremost to making fights that are competitive.
Though I believe that Jon Jones is already the best light heavyweight champion to date, the only conclusion I can draw is that the UFC is protecting Jon Jones as they search or attempt to recreate the second coming of Anderson Silva.
The worst part about this type of matchmaking is that the fans suffer the most.
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