Ranking Every One of Jon Jones' UFC Title Defenses
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones provides one of the most unique skill sets in all of MMA.
His meteoric rise to the top of the 205-pound division saw him break records (and bones) in dramatic, sometimes unbelievable fashion.
With a dominant wrestling base, tricky submissions and a creative, rangy striking game, Jones has not only rattled off four consecutive title defenses in the past two years—he has done so with ease.
While Bones looked phenomenal in each of these title defenses, some were undeniably more impressive than others. Let's take a look at how they compare.
Note: Quality of opposition, ease of victory, and significance of victory were considered when compiling the list.
No. 4: Vitor Belfort
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Jones' most recent title defense against Vitor Belfort was his worst for several reasons.
First, and most importantly, Belfort really had no business challenging for the title in the first place.
Thanks to an injury suffered by Dan Henderson before his UFC 151 matchup with Jones and Lyoto Machida's refusal to take the fight as Henderson's replacement on short notice, Belfort became the new challenger to Bones' 205-pound strap by default.
Even worse, "The Phenom" almost pulled off the shocking upset with a first-round armbar attempt.
On one hand, I feel like this is one of Jones' better title defenses because of his ability to escape the armbar and continue to dominate the rest of the fight.
It showed his heart and determination, something that hadn't been tested to this point in his career.
Still, he almost lost to somebody who had not competed at light heavyweight for years, and that is a blemish on his otherwise spotless run.
Make no mistake: Jones absolutely wrecked Belfort after the scare in Round 1, but when you consider the fact that his other title defenses are damn-near perfect, you have to start splitting hairs somewhere.
No. 3: Rashad Evans
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Jones' UFC 145 matchup against Rashad Evans was by far his most boring and uninspired performance inside the Octagon to date.
Sure, he bested Evans in every aspect of the game in this bout, but Bones just did not appear as hungry and ferocious as he had in previous fights in this one.
To Jones' credit, this fight was probably the most mentally challenging test of his life, and I am sure fighting a former friend and training partner is an awkward engagement.
These former ties certainly showed in the fight, and Jones never looked to force Evans into bad positions for the bout's duration.
In all, this one was a solid showing from Jones, but it was far from exciting or mind blowing like the next two on the list.
No. 2: Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson
Jon Jones destroyed Rampage Jackson at UFC 135. Truly, this fight was not close at any point.
The young champion picked Rampage apart with kicks and quick punches for the first three rounds, opting to outpoint Jackson in dominant fashion rather than to pursue an early finish.
In Round 4, Jones decided playtime was over, and he took Rampage down and quickly submitted him with a rear naked choke.
It was hilariously easy for Jones, and this fight marked the moment that everybody stepped back and said, "This kid is something special."
Granted, Jones' past performances in the Octagon already had hardcore fans and critics grumbling about his superiority, but the grumbles turned to a chorus of harmonious praises following his destruction of Rampage.
No. 1: Lyoto Machida
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Lyoto Machida is a bad, bad dude.
Lauded for his quick and accurate, darting striking style, Machida is often termed a "riddle" inside the Octagon. At this point, everybody understood that Jon Jones was a rare specimen inside the cage, but could he crack Machida's code?
Yes, he could. And the result looked something like this.
After a scary Round 1 that saw Machida execute his game plan to perfection, Bones' supporters felt a wave of nervousness wash over them as the previously untouchable champion looked to be headed for defeat at the hands of "The Dragon."
That changed after a quick takedown and some savage elbows from Jones opened a cut on Machida in Round 2, causing the challenger to lose focus just enough for Bones to pounce.
And pounce he did.
A vicious left dropped Machida, and Jones immediately locked up a high-elbow guillotine against the fence. After a brief struggle, Machida succumbed to unconsciousness, and Jones dropped his foe to the canvas in emphatic fashion.
After the finish, Bones hopped into the swag wagon and confidently strut around the Octagon as if to say, "Machida? Please."
This performance stands as Bones' most impressive title defense, and one could take this sentiment a step further and say it is his best fight overall. The finish was dramatic, the stakes were high, his opponent was ready and capable...and Jones still obliterated him.