4 Reasons Jon Jones Is the Most Important Fighter to the UFC Right Now
Typically liberal in speaking his mind, Jon Jones made the claim that God put him on this planet to do martial arts during the pre-fight conference call for UFC 159.
Five years ago, with only a JUCO wrestling championship to his name, Jones' claim would have sounded utterly preposterous.
Today, however, with the fifth straight defense of his UFC light heavyweight belt on the horizon, Jones' statement during the pre-fight conference call for UFC 159 seemed rather accurate.
In early 2011, Jones smashed Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128 to snatch the title by force. By doing so, "Bones" began his transformation from 205-pound prospect to the UFC's most coveted and polarizing figure.
Here's why Jones has become the most important fighter to the UFC right now.
Although Jones has stood at the top of the heap at 205 since UFC 128, the 25-year-old New York native astoundingly remains the youngest light heavyweight in the company.
With the best years of his career still in his near future, Jones—who's set to lock horns with fading 36-year-old Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 on Saturday—can continue to act as a catalyst in the sport's development by simply winning.
Doing so against Sonnen shouldn't strain Jones too much, according to the oddsmakers. Bovada.com has deemed Bones an 8-to-1 favorite (-800) to best The American Gangster (+500).
A win for Jones is particularly important because the sport's other two biggest draws, Georges St-Pierre and pound-for-pound kingpin Anderson Silva, each have limited time left in their prolific careers.
Just five minutes after making the Jon "Bones" Jones line available last Friday, it became apparent that Nike had made the proper decision to capitalize off the light heavyweight champ's fame.
According to Jones' manager, Malki Kawa, the Nike Free Trainer 5.0 (Jon "Bones" Jones edition) training shoe became available at 9 a.m. on Friday and sold out online almost instantly.
Granted, Jones has yet to genuinely morph into the crossover superstar that the UFC's brass envisioned he'd become by now, but he undeniably took a step in the right direction by landing a monumental deal with Nike.
Ability to Finish
Regardless of the fighter or the organization, MMA fans worldwide enjoy watching enthralling fights that end in either a submission or a knockout.
Of his 12 bouts in the UFC, Jones has only allowed Andre Gusmao (his first opponent), Stephan Bonnar (his second foe) and Rashad Evans to make it to the judges' scorecards.
Bones has scored impressive finishes on every other opponent he's faced in the UFC—with the exception of Matt Hamill, who Jones dominated before getting disqualified against for dropping illegal 12-to-6 elbows.
Jones has piled up five wins via submission and three by TKO since joining the UFC in the summer of 2008.
Extraordinary Athleticism and Talent
With an 84.5-inch reach, freakish wrestling chops, unorthodox and venomous striking abilities and slick submission skills, Jones can do virtually anything at any time inside the Octagon.
Bones, the middle brother of two NFL players in Arthur and Chandler Jones, has learned from coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn to optimize his raw athletic gifts at Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
In doing so, Jones has rather easily claimed the scalps of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort, among several others.
With his heyday still ahead of him, there's no telling how many feathers will sink into the cap of Jones by the time he hangs up his gloves.