This past Saturday night at UFC 172, Jon Jones stepped into the cage to defend his UFC light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira.
It was his seventh defense of his title, making him the longest reigning champion in the division’s history; the previous record holder was Tito Ortiz, who defended the title five times.
The fight itself was a blend of the expected and the unexpected; Jones dominated via his reach and unorthodox striking, but the grappling skills he demonstrated so early in his UFC career were not so easily applied against his gritty challenger.
Then, there was the question of eye pokes, which will give his detractors no small amount of ammunition by which to criticize his performance, which saw him win via scores of 50-45 on all judges scorecards.
Like many champions, Jones has faced his fair share of criticism, and it looks like it will not stop anytime soon; as long as he keeps winning, some fans of the sport will take exception with his methods while waiting for their chance to cheer when he eventually loses.
Now, his future looks to contain two very tough bouts: a rematch against Alexander Gustafsson and a fight with Daniel Cormier.
And yet, amid it all, there stands a fighter who is closing in on Anderson Silva’s record for title defenses, which stands at 10. Alongside Jose Aldo, Jones is working his way toward that benchmark of greatness; to break that record will be nothing less than a positive testimony of consistency and greatness, no matter how many people question the ways and means by which Jones wins.
Fighters such as Silva, Aldo and Jones are rarities in the sport; they're men capable of rising to any occasion, using their physical gifts and skills to constantly defeat their opponents. To retain a title in the UFC in any division is a hard task; yet now, Jones has accomplished this feat seven times.
What kind of man is Jones? Clearly, he is more than the some of his greater or lesser parts; indeed, he is the composite whole of a career that has seen him achieve remarkable things.
Despite the eye pokes, Jones looked excellent against Teixeira, dominating from a distance and up close, where Teixeira had his greatest chance to land his power shots.
Jones took some hard shots, going toe-to-toe with the challenger on more than one occasion, and still won the fight in decisive fashion.
When you look at Jones' career, he has made a habit of making good fighters look average. At UFC 172, he proved it was not a simple byproduct of his incredible reach; it was due to his use of brutal elbows, wrist control and a high fight IQ.
And to think he only started six years ago...