As the lights went down in Newark, the packed arena all stopped to take a collective breath before Jon “Bones” Jones, the prodigious 23-year-old, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, the master of the old guard made their way to the octagon.
The hype train attached to Jones, the vision of the American golden boy, didn’t seem to faze the Greco-Roman specialist as he seemed to stare through the Brazilian muay-thai machine. The champion chose to pin his eyes to his young opponents chest in yesterday’s weigh in, almost second guessing Jones’ unorthodox stare down.
As Jones’ stepped in to the cage and went about his traditional warm up, there was anticipation and fire in his eyes. However, when Rua entered the enclosure he was calmness personified, not even looking in the direction of his adversary until prompted to do so.
Not that this spooked Jones’, but his demeanor changed, appearing more apprehensive. The two touched gloves and so began the bout that would decide the light heavyweight championship.
Round one saw Jones going for a flying knee immediately, mixing up his striking with high kicks and a spinning back elbow. The young contender then took Shogun down with ease, passing to half guard. The champion got back to full guard and began throwing up legs looking for a triangle choke. Jones controlled the fight with his impressive top game, looking to drop powerful elbows.
Even when the fight went back to the feet Jones looked to have the advantage, regardless of the Brazilian’s striking pedigree. Despite Shogun staggering about the ring for a minute and half, Bones couldn’t finish the champion before the bell sounded.
The second stanza saw Jones land a beautiful back elbow. The contender seemed to gain confidence in his striking game after his dominance in the first, staying on his feet until he knocked Rua down, from where he followed his opponent and took up top position. Once again, Jones was patient and consistent with his ground game. The reigning champion stumbled back to his corner at the end of the round.
Shogun shot for a leg lock in the beginning of the third, but in failing to secure the submission Jones ended up in the dominant position again, landing heavy strikes from Rua’s guard. Shogun managed to escape, but Jones met him against the cage and finished the champion with a beautiful knee from the Brazilian’s signature muay-thai clinch.
Jon “Bones” Jones became the youngest champion in UFC history at the tender age of 23.
From here, nothing is impossible for the young man. With his size he could go on to dominate the heavyweight division. Tonight he has cemented himself as one of the greatest in the game.
However, Rashad Evans, a Jackson’s MMA team mate of Jones’, entered the octagon and challenged the new champion to a bout. Controversial as it is, it could make for an excellent match up, with the two knowing each other inside out from their countless sparring sessions.