The victory is bittersweet for Jones, as he's slated to face former training partner and friend Rashad Evans in his first light heavyweight title defense. Regardless of the intricacies regarding the situation, though, Jones passed a very tough test and can now openly be considered by even his most skeptical critics that the kid has the tools to be anyone he faces.
Jones out-struck one of MMA's all-time best strikers, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. That's no small feat.
Yes, he has the longest reach in the UFC. Yes, he had a few inches in height compared to Shogun. The beauty, though, is that we may be witnessing the fighter that may indeed surpass Anderson Silva's eventual title reign.
And dare I mention an eventual "middleweight vs. light heavyweight" catchweight match between champions if GSP doesn't make a decision here soon?
In his victory over Shogun, Jones used his physical prowess, technique, improvisation, speed and power to beat Shogun in every facet of fighting. From standing to the ground, even Shogun's seemingly indomitable will succumbed to Jones' slaughter.
So what's the limit to the future for the new champ? Seemingly endless. That's not to say he won't have trouble; only that by beating Shogun, a decorated veteran striker, Jones has become an even tougher puzzle to figure out.
In terms of weakness, one could take his Shogun fight to show a need for better conditioning. Jones showed visible signs of being winded in round one. Perhaps this was due to nerves (understandably, if so), or maybe he pulled a Shane Carwin and used as much power as possible to score an early knockout or submission.
Jones also fought differently in this fight by initially allowing Shogun to be the aggressor. Shogun capitalized on a few brief windows, landing a few strikes here and there, but nothing substantial. And he certainly couldn't stop the takedown, as many predicted.
However, during the second round, Jones really set the tempo by landing strike after strike with impressive, Spider-like accuracy. Not only that, Shogun didn't know whether to defend, counter or attempt a last ditch submission attempt. Such effective innovation to this degree is rarely seen in MMA, and it should be admired.
What did we learn from this? Jones can handle pressure, he can step his game up where needed and he can most certainly deliver a beating in an artistic way that few fighters can.
Jones may not have had the same confident fluidity as usual, but he still delivered in the same impressive manner we're used to. With time, we will likely see him become more confident, and this is where people's interest will likely be held.
At least MMA fans can rest their doubts, assured that Jones is the real deal. He will finally get the respect we deserve. Congratulations to the new champ.