After Jon Jones' dismantling of 205-lb great Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, Joe Rogan was quick to say "that he [Jones] might be the greatest talent that we've ever seen."
I, for one, cannot disagree. Every time that we watch him fight, his rapid improvement is always evident.
I watched in utter shock and disbelief as one of my favourite fighters, Mauricio Rua, was taken to school by a very young man who had only trained in this sport for three years.
Talent can be defined as the ability to perform, and Jones does more than just that.
He executes impressive techniques (that would take others much longer to even learn, let alone perform) at a startling rate of effectiveness. Spinning elbows, spinning kicks and suplexes are just a few of the amazing things we have seen him do.
As I mentioned earlier, some of the things that Jones has picked up in a short period of time can take others much longer to learn.
For example, his control from the top is great; he is able to distribute his weight in such a way that he exhausts his opponents. He has the ability to deliver wicked ground-and-pound and he can execute intricate choke holds that favour his length.
He knows what works for him.
Perhaps the most significant aspect that supports the title of this article is Jon Jones' creativity. He is an artist. When you think of the all-time greats—regardless of sport—you always think of those with an innovative flair, an ability to make it up as they go along.
Is Jon Jones the greatest talent that MMA has ever seen?
Jon Jones is inventive, spontaneous and most significantly, independent.
When you think of Muhammad Ali, you think of the Ali Shuffle; when you think of Roy Jones Jr., you think of the infamous hands behind his back knockout; when you think of Anderson Silva, you think of a reverse elbow that knocks an opponent's spark out.
Jon Jones is no different, ladies and gentlemen.
Even in his UFC debut we saw that the young, raw prospect had the capacity for creativity. Spinning back elbows, anyone? Jon Jones is the Picasso of mixed martial arts; for him, the cage is a canvas where he can paint an absolute masterpiece—or masterclass, for that matter.
Seven fights onward from his UFC debut, he is now the youngest UFC champion in history—and the best of him is yet to come.
All of this raises a question though: If he continues to improve at this staggering pace, what will this prodigy look like five fights later?
Jones is frightening, brilliant and marvelous to behold inside the cage. If he wants to truly tap into his full potential, then he must stay grounded, humble and focused as he has been thus far, because genius is a step away from madness.