UFC 140 Results: Power Ranking All Jon Jones' UFC Fights
Jon Jones just disposed of Lyoto Machida easily on Saturday night and now there are many fans and pundits who believe that he is an unstoppable force at light heavyweight.
But was that always the case?
Going through all of his fights in the UFC and ranking each of his outings is something that might show fans not only the progression and evolution of the phenomenal young fighter. Leafing through old fights and seeing where he stood at the end of each is a great way to see where he might end up and what he might possibly have happen to him in the case of a loss.
Jones is now one of the biggest stars in MMA and arguably in popular culture, but it wasn't that long ago that he was fighting on UFC undercards and just labeled as some fresh faced kid who one day might be a champion.
Since Jones is so young, it seems appropriate to give him the standard alphabet letter grades that most people his age are still earning in college.
With that said, here is a retrospective look at Jones' UFC career up to this point.
UFC 87: Andre Gusmao
Jon Jones' first fight was an upset decision victory in the UFC.
That is right, Jones' first fight in the Octagon not only went the distance, but he was the underdog.
Up until that point, no one had heard of Jones, and it was the first time many saw him in action with his wild style of combat.
Jones wasn't even supposed to be on the card! He was actually a late replacement for Tomasz Dwarl who had to pull out of a fight with Gusmao.
In fact, so little was expected, and Jones was so unknown that the fight was not even shown on the main card after one of the fights ended early.
Things were still new to Jones, and he was walking in to the fight as a supposed victim instead of an opponent, but he was able to win by decision at least and he did so with such poise and on such short notice that he can be afforded a mulligan and get a slightly better grade then usual.
Grade for UFC 87: B-
UFC 94: Stephan Bonnar
This is the fight where people started raising an eyebrow when Jones' name was mentioned. Bonnar is a huge name, and even if he isn't what he once was in the UFC light heavyweight division, he still is a great promotional tool. It even got Jones on the main card.
And that is what he became for Jones, after the at-that-time young standout beat on him for three rounds. He did everything in his power to take Bonnar out and did so with so much gusto that he was worn out at the end of the fight.
It showed that Jones still needed some work with pacing himself, but it also got him his first highlight-reel move, as he was able to suplex Bonnar to the ground.
Considering that Bonnar just showed fans a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clinic in his fight at UFC 139, it is impressive to see that Jones was able to control him so well on the ground.
But Jones did gas at the end of the fight, and he did fail to KO Bonnar. Though that is by no means terrible, it does mean he doesn't get a higher grade than he otherwise might have gotten.
Grade for UFC 94: C+
UFC 100: Jake O'Brien
In what seems like a step down from the Bonnar fight, Jones got to compete on the biggest card in UFC history. Yet again, he was on the undercard, and because of fights like Lesnar-Mir 2, St-Pierre-Alves, and Henderson-Bisping.
And since his opponent wasn't nearly as famous as last time, the fight was largely ignored, and to this day, seems to have been forgotten.
It was a technically proficient fight, as Jones did what he needed to and stayed on the outside while he picked his opponent apart. He was able to finally deliver a back elbow, which he might soon patent considering the frequency he uses them with and was able to get the modified guillotine on O'Brien and submit him by the second round.
The submission was impressive though not the best of the night and the performance was decent, but nothing that made fans jump up and say that Jones was going to be a future champion.
Instead, it made most fans tab him as someone to watch who might fight for the belt at some point.
Overall, not the highlight of his career.
Grade for UFC 100: B-, but slightly more points than for the Gusmao fight.
The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale: Matt Hamill
After the O'Brien victory, it seemed like Jones' ship had arrived. He was on the main event for an Ultimate Fighter finale against Matt Hamill. It wasn't exactly a main event on a pay-per-view card, but it was a step in the right direction. All he needed to do was win.
And he didn't.
Somehow, Jones was able to dominate Hamill and cut him open while still losing the fight. The reason, of course, was because of disqualification.
Jones was winning the fight when he threw what is called a 12-6 elbow, which is a downward elbow strike. It is a ridiculous rule, and it actually can be argued that elbows from angles are far more vicious. However, whatever physics and martial arts may prove, rules are rules and Jones violated them.
The outcome was met with a lot of negativity by fans and the UFC staff. Jones was treated as if he had won, and that is the way it should be as well. Hamill even went as far to basically say that Jones won the fight.
Though the fight didn't hurt Jones' career and the rule that was put in place is foolish, he still should have found a way to win without getting disqualified.
Since he couldn't, he came up short.
Grade of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights Finale: D+
UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones: Brandon Vera
The UFC finally seemed to realize they had something special in Jones and put him on the main event of their first card on the Versus network. Even though most fans felt Jones had beaten Hamill and it was considered a horrible decision, the UFC still needed to rebuild their young, budding star.
Vera was the perfect fight to do that with. He was a former heavyweight contender and still had enough of a name in the UFC to get Jones a win.
Vera was his usual self. Cocky to the point of nauseating fans and being the perfect heel for fans to dismiss and hate.
He also walked into the Octagon against Jones and got dominated in the standup until Jones was able to take him down and land elbows, this time from the correct angle, until the fight was stopped because he had broken Vera's face.
In three different places.
The sound that the strike that shattered Vera's face made is still hard to listen to, and it instantly put Jones back to the point he had been before the Hamill loss and quite a bit past it.
The only way the fight execution could have gone better is if it was at the top level.
Grade for UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones: A
UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko: Vladimir Matyushenko
This time, Jones got to have his name be the top billing on the card.
It seemed that the UFC officials loved his results out on the card last time so much that he was given a quick return against grizzled veteran Vladimir Matyushenko.
It was a fight that should have tested Jones. After all, Matyushenko had been in the cage and gone the distance with a young Tito Ortiz. Instead, Jones was able to take him out much in the same way he had Vera, but this time without the face-breaking finale.
He was even able to do it a bit faster than in his last fight.
Though Matyushenko didn't seem to have sustained much damage from the elbows, Jones was throwing it was only matter of time before he did.
The amazing thing is that after that fight, Matyushenko has been able to dominate his last two opponents in the UFC.
At the time, however, it was regarded that Matyushenko might have been over the hill and Jones still had yet to face a real challenge.
Jones did a great job on winning, though, and in doing so, secured a higher spot on a future card for himself.
Grade for UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko: B, because after the Vera fight, all we expected out of him was sheer dominance.
UFC 126: Ryan Bader
This was Jones' coming-out party. He was finally being matched against a tough young fighter much like himself. To make it even better, Bader was coming off having won The Ultimate Fighter and his fights right after that.
In the eyes of most, having disregarded Jones' prior loss, this was a battle of young unbeatens with the winner claiming a stake as the top light heavyweight fighter to watch as a future champ.
It was considered by most at the time the fight that would finally test Jones.
That didn't happen.
Jones was able to bully Bader around the cage and do whatever he wanted with him. Ground, standup, up, down, top or bottom, it didn't matter the position or the pacing. It was Jones' fight all the way, and he was able to do what he wanted when he wanted.
The fight could have only gone better for "Bones" Jones if he was able to secure a definitive finish.
Which he did.
He was able to trap Bader in a guillotine, and with it, not only submitted his opponent and rival for fan affection and support, but also won submission of the night.
It was also the night that he was able to get an immediate title shot against "Shogun" Rua, as Rashad Evans had sustained a knee injury.
Jones only could have done it better if he had pulled it off in the first round.
Grade for UFC 126: A, but slightly higher than the one against Vera.
UFC 128: Mauricio
Jones was able to fight for the title only one month after beating Bader. It was a good thing that he sustained no injuries from it because he had to face an MMA legend in Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
There is some blemish to the win, as Rua was coming off a long layoff and hadn't stepped into the cage to compete in over a year. It may not be Jones' fault, but fans of Rua will always defend the fact that he was not able to have warmed up in a different fight while Jones literally was able to fight a championship match only one month after his last bout.
Still, Jones walked into the cage and moved away from any of Rua's traps while moving his fists into the champion's face. It was impressive, and it still is shocking how much of a novice Jones made Rua look like.
This wasn't a fighter that had been overhyped or who had faded for their younger days. This was a dominant, young champion who had excelled in PRIDE and then in the UFC, and Jones was able to beat him senseless.
The only detractors is that it was a TKO instead of a violent knockout, it took Jones until the third round to finish his opponent and that Rua had been out of the cage for so long.
When these are the only criticisms that can be made of a champion when he wins the title, you know the performance was an impressive one.
Grade for UFC 128: B+
UFC 135: Quinton
This just may be Jones' best win to date.
All of the arguments that could be made for his fight with Rua about his opponent's cage rust were thrown out the door in the Jackson fight. Jackson was lean and ready for training camp even before it started unlike times in the past, and he had fought in the last four months.
He was completely healthy and looked to be as dominant as he had been in PRIDE and then the Octagon. This time, it was obvious that this was going to be Jones' biggest test. He was facing a large light heavyweight he couldn't just push around the cage like opponents in the past.
Except that is exactly what he did.
Jones was able to dominate Jackson and enforce whatever gameplan he wanted.
More importantly, though, fans got to see a much younger man emotionally and psychologically break down a much older, and what should have been wiser, opponent.
Instead, by the third round of the fight, it was obvious that Jackson didn't want to be in the cage anymore. Jones had found a way to get inside his head and had beaten the former champ.
When Jones finally submitted him in the fourth round, it almost seemed as if Jackson let him.
Then again, Jones was so impressive it just might have looked that way.
Grade for UFC 135: A+
UFC 140: Lyoto Machida
It took Jones until his 10th fight in the UFC for it to happen, but he was finally tested.
In a bout with Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida, he was forced to come back after having lost the first round against an opponent who not only found a way to score against him, but rocked him backwards with some punches.
Jones then walked out in the second round and was able to submit him with a standing guillotine. From being beaten by a man with a reach shorter than his to submitting that same man while on his feet all in the span of 10 minutes, it seems like Jones was able to not only pick up another victory, but evolve in front of fans yet again.
Jones did what he needed to in the one minute interval in-between rounds to assess the situation and then find a way to make it work for him.
It is something every champion has to do in their career, and it seems that Jones has learned how to do it relatively early in his.
It may sound cliche, or like this writer is jumping on the bandwagon, but its hard to see any other light heavyweight giving Jones problems at this point.
Then again, 2012 is right around the corner, and who knows who might be going into the Octagon and facing their own version of UFC 87.
It might just be the man to beat Jones.