“Jonny 'Bones' Jones, the second coming of Jesus Christ [laughter].” – Brandon Vera
Jon Jones worked his way up quietly in the light heavyweight ranks, but he caught everyone’s eye when he manhandled Matt Hamill. He lost the fight by disqualification for using 12-to-6 elbow strikes, but everyone knew that after that fight, Jones was no joke.
Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko were put in front of him and both were expected to give him a run for his money, but instead he ran through them.
At this point, many fans were starting to wonder how soon he would get a title shot.
Ryan Bader was announced as his next opponent. Bader is a powerful wrestler, who prefers to keep a fight standing. This fight, in all honesty, was a match-making mistake.
Both were up and coming talent who have bright futures, and instead of giving each of them a solid test and let them get their names out there and get closer to a title shot, they were put against each other.
In their bout, Jones was too much for Bader. His reach really made the difference, and in the second round Bader pulled guard and that led to Jones locking in a guillotine choke and winning submission of the night honors.
After this fight was the moment that forever changed Jon Jones. He was informed that Rashad Evans was injured and that he would be facing Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128.
Jones as a person changed overnight. Leading up to the showdown with Rua, Jones showed this new version of self-confidence. In his interviews he appeared extremely cocky and he was also signing autographs as “Champ 2011.”
The day of the fight, he was involved in stopping a thief which made him golden in the public’s eye. That night, he stopped Shogun by way of TKO in the third round. He became the youngest champion in UFC history.
At this point Jon Jones’ biggest fan was, in fact, Jon Jones.
After becoming the champion he was everywhere. He was making TV appearances, and was now set to face Rashad Evans to defend his championship. A year prior, Jones did an interview where he stated:
“I just think there are lots of ways around it. You know, you could fake injuries. You could do anything. I mean, there’s just so many ways around it, you know? But before I joined the team that was the first conversation we had. It was just about friendship.”
Funny thing is, Jones withdrew from the fight with Evans, due to a hand injury. Right after, Rashad signs to fight Phil Davis, and shortly after it is announced that Jones will not need surgery, and that he would be fighting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at a later date.
So much drama, and hype has been brought up around Jones, and the big question is: Can he handle all of this pressure, being as young as he is? No one will question his skill set, but in fighting, your mind is the most important tool.
Jones has never faced an opponent that has the tools to truly get into one’s mind, but that all changes at UFC 135 when he faces the very dangerous Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Rampage appeared to have gotten in Jones’ head at the press conference when he made a joke out of their face-to-face encounter. Jones says he was mad about that and that will fuel him in their fight. Does this mean he will go toe-to-toe with Jackson and go for the KO?
Jon Jones is a seriously talented fighter, he is receiving hype like Lesnar and Vera, who are also great fighters, but didn’t quite fully live up to the hype.
In all honesty, the man has what it takes to be one of the all-time greats, but until he learns the definition of the word "humble," he may have a tough time remaining on top of the food chain.
September 24, be sure to catch UFC 135 to see if Jon Jones is all hype or if he is truly the real deal.