Jon Jones | The past, the present, the future
By Lewis Mckeever:
It all started with YouTube. A young, ambitious adolescent learning how to punch and kick in his bedroom through studying instructional videos on the internet to becoming one of the most influential figures in Mixed Martial Arts today. One thing is certain; Jon “Bones” Jones is no ordinary athlete, Jon Jones is no ordinary human being.
Before Jon’s MMA career had ignited, there was wrestling. During his teens, Jon had succeeded to capture two wrestling titles, managing to conquer a high school state wrestling championship and emerging victorious in the national JUCO finals. His stand out junior wrestling accomplishments have aided to mold and mesh Jon into the wrestling powerhouse we applaud in the octagon today. From the ruthless Greco roman suplexes and slams to the unconventional Judo trips and throws, Jon is one of the very few former wrestlers who have managed to translate standout junior wrestling accolades into something entirely dazzling and unique in the MMA universe. The flamboyance of Jon’s wrestling moves are only touching the tip of the iceberg…
After collating an unblemished record of 6-0 in some of the more underground MMA organizations, Jon was able to demonstrate his natural talent and flair on the main stage in the UFC. The world was watching Jon Jones.
Dana White and co certainly didn’t hesitate to throw Jon Jones in at the deep end. Just one fight into the premier organization and Jones was heading into battle against “The American Psycho”, long time UFC veteran Stephan Bonnar. While the majority of the MMA fan base were expecting Bonnar to break Jon’s “bones”, it seemed as though Jon had other intentions. The Greg Jackson product demonstrated a highlight reel of spinning elbows, spinning back fists, flying knees and a hefty array of thunderous slams and power throws, brutalizing Bonnar for a span of three rounds. This was the one fight that really cemented Jon’s presence in the light heavyweight division and catapulted him into somewhat of an overnight superstar amongst the hard-core MMA enthusiasts.
Jones continued to work his magic in upcoming bouts, eliminating an impressive list of opponents in emphatic fashion. Vera, Matyushenko, Bader amongst others all fell prey to the rising young megastar, earning him a well deserved title shot against former Pride berserker, Maurcio “Shogun” Rua. The stage was set and the stars were aligned.
Title fight nerves didn’t seem to hinder the youngster, as Jones greeted Rua with a venomous flying knee in the opening seconds of the bout. That welcoming knee really set the tone for the rest of the contest, as Jon unloaded a barrage elbows, kicks, and back fists to a bloodied up Rua. The Pride fighting legend eventually succumbed to grounded knee strikes midway through round three, passing guard to a new UFC champion, the youngest in the organizations history.
“You’re not a true champion until you defend the belt”. A common phrase echoed throughout combat sports. Jones had captured UFC gold, but was he ready to defend it?
Jones has progressed to successfully defend his title against fan favorite; power slamming Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and the real life karate kid; Lyoto Machida. The more notable of the two fights being Jones choking Machida unconscious in the second round, as a result of Lyoto honorably refusing to tap out and surrender.
Jones is certainly proving to be more than just a wrestler with a few flashy strikes. He is now the only man to ever choke out or submit Mr Jackson in UFC competition and comfortably locked up a standing guillotine against a Brazilian BJJ black belt in Lyoto Machida.
Fast forward to present day. Jones certainly has his work cut out for him in his upcoming third title defense against former champion and arch nemesis Rashad Evans. Evans poses a very real and interesting threat to Jones, possessing some of the best wrestling in mixed martial arts, combined with hand speed, solid boxing fundamentals and quick footwork. This is more than just a physical test for Jon. All of the drama generated through the mounting rivalry of the two fighters and former friends is going to test Jon’s strength of will and mental capacity.
Looking towards the future, if Jones is capable of neutralizing Rashad’s A-game, where does he go from there? Jon has already stated that he envisions himself bulking up to the heavyweight division, which only seems inevitable given his current frame, size and age. Let’s not forget that he has also flirted with the idea of rising up to the occasion and facing Junior Dos Santos. Could Jones be one of three men to hold two titles at two different weight classes? Could we see Jones rule both the light heavyweight and the heavyweight divisions consecutively? If there is one thing we have learned throughout Jones’ career, it’s that the sky really is the limit for his potential. Perhaps we are on the verge of witnessing a truly extraordinary talent unlike anything we have ever seen before in this sport. Fasten your seat belts and buckle up, because the next couple of years of Jones’ career are going to be one hell of a ride.