As UFC 239 approaches, Jon Jones is making his final preparations for another light heavyweight title fight; a scene that he is very familiar with. Since he captured the divisional title in 2011 with a TKO of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Jones has found himself in title fights ever since.
The career of Jones inside the Octagon is one that can only be described as remarkable. He grew up before the eyes of UFC fans, taking out the veterans that paved the way for the light heavyweight division like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort, then taking on a wave of new challengers — most notably his chief rivals Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson.
Jones’ life outside of the Octagon has been filled with controversy. From USADA suspensions to run-ins with the law, he has found his name in the headlines for some pretty unfortunate reasons, but he’s always been the first to admit that he’s not perfect.
As there is only one loss on Jones’ record — a 2009 disqualification — many consider him to be the greatest fighter of all time. Wherever he ranks on your GOAT list, it’s hard to deny he’s the most dominant fighter ever. And he’s still working hard on cementing that legacy.
It’s time to recognize what Jones has been giving to the fight game since his latest USADA suspension. He’s fought three times since he returned in December of 2018, focused on staying active and taking on all the new challengers that emerged in his absence.
That’s the next chapter of the Jon Jones journey. He’s been the young guy on the way up, and now he’s the one awaiting rising fighters. He’s already defeated Anthony Smith, and is now gearing up for Thiago Santos as others like Johnny Walker and former middleweight champions Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold look to make their names in the division.
His time away has brought plenty of criticism and comments from all corners of the fight game, but as the greatest athletes normally do, Jones has kept his focus and continued to dominate the opposition when many are waiting to see him crumble.
Jon Jones has said that “greatest of all time” is simply an opinion, but it’s hard to deny that he’s been the most dominant of all time. Thiago Santos will bring plenty of challenges to the cage, just as all of Jones’ opponents have, but none have been able to utilize those challenges to dethrone him.
Maybe that’s the legacy of Jones; that no matter the circumstances inside or outside of the Octagon, he will not be brought down or held down by any adversity. In his second return from a long layoff, Jones has made it clear: he wants to be active and he wants to show his pure dominance.
In today’s era of fighting, the big-money fights are what many fans want to see, but Jones is keeping it simple. The lucrative trilogy fight against Daniel Cormier is there, so is a move up to heavyweight, but he’s simply focused on dominating every light heavyweight contender that dares enter the cage with him.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/3/2019.