It only took three years and three rounds for Jon Jones to achieve his destiny. Three years after making his MMA debut, Jon Bones Jones is the new UFC light heavyweight champion. Jon Jones vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua at UFC 128 ended with a new champion and a huge UFC star!
Jones dominated Rua for three rounds and looked more like the veteran champion than the young challenger. Jones confused Rua early with his unorthodox style and closed the distance for most of the fight. Jones nailed Rua early in the fight and the champion never recovered. Rua looked wobbly for the rest of the fight and didn’t have any answers for the MMA prodigy.
Jones ended the fight in the third round after dropping Shogun with a barrage of knees. Rua escaped an onslaught of elbows and strikes on the ground, got to his feet, but had nothing left to answer the challenger. Jones went in for the kill and became the youngest world champion in UFC history in round 3 at 2:37.
I was surprised at the shape of Rua coming into the fight. He looked pudgy and nowhere near as fast as he looked in his last fight against Lyoto Machida. Rua looked slow and tired early. Jones was faster, sharper, and the better conditioned athlete of the two. For a champion that had almost a year off, it really was inexcusable to see Shogun come into the fight out of shape.
If Jones masterpiece against Shogun Rua wasn’t impressive enough, wait until you hear how he prepared for his fight. TMZ.com reported that Jones ran to the rescue of a woman being mugged in a park. Jones reportedly chased down and caught her attacker, restraining him via leg lock until cops arrived. Yes on the day of his biggest MMA fight, Jones intervened in a mugging. It is a fun story but if I am Dana White I am fuming. There are all sorts of ways that chase could have went terribly wrong for Jones and the UFC. Luckily it ended in the best way possible, like it usually does for Bones.
The Jon Bones Jones ride has been a fun ride to watch for MMA observers. Just two years ago MMA fans and journalists touted Jones as a possible future champion. One year ago he was thought to be the future of the light heavyweight division. The future is now and what most expected to happen in 2012 happened a year earlier at UFC 128.
Shogun Rua was originally scheduled to fight Jones’ training partner Rashad Evans. Evans had to withdraw due to a knee injury and Dana White sprung the fight on Jones immediately after beating Ryan Bader at UFC 126. Jones accepted the monumental challenge and looked just as fresh at UFC 128 as he did six weeks ago against Bader. While youth is often times a detriment in high level MMA, this time the age of Jones was an absolute advantage.
The UFC light heavyweight title has bounced around quite a bit over the last few years in the UFC. Since 2008 there have been five different UFC light heavyweight champions. Chuck Liddell was the last champion to bring the belt any stability with a title reign that lasted over two years. Only Rampage Jackson and Lyoto Machida since Liddell have had successful title defenses. No champion since Liddell has defended the belt successfully twice in a row, a trend which Jon Jones hopes to change. Tito Ortiz holds the record with five successful light heavyweight title defenses between 2000 and 2002.
The win is bigger than the championship. The win thrusts Jon Jones into the level of UFC superstar. Jones is now a household name and has a story that is appealing to mainstream media. Jones is also the first English light heavyweight champion in almost two years. It makes promoting UFC events, Jones, and the championship a lot easier when the UFC can send someone like Jones to the media as opposed to the last two champions who weren’t as media friendly due to language barriers.
Dana White has already announced that Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight title is up next for the new champion. This fight pits reluctant foes against each other as both are training partners and weren’t originally interested in fighting each other. Money and the championship obviously changed their minds as the two have agreed to fight for the title.
I think Rashad is probably the only fighter that has any chance of beating Jones on paper. Evans’ bob and weave style could give Jones fits early if Bones isn’t able to catch him. On the ground Evans is the superior wrestler and is the kind of UFC fighter that could bait Jones into making a mistake and take advantage of Jones’ inexperience. Training with Jones and seeing his weaknesses first hand also gives Sugar an edge that most of Jones’ future opponents will never have.
It may be too early but can we start talking Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones. In terms of Super Fights, this one makes much more sense than GSP vs. Anderson Silva. Silva has fought at light heavyweight before and walks around at 220 between fights. Rather than have GSP change divisions and weaken the welterweight division make a Super Fight between two guys in the same division. At this point I think MMA fans would be more interested in Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones than Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva. Either way the UFC now has two mega fights at their disposal and we haven’t even started talking about Strikeforce vs. UFC dream fights.
Full UFC 128 results:
Jon Jones defeated Shogun Rua to win the UFC light heavyweight title via TKO in Round 3
Urijah Faber defeated Eddie Wineland via unanimous decision
Jim Miller defeated Kamal Shalorus via TKO in Round 3
Nate Marquardt defeated Dan Miller by unanimous decision
Brendan Schaub defeated Mirko Cro Cop via TKO in Round 3
Luiz Cane defeated Eliot Marshall via TKO in Round 1.
Joseph Benavidez defeated Ian Loveland by unanimous decision
Gleison Tibau defeated Kurt Pellegrino via split decision
Mike Pyle defeated Ricardo Almeida by unanimous decision
Edson Barboza defeated Anthony Njokuani by unanimous decision
Erik Koch defeated Raphael Assunção via KO in Round 1
Nick Catone defeated Cyprus Constantinos Philippou by unanimous decision
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