The future is now the present
Prodigy. Phenom. Future. That is what Jon “Bones” Jones, 24, has been called since he started fighting in 2008. But after last night’s victory over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, you can just refer to him as “The Champ”.
Jon Jones was born on July 19, 1987 in Rochester, New York. His father is a pastor at a Pentecostal church in Endicott, New York, while his mother is a nurse. He has an older brother (Arthur, who is a defensive tackle with the Baltimore Ravens) and younger brother (Chandler, who is a defensive end with Syracuse). Jon’s older sister Carmen died of cancer before her 18th birthday.
Jones and his family are guided by their religious beliefs. In accordance with this, he has Philippians 4:13 tattooed on his chest, which was his sister’s favorite story from the Bible. He also has Chinese characters inked on his ribs that he thought represented his sister’s name, but later found out actually means “peaceful warrior”.
He began training in MMA when he found out that his high school sweetheart and girlfriend, Jessie, was pregnant with their daughter, Leah. He realized that he wasn’t making enough as a bouncer to support his family, and so he walked into the BombSquad training facility in New York with the idea of making money as an MMA fighter. Despite the fact that he had no formal submission or striking training, within weeks he won his first MMA fight over Brad Bernard by TKO on April 12, 2008.
After a string of six straight wins, the UFC came knocking, asking Jones to take on UFC vet, Andre Gusmao, on only two weeks notice at UFC 87. He won via decision, but turned alot of heads, to the point where he fought TUF 1 vet, Stephan Bonnar in his next fight that he also won via decision.
Jones’ first lost came at the hands of Matt Hammill … well, sort of. Bones was completely dominating the fight and struck Hamill repeatedly with “12 to 6” elbows from the mounted position, which is illegal. The fight was ruled a disqualification and remains the only blemish on his record.
Unfortunately for Brandon Vera, he was up next. Jones wanted to make a statement after his “loss” to Hammill and did he ever. Unleashing kicks, round house strikes and this time, legal elbows, the fast rising superstar had Vera in a mounted position dropping some of the most lethal elbows MMA has ever seen. There was no loss this time around as Jones finished Vera in the first round.
Once Jones disposed of Vladamir Matyushenko and Ryan Bader, an opportunity of a lifetime came knocking when he was offered a title shot at UFC 128 against Shogun Rua after Rashad Evans, Jones former training parter, had to back out of the fight due to injury. Jones rose to the occasion making the former light heavyweight champion look inferior to the quickness and skill of the young superstar. For three brutal rounds, Jones punished his opponent until Rua finally relented to strikes.
There is a saying in the fighting world that says you’re not a true champion until you defend your belt and despite Jon Jones dominating his opponents, some questioned his competition. There were critics saying that Rua, who was coming off of a long layoff, was rusty and Jones didn’t fight the best competition for the belt. Enter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Jackson, 33, a former Pride and a former two time UFC champion, has been eager to get his belt back after losing it in controvertial fashion to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86. Rampage has been known not to take training very seriously, but he immediately moved into the Muscle Pharm training facility to concentrate on his fight with the newly crowned champ.
The war of words soon followed as Jackson accused Jones of being cocky and arrogant, even going so far as to claim Jones put a spy in Rampages’ camp. Jon Jones quickly denied the rumors made by Jackson.
With fight night finally here, Jones untilized his 84.5 inch wingspan by keeping Rampage at bay with crisp jabs and mixing it up with leg kicks to keep the former champ off balance. Rampage came in confident but quickly looked like so many other opponents before him. After the first round Jackson looked like he didn’t know how to attack the younger opponent and was waiting to land his trademark right hand.
Jones looked completely in control for four rounds, making his skills and attack look effortless. He finally got Rampage, who has never been submitted, to the ground and slipped on a rear-naked choke to put away his opponent away once and for all.
Up next for Jon Jones is his old training partner and former friend, Rashad Evans. After looking lackluster in his previous fights against Thiago Silva and Rampage Jackson, Evans looked like a different fighter in his last bout against Tito Ortiz, being more aggressive and appearing to have more quickness than ever before.
I’m sure there will be alot of hype and trash talking between the two, but in the end, Jon “Bones” Jones will continue to show the MMA world that he is no longer the future, but he is the present and the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion.