If you haven’t already fallen in love with the fastest growing sport on the planet, nows the time. April 21st presents the newest big name and potential face of the sport in UFC 145. Jon “Bones” Jones will make the third defense of his light heavyweight belt against mixed martial arts veteran Rashad Evans, highlighting an already exciting fight card. Whether you follow the sport heavily or not, you’ve probably heard of Jones by now or even had a friend tell you to tune in. But who is the chicken legged, 24 year old champion already being declared the best? He’s one scary son of bitch, that’s who.
For those unfamiliar with the accomplishments of the champ, let’s bring you up to speed before this Saturday’s bout.
Like many big MMA names, Jones has deep wrestling roots as a champion at both high school and college levels. After dropping out, he enjoyed great success in fighting, going 6-0 (all stoppages) before entering UFC’s octagon for the first time. To put the experience into perspective, Rashad Evans had already made a name for himself and won the light heavyweight title the same year Jones started fighting professionally. From Bones’ first UFC gig on, it’s been an entertaining ride.
Jones has torn through the division in a span of 3 years, destroying huge light heavyweight names in nine straight fights. (Yes, he has one professional loss but as a result of disqualification for illegal elbows after he was dominating Matt Hamill in the first round). Boxers and even some UFC fighters can go months and even years between bouts training whereas Jones fought four times alone in 2011 and even won the title on one months notice! The division has always been known for its stars with even casual fighting fans knowing Ortiz, Couture and Liddell. Since them though, the light heavyweight champion has changed every year for the past 5 years and no champ since then has defended more than once. Jon Jones will go for his third this weekend to cement his place in the history of one of the most prolific weight classes.
Standing in his way is former champ and former training partner “Sugar” Rashad Evans. That’s right, once trained together and once very close friends. This isn’t the kind of made up hype you hear to sell Pay-Per-Views, these guys genuinely dislike each other now and it’ll be visible inside the cage.
Both can wrestle with the best of them and both know this about the other. Edge to Evans in wrestling by the slightest of margins but they’ll do some standing too. Differing styles shows more power from Evans but speed favors the champ. Rashad may have the heavier hands but Jones’ unorthodox style has proven to give headaches to opponents… Literally.
Bones’ best qualities are without question his freakish length (84 inch wingspan) and his unpredictability. When combined, he is nearly unstoppable. Flying knees, lightning fast head kicks and razor sharp elbows have all quickly secured him as one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport. His massive wingspan has also benefited him on the ground with five submission victories of choke. At age 24, it seems Jon Jones has all the essentials to keep him at the top for quite some time, if he can get past Evans.
It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves in any sport and prematurely crown someone “king” at such a young age but at this pace, Jones is well on his way. He has the confidence and swagger to be the face of the franchise but blends it well with pride and humility. His athleticism is nearly unmatched and it runs in the family (Older brother Arthur is in the NFL and younger brother Chandler will be drafted into the league later this month). Most important of all though, hes just a damn good fighter.
Jones VS Evans will be an excellent bout regardless of outcome and definitely worth tuning in for. For new and upcoming fans, now is the time to watch the one with potential to be the next great one. Just don’t blink, he’s that quick.
Prediction: Jon Jones via Submission (rear naked choke)