UFC 2011: The Year of Jon Jones

via cdn2.sbnation.com

Idle hands are the devil's workshop.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones wouldn't know anything about that. No one's ever had to tell him to "stay busy." Not inside the cage or otherwise.

On Dec. 10, Jones will face his fourth opponent of the year when he takes on the always-dangerous Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 in Toronto, Canada.

If he's able to pull off the win, it could cement one of the most impressive runs we've ever seen in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).

After the jump, we'll discuss the incomparable year Jon Jones has enjoyed and his mercurial rise to fame.

In 2011, MMA fans witnessed Jones' epic flight to the top of the UFC totem pole.

It was a spurt possibly like none other we've ever seen in the UFC. This year, the young champion has fought three times, won a belt and successfully defended it as well. He's convincingly beat everyone they've put in front of him (We're still putting an asterisk next to his loss to Matt Hamill.) and looked unbeatable in the process.

Other UFC fighters have had great years. But none that really compare when you look at the amount of fights and the quality of opponents.

All he does is win. Yet, the 205-pound champion seems to have as many critics as fans these days.

After beating Ryan Bader, "Shogun" Mauricio Rua and "Rampage" Quinton Jackson, all in the span of eight months, "Bones" certainly would have had every right to take some time off.

The vacation is coming and he's already looking forward to it. During the press conference for UFC 140, Jones discussed his future plans to relax:

"After this next win, I'll definitely relax with my two brothers and my mom and dad and go on a family cruise. Our family hasn't had much our whole lives and we've never spent a legitimate family vacation together and I think it's high time we do something nice together. We're trying to plan a family vacation and I'm looking forward to that so much."

There is no "if" in Jones' comment. For him, it's only a matter of "when" and "how." Call it confidence. Call it cockiness. Either way, Jones backs it up in the Octagon.

Jones is 14-1. He's ranked in the pound-for-pound top five in almost any ranking system available. He also recently won the 2011 World MMA Awards "Fighter of the Year."

All this from a guy who has really only been training in MMA for a few years now.

A win over "The Dragon" at UFC 140 (particularly a convincing one) would go a long way to catapult his legacy into a different stratosphere.

Will Jones end the year on a positive note? Any possibility that he's overlooking Machida?

Any predictions, Maniacs?

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