UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones, will step into the Octagon this weekend (Dec. 10, 2011) at UFC 140, which goes down at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, defending his 205-pound title against the always crafty and elusive, Lyoto Machida.
The fight will mark the fourth fight for "Bones" in a span of only 10 months, including two title fights -- one against Mauricio Rua at UFC 128, who he destroyed to become the youngest UFC champion ever, and the other against Quinton Jackson at UFC 135, which he won via fourth round submission (rear naked choke) on Sept. 24, 2011, in Denver, Colorado.
Certainly not the easiest of fight schedules. And in the UFC, where winning impressively is seemingly everything, no good deed goes unpunished.
Should "Bones" be victorious this weekend once again, he will end 2011 on the highest of notes, marking one of the best championship runs in recent memory with three victories over former champions in as many fights. In the process, he could possibly set up a much anticipated championship fight against former training partner-turned bitter rival (also a former champion), Rashad Evans.
Check it out:
On the difficulty of a busy fight year:
" I have been training four times a day, and i rest in between training sessions. It's not like in the NFL, where you have one Super Bowl game a year, and once you play it and you win, you can breathe and relax and rest and look forward to next year. This is going to be my third Super Bowl this year and it's hard to keep that same focus and energy for each fight, but I have done it and will continue to do it."
On whether Machida, who is 1-2 in his last three fights, deserved a title shot:
"He looked great against Randy Couture, whether he deserves a title shot or not, he is Lyoto Machida, I'm happy for him. He has the name and recognition to get the title shot and now I'm here."
On people's views on him and changing as a fighter and person:
"I only mean well, a lot of things I say I can come off as arrogant, but I only mean well. I can't control the way people perceive me, it's just who I am. My ideals are just thoughts I share, I could just keep them bottled up. I realize that not everyone is going to love you. I have changed as a fighter and I do think I am the best fighter. I won't lose to Lyoto, I wont lost to Rashad or to Henderson or any other guy. Yeah I am a little cocky, and I think it's important to be that way. But I won't change as a person; I stay true to my friends, my family, Endicott, New York. But as Jonathan in the real world, anyone that has ever met me, they know I'll treat you with the upmost respect. Buy yeah; Jon Jones the fighter will beat you up."
Jones does not shy away from his religious views, proudly displaying a Philippians 4:13 tattoo on his chest:
"God has way more important things to think about than me winning a fight or Tebow winning a game, but religion is a big part of me, and if people can't accept that, then maybe I'm not meant to be that mainstream athlete."
Of course, "Bones" touched on the upcoming number one contenders fight between his former training partner Rashad Evans taking on wrestling powerhouse Phil Davis:
"It's an interesting fight. I'll go with Rashad because of the experience factor. But Phil Davis can win more than he realizes, he has to be comfortable striking. I won't say too much because I have my own ideas on how to beat Rashad, but, I don't think Rashad has a chin at all. Trust me Rashad does not have chin. But it will be a closer fight that people will realize."
Jones, who trained alongside "Suga" over at Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, NM.M., may know more about Evans than most because of their extensive training time -- the two were together on-and-off for more than two years. Perhaps he also watched Machida dim Evans' lights in brutal fashion not too long ago.
Their much publicized rift and rivalry has hung in the headlines since Jones replaced Evans opposite "Shogun" earlier this year and won the title. Now, Jones may finally get his chance to test his "Rashad has no chin" theory, should he defeat Machida at UFC 140 in five days.
Of course, Evans has to do his part and defeat an undefeated Davis when the pair headline UFC on Fox 2 on Jan. 28, 2012, which is set to take place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Nonetheless, at the young age of 24 years old, Jones truly has accomplished in little time what many fighters haven't in their entire careers in the mixed martial arts (MMA) world.
He has the looks, the personality, charisma and most of all, the skill set to be marketed as the future of the the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It's scary to think that Jones has competed in the sport for only 3.5 years, making his debut on April 12, 2008. The sky is truly the limit for the young champion who says that just four years ago he was applying for a position as a janitor.
Jones is now a full-time swagger-jacker. And he's damn good at it.