At the young age of 24, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is on a vision quest to become one of the (if not the) most dominant champion in the promotion's history. That's quite a tall task, given the fact that his mixed martial arts (MMA) predecessors have had very impressive runs in the past.
Tito Ortiz defended his 205-pound title a record five times, while Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes have each had some of the most impressive championship reigns during their respective tenures as UFC light heavyweight and welterweight champions.
Today, Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva currently are riding two of the most impressive championship runs in the history of the UFC. "Rush" has defended his 170-pound title six consecutive times, while "The Spider" undoubtedly has the greatest championship success ever, defending his 185-pound belt a record-breaking nine times.
With one title defense under his belt, Jones has his work cut out for him if he ever wants to be mentioned in the same sentence as the aforementioned greats to ever compete in the sport. Consecutive wins over two former light heavyweight champions in Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson are a good start.
And one major advantage that "Bones" has going for him is youth. He has time to slowly but surely build an impressive streak much like the champions of yesteryear and present day. However, with youth comes inexperience, and with inexperience comes lack of knowledge. And according to Jones, he really doesn't know anything when it comes to MMA.
Read the young champion's explanation at today's UFC 140 press conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, after the jump:
"I think to start, the reason why I know I'm not invincible is because I have seen lots of people do great and then they end up losing you know. I want that to never happen to me, so I stay on the prowl and I always work hard. The biggest part is training with Greg Jackson and Jackson's mixed martial arts center. I am surrounded by some of the top talent in the world. You guys just saw Diego Brandao and John Dodson win The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and those are just the little guys. Our whole team is stacked with studs; Cowboy, Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, Andrei Arlovski, Travis Browne, Keith Jardine and myself, there is so many of us that I can't' even name us all, Cub Swanson. I can keep going. I am four years into my MMA (mixed martial arts) career and there is so much that I don't know. Jiu-Jitsu is a whole culture, Tae Kwon Do is a whole culture, Muay-Thai is a whole culture, boxing, the sweet science, I'm not even close to that yet. There is so much that I don't know and there is so much stuff that my teammates are way better than me at. I just happen to be one of the better ones at merging them all together, but I have teammates that are so much farther ahead at different disciplines and that is what keeps me aware of the fact that I don't really know anything. A lot of times people will come in and see me do pads and they will be like, "Wow his pad work isn't really that nice." Well, that's because there are better kick boxers on my team, and there is way better everything on my team. Being around Jacksons MMA makes me realize that I am good at mixing it all together, but I am not the best at any discipline."
Jones has a chance to wrap up an impressive year by defeating another former UFC light heavyweight champion in Lyoto Machida when the two meet this weekend (Dec. 10, 2011) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at UFC 140.
In the process, he will have the chance to be the first UFC light heavyweight champion in the past five years to defend the division title more than once. The last person to do it was Chuck Liddell way back in 2006, when he defended his belt four consecutive times.
The always growing and still inexperienced Jones feels there is still tons of room for improvement in his ever expanding repertoire if mixed martial arts skills.
Which begs the question:
If Jon Jones is this good now, how great will he be five years from now? And does he have the potential to have the greatest championship era when it's all said and done?