UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will defend his 205-pound strap for the first time when he battles former division titleholder Quinton Jackson at the upcoming UFC 135 event scheduled for Sept. 24 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
And not only is he protecting his strap, but attempting to preserve "everything he's worked so hard for."
Jackson earned his shot at the light heavyweight crown by beating the brakes off Matt Hamill just over a month ago at the UFC 130 event on May 28 in Las Vegas, Nevada. "Rampage" battered and bruised "The Hammer," out-striking him by a margin of 61-34 and stuffing all 17 of the NCAA wrestler's takedown attempts.
After the fight, he told fans it was time to get "his" belt back, which didn't offend "Bones," who tells The Fight Fix that he won't allow a "half-passionate" challenger to take his dreams away:
"He has pride. He has a history. He has following. If I was him, I would call it my belt as well. Right now, I feel as it's my belt and I'm not gonna give that away. I've worked really hard to get to this point. I'm young, I'm hungry. I'm not gonna let someone who's maybe half passionate take my dreams away from me. Right now, getting hit isn't an option. I'm striving for perfection. To give Rampage everything that I've worked so hard for - I just can't allow that to happen."
Jackson has been vocal in the past about fighting just for the money, even threating retirement on several occasions. It's not unrealistic to think "half-passionate" is a label even the most casual fan would apply based on the Memphis native's track record.
But one thing he does have in his favor is momentum.
Jones hasn't been in the cage since obliterating Mauricio Rua to win the title at UFC 128 back on March 19 in New Jersey. The lanky and unorthodox New Yorker has blown through each and every one of his Octagon opponents, amassing a 7-1 record in his time with the UFC.
Even that one loss, a complete drubbing of the previously mentioned Hamill that ended in a disqualification due to illegal elbows, is considered a win.
But will his dream become a nightmare in "Mile High City?"