History in the Making: Did Jon Jones usher in a new era when he destroyed 'Shogun' Rua?

Photo via UFC.com

If one didn't know better, they would swear that the UFC light heavyweight championship was cursed.

The allure of the title beckons fighters to it like a siren, leading them down a dangerous path before meeting an untimely and unceremonious end. 

Ever since Quinton Jackson knocked long-time champion Chuck Liddell unconscious at UFC 71, no one has managed to keep the belt around their waist for more than one defense. "Rampage" went on to unify the title with that of Pride Fighting Championships' (Pride) but had the crown wrested away from him months later by Forrest Griffin.

Griffin -- and his eventual usurper Rashad Evans -- weren't able to make a single successful defense in the cut-throat world that is the 205-pound division. When Lyoto Machida won the strap, Joe Rogan infamously bellowed, "Welcome to the Machida Era!"

"The Dragon" defended the belt -- albeit unconvincingly -- in what was the title's first defense since Jackson's bout with Dan Henderson only to lose it -- very convincingly -- in the immediate rematch to Mauricio Rua

The title was his for nearly a year but only due to an injury that put him on the shelf. When "Shogun" did finally step back inside the Octagon, Jon Jones was there to almost literally beat him within an inch of his life to assume the light heavyweight throne.

A little over 48 hours (Sept. 24) remain until "Bones" makes his first defense as champion when he takes on Jackson in the main event of UFC 135: "Jones vs. Rampage." Will the young superstar be able to hang onto the belt?

If he fights like he did against Rua, there will be little chance he doesn't. Let's take a closer look at that bout.

Read on!

Jones, of course, was given the opportunity to challenge for the light heavyweight title when his former teammate Rashad Evans dropped out due to injury.

It was a bit of cosmic irony that Evans -- who opted to wait for "Shogun" to heal up to cash in his title shot -- was now losing his opportunity to once again become champion due to an injury himself. His decision was criticized by many -- including UFC head honcho Dana White -- and it seemed to have come back to bite him.

When "Bones" easily dispatched of fellow up-and-comer Ryan Bader, Joe Rogan was there to break the news to the young fighter. As Rogan explained that "Suga" had stepped down and the promotion was now offering the title shot to him, it appeared that Jones was ready to break down and cry.

He eagerly accepted despite the title fight being only six weeks away. Only six weeks to prepare for the biggest fight of his young career. Only six weeks to scout one of the most dangerous 205-pounders in the history of the sport. Only six weeks before he had to take on "Shogun" Rua.

"Bones" obviously made the most of that time because what occurred at UFC 128 was one of the most dominant performances ever seen in a title bout.

Let's jump right in.

Jones immediately dives in with a flying knee that catches the champion flush. He begins using front kicks to keep "Shogun" at bay, taking advantage of his far superior reach.

A spinning back kick from "Bones" misses its mark and it's followed by an exchange from both fighters that clinches them up. From there, the challenger basically ragdolls Rua to the mat.

Each fighter immediately begins to work: Jones throwing punches and those deadly elbows and Rua trying to close the distance and attempting to transition to a more favorable position. But every time the champion tries to squirm out from under his opponent, Jones is quick to immediately nullify every bit of the Brazilian's grappling.

With less than two minutes remaining, Rua begins to rise back to his feet. With one knee down, he eats a knee straight to the ribcage. As Rua's knee lifts up, a knee crashes into his face. Then a straight from Jones forces "Shogun" to cover up against the cage.

"Bones" resets to the center of the cage and begins to pick away at a visibly woozy Rua. This man knocked out "Rampage," went to war with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and solved that riddle of Machida but it seems he was ill-prepared for the destruction incarnate standing before him.

A punch to the body is followed up with a knee before Jones begins to attack the knees of "Shogun" which have a well-documented history of surgery. The round ends with "Bones" on top, landing more ground and pound.

Not to be outdone by the opening theatrics of the first round, Jones lands a spinning back fist 30 seconds into the next stanza. He is light on his feet, bouncing on his heels while the champion plods forward and back, the energy already having been sapped from his body.

It seems like the only offense Rua is able to land -- a body kick -- is rendered meaningless when Jones catches it and turns it into a takedown. Two stiff punches bounce "Shogun's" head off the canvas before the American drops down into his opponent's guard to inflict more damage. He remains there until the horn sounds, almost like a death rattle for Rua's championship reign.

Going into the third round, Rua is able to get behind the challenger while still on their feet but makes the bad decision to roll into a knee bar. "Bones" is able to break free of the submission and eventually ends up on top, a familiar sight in the bout.

Like a shark smells blood, Jones knows his opponent is on the proverbial ropes. He begins to posture up and land those vicious elbows. Rua enters survival mode and is able to get back to his feet, his face a swollen and bloody mess. Jones pressures him against the cage, lands a perfectly placed body shot and the champion crumbles to the mat.

A titan of the sport falls as a young lion ascends to the throne. Much like Machida had been pegged as the future by both pundits and fans alike, Jones seems to have that same burden placed upon his shoulders.

He's so young and so talented that it seems impossible that anyone in the current crop of fighters would be able to defeat him. But nothing is impossible and "Bones" has history -- in particular that of the title currently around his waist -- against him.

Can "Rampage" become only the second two-time 205-pound champion in UFC history?

Or will the realization of Jones' destiny continue?

We will find out Saturday night.

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