CAPTION: Dec 10, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones (right) against fighter Lyoto Machida during a light heavyweight bout at UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
"Bones" has been called many things, all the way from "arrogant" to "greatest of all time." After his win over former Jackson's MMA stablemate Rashad Evans at UFC 145 in Atlanta, Ga., on Apr. 21, 2012, however, even Jones' staunchest detractors are starting to come around.
The 24-year-old prodigy has come about as close to cleaning out a division in record time as mixed martial arts (MMA) fans have seen in this recent era of the sport, which is saying something when you consider the list of big names he has run through in no short order.
But, in the world of hurt, no good deed goes unpunished.
His next order of business will be former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and PRIDE legend Dan Henderson, in a fight that is still yet to be given an event and a date. During an appearance on Spike TV's "MMA Uncensored Live," Jones talked about his upcoming opponent, as well as his infamous overhand right.
No surprise, he's not really that worried:
"No, I'm not worried about the 'H-bomb.' I fought Ryan Bader. He had an amazing overhand right. I think he won The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) with that overhand right. Rashad Evans ended up knocking out Chuck Liddell with his overhand right. Mauricio 'Shogun' (Rua) had an awesome overhand right. I'm just not worried about it. It's a single technique that I'm prepared for, extensively. 'Hendo' actually has a good left hook, as well, so, I'm not worried about single strikes."
In the interview, Jones was asked about what might be next if he were able to knock off "Hendo." Specifically, he was questioned about the possibility of a "super fight" between either UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva or UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos. He was asked who of the two he'd prefer to fight, if push came to shove.
Here's what he had to say:
"Man, well, you know, I wouldn't wanna fight either of them, because of the relationship that I have with those guys. They're pretty awesome guys. If I had to choose, I would probably go with dos Santos."
Following up on the question, Jones was asked about how he thinks a fight between he and "JDS" might go down. Perhaps having learned from his previous media faux pas with Evans, "Bones" was diplomatic in his response:
"I dunno. You know, he's not on my radar. Dan Henderson's the guy that I'm focused on, the most. He's still a ways away. But, I don't know how I would fight Junior. But, you know, I definitely don't want this to be taken as me calling him out, by any means. I'm a light heavyweight, and I'm fighting Dan Henderson."
Jones has been mentioned by some as being in the conversation of "greatest of all time." He believes it's a title he may one day deserve, but in the meantime, he plans on continuing to work as hard as he can and try to be deserving of his accolades:
"It's very flattering, and it's an honor to be considered one of the greatest fighters of all time. It's something that I'm working towards, so to be near that, already, it's something that's a blessing and an honor and it reminds me that I'm on the right track to be where I want to be. I live up to it by training hard and by not wasting my days and realizing that these are something that I'll never get back and to really give myself the best odds of that being true."
For now, Jones is quick to give the "greatest of all time" distinction to his buddy, "The Spider," but he also wanted to make it known that he's raised his own personal ceiling. It's not enough for him to be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
He wants his name to go down as a legendary overall combatant:
"The greatest of all time would have to be Anderson Silva. But, I'm starting to change my way of thinking, to not try to be one of the greatest martial artists or boxers of all time, (Muhammad) Ali or Anderson. I wanna be like 'Alexander the Great,' a guy who conquers and is fearless and who just love combat. That's the mindset that I'm trying to evolve myself to."
It may be tough for some people to consider Jones in the same breath as "Alexander the Great," or even Muhammad Ali, after he was unable to finish Evans in a five-round bout that went to the judges' scorecard. Jones defended his performance in his last fight, indicating his new-found respect for taking his time:
"You know, I have this thing where I don't like to rush. I definitely don't want to ever lose a fight by getting caught by a wild punch. There was a scenario where, Eddie Alvarez, I think that's who it was, where he like body shotted this one guy, then he ran up to him to try and finish the fight, and the last thing the guy hit him with, his last shot, and it ended up knocking out Eddie Alvarez. I think that's who it was. That haunted me. I would never want something like that to happen to me. So, what I do is, I take my time and realize that I have 25 minutes to methodically pick someone apart."
According to Jones, he hasn't talked to "Suga" since the two did battle last month. However, he does wish him well. He even hopes that there's still a chance they may be able to re-kindle their friendship, one day:
"I haven't talked to Rashad, but I definitely pray for him. I wonder how he's doing. I'm sure it's a lot to lose, especially to me. You know, it's a tough time in Rashad's life right now, so he's definitely in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sure he would have loved to beat me, but at the same time, I'm sure he remembers how easy it was for us to be friends. What's happened has already happened now, and hopefully, that friendship is still possible."
You would think that Jones would be quick to say his last fight was his toughest fight. It was his first non-finish win since 2009. It was versus a fighter who he had trained with and who he knew intimately and was a bout that brought with it much emotional baggage. But if you guessed the opponent that Jones considers his toughest challenge is Evans, you'd be wrong:
"The toughest opponent, up to this point, would have to have been Stephan Bonnar. He pushed me to the limits. I hit him hard, and he kept coming with relentlessness."
Definitely interesting, but it's hard to argue that "The American Psycho" is one tough fighter.
Lastly, Jones talked about his game and his all-around skill set. Though he's known for his stand up and striking, his jiu-jitsu is an aspect that he continually works on in training. We just haven't seen much of it in the Octagon. Not yet, anyway:
"During my training camps, I work a lot on jiu jitsu. It really varies on the opponent that I go against. You know, if there's a guy who has really great takedowns, and he has something that he likes to do on top, or he has really terrible takedown defense, and he has something that he always does on bottom, I focus on specific positions. Like, for 'Shogun,' we realized that 'Shogun' had been taken down 16 out of 18 attempts, and he immediately goes to half guard, and he tries to go for a sweep. So, me knowing that, I realized the odds of taking down 'Shogun' were huge, and I worked on my half guard."
Maybe we'll get to see "Bones" working off his back in his next fight. After bludgeoning Evans' face for five rounds with standing elbows, it's hard to put anything past him at this point. He's full of surprises, and that's not a good thing if you're one of his opponents.