Jon Jones has faced some rather tough competition during his relatively young mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Long before he became the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion of the world, "Bones" was knocking off seasoned veterans such as Brandon Vera, Stephan Bonnar and Vladimir Matyushenko, while derailing up-and-comers such as Ryan Bader.
And the opposition only got stiffer from there.
But, the charismatic Jones passed his tests with flying colors, defeating Mauricio Rua to capture the 205-pound title and then going on to defend his strap five consecutive times against Quinton Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen.
With an impressive resume like that, you can see why "Bones" doesn't think Alexander Gustafsson -- his recently announced opponent for UFC 165 on Sept. 21, 2013 -- is going to be his toughest challenge to date.
Regardless, when he faces "The Mauler" at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Jones will go in with the mentality that the towering Swede will be the toughest foe he's ever faced because having a lapse against a "young" and "motivated" challenger can mean bad news for the light heavyweight kingpin.
He breaks it down to MMA Fighting:
"I don't think he will be my toughest fight, but I need to have that psychology. I realize that he is a young man who is close to realizing a dream. You know, a lot of the guys I have fought have already had title shots before, but this is his very first title shot. I'm sure he's going to be extremely motivated."
It was originally thought that the aforementioned Machida had earned the right to rematch Jones after besting Dan Henderson at UFC 157. However, "Bones" wasn't too pleased with the pay-per-view (PPV) numbers that his original scrap against "The Dragon" at UFC 140 pulled and mentioned to company president Dana White that a fight against a new opponent would bring excitement.
"Yeah, that definitely happened. I beat Lyoto already. Ultimately, it was Dana's decision to match me up with Gustafsson and not Machida, but I did mention to Dana that I had already defeated Lyoto, and the UFC 140 pay-per-view numbers were pretty terrible. If you have a perfectly healthy, young contender who is on a rampage, why not keep new opponents, new excitement for the fans?"
Indeed, Gustafsson has been on quite a rampage, currently enjoying a six-fight win streak with only one loss on his otherwise mint record; losing to Phil Davis at UFC 112 in what was his second fight inside the Octagon.
Whether or not he makes the most of it and dethrones Jones -- and makes him eat his words -- remains to be seen.