Long before he was Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon Jones was just a 20 year-old kid from Endicott, New York, looking to make a name for himself in the budding sport of mixed martial arts (MMA).
When "Bones" first stepped foot inside the cage in early 2008, the combat sports landscape was still evolving. UFC was widely-considered the top dog in MMA after it put the bite on PRIDE FC in late 2007, but other options existed outside the Octagon.
Elite XC, Strikeforce and even Affliction were still viable options.
But Jones wasn't going anywhere until he established himself as a competent fighter. To that end, he competed a staggering six times during his 2008 fight campaign, starting with his light heavyweight debut on April 18 against Brad Bernard at the comically-named Full Force: "Untamed XX" event in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Speaking of silly names, Jones was representing "Team Bombsquad," while Bernard -- billed as a "bar room brawler" -- was representing the "Bucket Brigade."
Here's what happened.
They touch gloves to get the action underway and Bernard uncorks a Riddle-like jab from about eight feet out. Jones slaps a leg kick and barrels in at full speed -- head up and chin out -- to initiate the clinch. Bernard fails to capitalize on the wide-open target and instead turns his back to brace for the impact.
These two are new to the fight game, and it shows.
Jones muscles his victim to the ground and looks for a rear naked choke, but can't keep Bernard from rolling. Jones works for a front headlock and Bernard uses the applied force to get back to his legs, where he fires off a wild right, one "Bones" tries to avoid via one-legged air-dancer defense.
"Certainly reminiscent of 'The Spider,' Anderson Silva, thus far," notes the easily-impressed play-by-play man.
After eating a looping right, Jones uses his size and strength to tie up his opponent. When Bernard tries to drive forward, Jones flips him over his head with frightening ease. The crowd gasps at the impact of the suplex and the announcers all but lose their shit.
Beginning, meet end.
Jones -- who is labeled "cocky" by the color commentator for raising his hand to celebrate the devastating move -- starts raining down punches until Bernard is unable to defend himself. The referee is slow to respond and when it looks as though the fight will be called, "Bones" drills a foot into the ribs of Bernard, who is already face down on the canvas.
See how it all happened here.
Jones would take two more fights before month's end, then rack up another three finishes to earn a place inside the Octagon at UFC 87: "Seek and Destroy" in August 2008. The rest, as they say, is history. So too, was Bernard, as the "bar room brawler" would never be seen or heard from again.
That was then. This is now.
At the upcoming UFC 165 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place this Saturday night (Sept. 21, 2013) inside the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Jones will defend his 205-pound title for the sixth time, taking on fellow young gun Alexander Gustafsson.