On the way to the bar, Steve briefed me on the much anticipated feature fight for UFC 128: Jon Jones versus Shogun Rua. Shogun was the reigning light-heavyweight champion. No opponent had ever knocked him down. Steve had seen some sports-science show, where they recorded Shogun as having the hardest kick in the UFC, using all sorts of special cameras and gadgetry. Shogun is in his prime.
Jon Jones was 12 years old when his sister died. He got two tattoos in her memory, one with her name written in Chinese. When his mother found out, she immediately took him to the local Chinese restaurant and asked the lady there what the tattoo said. “Peaceful warrior.”
Jones had great expectations beyond high school, where he was the State champ in Greco Roman wrestling. On his way to College, he knocked up his girlfriend. He had to get a job to raise his new family. He then took the advice of a friend and tried out mixed martial arts. Jones has only thirteen fights under his belt, is 23 years of age, and he’s already got a shot at the title.
Through 13 bouts, no opponent had been able to take Jones down to the mat, let alone knock him down. His record was 12-1 going into this fight; the lone loss coming from a disqualification for beating his opponent up without care for the rules.
Jon Jones is Batman. On the day of the fight, Jones got out of Newark and went to a park in Paterson city to meditate when his coaches saw a burglary in progress. The thief was running with some lady’s GPS when Jones chased him down and put him in a leg lock until the police arrived.
From the opening bell, Jones came at Shogun with reverse elbows, spin-kicks, and a wide variety of moves that he clearly picked up from video games, but can get away with it because of his incredible explosiveness and a seven foot wingspan. He’s a hurricane full of fists, elbows and heels. Not only was Shogun worried about avoiding the blows, but trying to get into a wrestling match with Jones was obviously a bad idea.
When the ref stopped the fight in the third round because Jones was pounding the dead horse that was now the former champ, Steve turned to me amidst the cheers and said, “I don’t think Jones took a single punch.” After the fight, Rashad Evans was there to shake Jones’ hand. Evans is a friend of Jones’, they’ve trained together in the past, and he’s first in line for a title shot against the new champ of the light heavyweights. Evans didn’t look too excited about it.
Steve doesn’t seen anyone in the light-heavyweight class that could put a dent in Batman’s amour, and makes an interesting point that by the time Jones reaches his athletic peak, he’ll be a heavyweight.
What we’re witnessing with Jon Jones is reminiscent of what Mike Tyson did when he became the youngest heavyweight champ in boxing history. Tyson dominated the most prestigious weight class during the early eighties. He went 37-0 before losing to Buster Douglas, after which his career and personal life spiraled downward.
But Jon “Bones” Jones is the son of a preacher man. He is the peaceful warrior and the unmasked avenger. And for the next few years, he’s going to be the hottest fighting ticket in town.
–When he’s not watching grown men fight, Umar Saeed covers the endless battle between money and people on his website: www.umarsaeed.ca/