Break Bones or Unbroken – by Paul Jacob
On the 19th of March 2011, “Suga” Rashad Evans was due to fight Mauricio “Shogan” Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Due to injury, Rashad was forced to pull out of the fight. He was replaced by his team mate, 23 year old Jon “Bones” Jones.
At the time, “Bones” had one defeat due to being disqualified with some illegal elbows. Having finished 10 of the 14 bouts prior to Rua, Jones was considered a huge prospect.
On the day of the fight, around 8 hours before the biggest fight of his career, Jon and his coaches, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, spotted a man breaking into a car and stealing. “Bones”, Jackson & Winkeljohn pursued and eventually physically restrained the man, stopping the robbery.
For most this would be the biggest thing to happen to them that day, but for Jon this was merely the beginning as he dominated “Shogun” becoming the youngest ever champion in the UFC.
After “Shogun”, Jones was matched up with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. “Rampage” was considered a dangerous opponent due to his ferocious striking but was submitted by rear naked choke in a fight of the night performance by both men.
Next up was Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Machida was known for his unorthodox striking and due to this, he was a riddle that only a few had solved. Machida fell, literally, to a standing guillotine choke. The referee had to catch Lyoto after Jon released the choke.
Finally, Rashad Evans was going to get his shot. Due to Jon replacing Evans and winning the title, Rashad had left the Jackson Winkeljohn gym; bad blood between Rashad and Jon had been building. This fight was one of the first times I have seen Jon in deep water. Rashad was in control of the fight, until one of Jon’s trademark elbows landed, switching momentum and eventually leading to a decision win for “Bones”. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort was Jones’ next victim, on this occasion he was unable to stop an Americana submission.
Chael Sonnen was up next. Despite being a big fan of “The American Gangster” from West Linn, Oregon, Sonnen did exactly as well as I expected against the champion. Yet heading towards the end of the first round, Sonnen was on the brink of winning the title due to a dislocated toe. Luckily, Jones rallied and finished Sonnen with a flurry.
Alexander “The Mauler” Gustaffson awaited. In a war of attrition, both men pushed each other to the limit, going the distance. There are those who believe that Jones incorrectly was given the decision. To an extent I see why, as “The Mauler” had less visible damage. Glover Teixeira fell in the same manner.
Next up was a man, with whom Jon seems to share a genuine animosity, Daniel “DC” Cormier. “DC” described Jon as a despicable person when not in front of the cameras and saying that he was “waiting for a man to be his equal”. He actually begged Jon to “please be that man”. Unfortunately, for Cormier, Jones was that man and more defeating Cormier. Jones declared himself “Unbroken” in stark contrast to Daniel’s claim that he would “Break Bones”.
Reading all that back reminds me how good Jon truly is, the problem with Jon has never been one of ability or desire. The problem is, much like that fateful day in 2011, wherever Jon goes in his career, controversy usually follows.
Jon has a laundry list of unsavoury issues that have followed him. These include testing positive for cocaine, allegedly planting a spy in “Rampage’s” camp, refusing to take a short notice fight for UFC 151 against Chael Sonnen, “proving” Daniel Cormier right with insults once he thought the cameras were off and the infamous hit and run that cost him his title.
As UFC 197 approaches, so too does Jon’s shot at salvation. Daniel Cormier’s Light Heavyweight title, that he earned in Jon’s absence, will be on the line. Whilst Daniel seems to bring out the worst in Jon, “DC” is not Jones greatest opponent. That distinction is reserved for Jon himself. In my mind, “Bones” will go down as one of the all time greats, the question is, how far will Jon allow himself to go?
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