He’s a 6’4″, 220 freak of nature athlete. He’s humble, soft-spoken and supremely religious. He’s 21, married with a seven-month old girl and a New York native. And oh yeah, he’s getting ready to break onto the scene in the sport that he loves.
Sounds like a college football player headed to the NFL Draft in April, right? Wrong.
That’s the bio of Jon Jones, Endicott, NY native and supremely talented mixed-martial arts fighter who participates in the UFC’s ultra-talented 205 lb light heavyweight division.
On a list of promising 24-and-under stars currently on the UFC’s roster, Jones’ name may be on the top. Certainly there’s some very talented young kids like Dustin Hazelett (22), Tamdan McCrory (22), Nate Diaz (23), Anthony Johnson (24), Junie Browning (23) and Thiago Tavares (24). Amongst them all, Jones could be the one with the brightest future.
On Saturday, January 31st, Jon Jones competed on the highly hyped UFC 94: St.-Pierre vs. BJ Penn fight card against UFC veteran Stephan Bonnar. It was his second fight in the premier MMA promotion after winning his debut in August at UFC 87 over Andre Gusmao.
Many expected the lean and gangly “Bones” Jones (8-0), who sports a ridiculous 84.5 inch reach, to give the veteran Bonnar a solid challenge, but ultimately succumb due to a lack of experience in the cage.
Wrong again. Jones not only defeated Bonnar, he controlled the fight for 15 minutes before earning the unanimous decision from the judges. With now eight professional fights under his belt, Jones remains undefeated with six finishes — five by way of knockout.
It was a performance that those of us who hadn’t seen much of Jones prior to the event hadn’t believed him capable of just yet, but for those who have been around Jones in the past 20 months as he trained for the sport of MMA, knew he was more than capable of.
Well now the world is paying close attention. At just 21 years of age and with his athleticism, it wasn’t a matter of if Jones would figure out the sport of MMA, but a matter of when. To the bewilderment of many, it has happened in less than two years of on-the-job training.
It was perhaps as unexpected as the spinning elbows he lets loose in the Octagon.
But now Jones has taken that all-important step into the limelight. He’s arrived and he’s not going anywhere.
“Great technique,” “beautiful takedowns,” and “unbelievable athleticism” are just some of the compliments being thrown Jones’ way now, courtesy of MMA analysts like Joe Rogan. And they aren’t about to stop.
Jones began as a wrestler where he won a junior college state championship at Iowa Central Community College. From there, he parlayed his All-American Greco-Roman wrestling background into a spot on the New York based Team BombSquad. Now Jones combines an unorthodox and extremely unpredictable striking style with that great wrestling base and his outstanding size and athleticism into a package that makes him perhaps the UFC’s brightest young star.
He considers himself a very religious person which contributes to his unbelievable humility for a man as talented as he. That aspect of his character could be the critical factor in Jones reaching his full potential. The reason being, with his solid character and down-to-earth personality, the UFC will have no problem marketing him.
While we wait to see just what is next for this budding young star, one thing is for certain — the future is bright.