A technical knockout of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 left critics to deliberate on the kind of shape Rua was in coming off an extended layoff. Rendering Quinton “Rampage” Jackson into submission led skeptics to dismiss that achievement as a victory over an MMA legend who is a shell of his former self. Now that he’s beat a third consecutive future hall of famer in Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, in impressive fashion, will the critics find fault in Jon “Bones” Jones’ latest achievement? They can try!
The Light Heavyweight champion faced a former champion in Machida who was ready to fight. The two opened the bout at a stale mate, sizing one another up for the perfect opportunity to strike. Opportunity knocked on Machida’s door first. The Dragon worked in some shin kicks that were rather resounding throughout the Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. In addition, he was excellent with sticking and moving on the champion, countering punches, staying out of Jones’ reach and initiating some punches that caused the champion to back pedal a time or two. Jones’ patented back spinning elbow, was unable to find a home. Machida’s aggression and wisdom allowed him to stake claim of the opening round.
After getting a feel of what Machida had to offer, the champion did not take long to remind fight fans why he sits atop the Light Heavyweight mountain. Jones was able to close distance between himself and Machida with punches and kicks of his own. Jones went to one of his strong suits, wrestling Machida down to the mat. Bones landed a left elbow to Machida’s forehead, leaving a deep cut, which ultimately turned the tide of this bout. After the doctor cleared Machida to continue fighting, Bones caught The Dragon with a staggering jab, forcing the action onto the fence. Jones secured a standing guillotine choke and just :34 into the second round, the champion completed his second title defense, leaving Machida lying motionless.
Jones is the first Light Heavyweight champion to successfully defend his title in consecutive fights since Chuck Lidell did so in 2005. Given the adversity presented and the resolve shown to retain the title, Jones has completed his toughest fight to date. He has elevated his stock in the best pound-for-pound ranking, as well as solidified his status as the 2011 Mixed Martial Artist/Fighter of the Year.
What’s next, a well deserved vacation, while simultaneously seeing who’s next in line for a title shot. His next challenger will emerge from UFC on Fox 2’s main event between Phil Davis and former Light Heavyweight Champion and ex-training partner Rashad Evans. Will the “Enigmatic Prodigy” cross paths with his past, or will he lock horns with an X-Factor?
By Antoine Hoffman