Can Jon Jones Really Dismantle Four Former Champions in a Row?
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones is on top of the world. The 2011 Fighter of the Year worked four fights into his calendar year last year, earning an impressive victory every time.
But just winning four times over the past year isn't what makes Jones so special. What does is that the last three fighters Jones squared off against were once all proud owners of the title he now carries. And before those three he manhandled number one contender Ryan Bader to earn the title shot.
For Jones, the sky is the limit.
The champ stripped the belt away from Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in Newark, N.J. last March. He followed that fight up with a unanimous decision win over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in September and then rounded the year out with a submission win over Lyoto Machida.
Next month Jones will face number one contender and former training partner "Suga" Rashad Evans. Evans lost the light heavyweight title in his first defense against Machida in 2009.
Evans will be the fourth former champion in a row that Jones will go to battle with. Even at his young age Jones' legacy is already being written. No fighter in the history of the UFC has ever defended against four former champions in a row and kept his title intact.
One could argue that Evans has a slight advantage over Jones' previous challengers because the two used to be training partners. But you could wipe that argument out of your memory bank right now.
Jones is the champion for a reason. The two have not trained together in more than a year and Jones has been constantly evolving. He is always willing to try new things. The Jones that fights Evans will look nothing like his former sparring partner.
To break the fight down you have to take a look at their common opponents.
Both men struggled to put away former champion Rampage Jackson, but it was Jones who was able to submit him, while Evans took the fight to a decision.
Jackson has been criticized of late as being a fighter who has not evolved and is one-dimensional. Known primarily as a striker, Jackson has had troubles recently in pulling the trigger and finding motivation to win.
The way Jones was dismantling opponents one after another it was presumed that he would beat Rampage within the first or second round. When that didn't happen people started to question if Jones was for real.
He erased all that doubt when he met another common opponent in Lyoto Machida. Machida took the title away from Evans when he rattled his jaw and put him to sleep up against the cage.
Machida was promoted as the fighter with the skills to put an end to Jones reign. Instead we saw Jones put Machida to sleep inside the second round.
The only real blemish on Jones' record is a disqualification for an illegal downward elbow to the head of Matt Hamill. Even in that fight Jones was just seconds away from having his hand raised as the victor.
Could Rashad Evans reclaim the title and beat Jon Jones? Sure, it's possible. Any fighter can be beaten on any given day but for now the odds are in Jones' favor.
When the two fighters meet April 21 in Atlanta, Ga., Evans will have to pull out all the stops if he doesn't want to go down as unlucky number four. But the chips are stacked against him.
Photo courtesy mmamania.com