UFC 135 Preview
If you cast your eye over Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones fight record you’d be forgiven for thinking he was a man in a hurry to
get things done. Jones was signed by the UFC after compiling a 6-0 record in 4 months. His first UFC fight was taken
on 2 weeks notice and 2 years later, after going 5-1 in the UFC, Jones lands a contender eliminator against Ryan
Bader. Blowing Bader aside, he is then fast tracked to a title shot after an injury to Rashad Evans forces him out of his
championship fight with Shogun Rua. After one of the most one sided, devastating beatings in a title fight Jon Jones
is the new UFC light-heavyweight champion three years into his MMA career, at the tender age of 24, the youngest
in the promotions history.
When you speak to the man, his relaxed tones suggest he’s never rushed anything in his whole life. His favourite
saying at the moment is ‘enjoy the process’. “When I wake up and feel like I can’t train 5 times in the one day again,
like I’ve no energy or strength, like my life is just being repetitive I say to myself ‘Jon, enjoy the process’. It’s about
the journey not the destination.”
When JOE spoke to Jon Jones it was lunchtime in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he trains at Greg Jackson’s
legendary MMA gym. He was just after spending the morning sparring with the elite level fighters that train at
Jackson’s. When asked how his camp was going, Jones was emphatic. “Training is going phenomenal man, its going
perfect. I’ve just sparred all morning against top UFC fighters and I don’t think I lost a round! I’m doing some fitness
work this afternoon, which I’m looking forward to.”
This set the tone for a 20 minute phone call bursting with positivity. With such a rapid rise in the teak tough sport of
MMA its hardly surprising Jones possesses such positive confidence in his abilities. Exploring Jones greatness reveals
an underlying belief he always had. “I did have a feeling I could be ‘great’ but I didn’t know how much to believe in it.
I used to tell myself all the time ‘one day I’ll be champion’ and after sayin’ it so many times I guess I spoke it into
existence. I made a conscious effort to train like a champion, speak like a champion, act like a champion and to treat
others as if I was a champion. Like, years ago my voicemail message was something like ‘What’s up, its Jon, your
friend and champion. Please leave your name and message after the tone.”
If winning can be a habit it probably starts with having a winning mind-set and this has certainly worked out for
Jones. It started with winning his State wrestling championship in high school. His focus then turned to becoming a
Division 1 college wrestling champion but a change in plans came with the unexpected birth of his daughter.
Having put his academic career on hold to look after his family it was the enthusiasm of his old junior college buddies
that led him into MMA. “I used to get together with my buddies on campus at Fort Dodge, Iowa to watch UFC’s. They
were just UFC obsessed and I would see these guys going just crazy, cheering on Chuck Liddell. I thought I had the
assets and the mind-set to make it in this sport so I decided to try and become a UFC fighter. I put all my
commitment, drive and focus that I’d had for the Division 1 championship and transformed it into an even bigger
desire to make it the UFC”
If you compare Jones’ career to most other MMA fighters he has packed an incredible amount in to his first 4 years.
But for Jones time is relative. “You could call my rise quick but to me it wasn’t an overnight success. I’ve worked hard
and trained consistently for 4 years. I’ve tried to train for every conceivable circumstance you could be in in a fight.
And so when you’ve put the time I have into achieving your goals the success doesn’t seem to have come that quick.
Sport can be like treading water sometimes, you’re constantly moving but you’re not, you’re going with the flow of
the water. That’s why its important that you enjoy the process.”
Jones ability to remain balanced in the face of success equally applies to dealing with the adversity, though minor,
that he’s come up against in his MMA career. On the acrimonious departure of Rashad Evans from Jackson, Jones
believes “it’s brought us closer together as a team”. On ‘Rampage’ Jackson’s accusations that the Jones camp are
spying – “its just a silly distraction and an attempt to sell more tickets”.
UFC 135 Preview
This brings us to Jones’ next fight against Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson at UFC 135. Rampage will possibly be the first
opponent that will not be phased by air of invincibility that Jones has created. “Rampage poses many threats as a
fighter and its going to be a great fight. I’m looking forward to the challenge and goal is to have fun but to finish the
Jon Jones signs off with some words for the Irish MMA community. Jones was due to hold a series of MMA seminars
in Ireland during the summer but had to cancel. “I was booked to do seminars all over the world, all summer. And
while this was great it meant I wasn’t seeing my family but also I wasn’t getting to train. So when the surgery was
cancelled I had to reign back on the seminars and unfortunately some people were let down. I do plan on getting to
Ireland and hopefully real soon.”