Jon Jones is scheduled to return to action in a couple of weeks against bitter rival Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 and while it’s been a long time coming due to his year long suspension after testing positive for clomiphene and letrozole leading up to UFC 200 and although, many are still holding their breaths on Jones making it to the fight without any interruptions or distractions, he is favored to win in the rematch and for good reason.
Yet to reach 30, Jones has compiled 8 consecutive title defenses against the best light heavyweights the UFC had to offer including a lopsided win over Ovince St Preux in his last outing at UFC 197. The win was more than a year ago and more importantly, the win was heavily criticized as Jones’ worst performance yet, despite the fact that Jones completely outclassed St Preux through the course of five rounds. Jones admits he didn’t look his best, but he seems confident enough going into this fight that he opted against taking a tuneup fight.
The lone blemish on Jones’ record was due to disqualification after using 12-6 elbows against Matt Hamill back in December of 2009. Like many, Jones considers himself undefeated in the octagon, but one has to wonder when if ever will Jones fall?
There’s no need to rehash the numerous amount of losses Jones suffered outside of competition, but more importantly if Jones can get back to competing at least twice a year, will he revert to his old winning ways or will the game catch up to him the way its caught up to previous champions? The closest Jones came to defeat came in two separate occasions, first being the Vitor Belfort armbar minutes into their scrap at UFC 152. Then came the back-and-forth battle between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165.
Jones drew blood for the first time in his UFC career as he was matched up against someone who could nullify his take downs, beat him to the punch all while enduring Jones’ kicking game with an iron chin. Jones was in the most uncomfortable position he’d ever been in, but he kept up his pace of attack while simultaneously eating Swedish combinations in the process. In terms of the chances of Jones losing via submission, one could make the assumption that nobody in the top 5 of the division possesses the high level Brazilian jiu jitsu needed in order to secure a submission against the lanky Jones. Then again, anything is possible.
The battle between Jones and Gustafsson is recognized as Jones’ first true test against someone his own size, but he ultimately came out the victor. Despite the huge buildup to their first fight at UFC 182, Daniel Cormier failed to put Jones in trouble of losing his title. DC’s best moments came in the clinch as he used his dirty boxing to score points off Jones, but besides that Jones was in the driver’s seat. A potential threat to Jones’ consciousness was Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, but there is a big chance that fight never occurs now that Johnson is retired. Then there is rising light heavyweight, Volkan Oezdemir who owns a 14-1 MMA record that include 10 first round stoppages, including his quick work of Misha Cirkunov last month. He’s in life for a significant fight against fellow KO artist Jimi Manuwa and while both possess knock out ability, they aren’t exactly known for their wrestling defense. Someone who undoubtedly negated the wrestling of Jones was Gustafsson.
The rematch against Gustafsson is looming closer and it could mean we’ll see a different result between the two. Gustafsson’s comments on Jones possibly being on PEDs in their 2013 bout presents a new narrative on whether Jones’ accomplishments are tainted following his failed USADA test, despite using the tainted male enhancement pill defense. Jones’ story sounds ridiculous and it’s difficult to believe anything he says these days, but even if he is telling the truth, he’ll never escape this particular dark cloud along with the others.
Jones’ chin has kept him from ever being stunned in competition, but at a certain point in every fighters’ career, a once iron chin subsides into a delicate jaw. Jones won’t have to face “Rumble,” but he will have to face Daniel Cormier after a 15 month absence in a couple of weeks and he will have to face his most difficult adversary for the rest of his career, himself. Jones teased a move to heavyweight while on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, but made it clear he will only fight the perfect opponent if he ever does make the move. If he does decide to move up in weight, he’d certainly be putting himself at risk of a knockout. Jones’ over reliance on his chin won’t always save him from the eventual perfect shot needed to put him down. Until we reach that point, let’s hope Jones gets his career back on track and ready to put on entertaining performances that got him to the dance.